Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 16: Chasing Phantoms

Published: May 10th, 2017
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 127 Pages

Review:

While I like that the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series is in new territory, by this point, and trying fresh things for the franchise, I also question whether or not it’s ran its course and is just running on fumes after the defeats of Shredder and Krang.

Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s sort of changed its tone and there are new villains but it’s starting to feel a lot less like the traditional TMNT I grew up with and more like it’s trying to figure out where to go, charting new, unknown territory even for original creator Kevin Eastman.

Splinter being in charge of the Foot Clan just seems damn odd, even if he’s trying to make them a force for good. He’s still doing things that seem really out of character and the Turtles, his sons, recognize this. It’s been going on for a few volumes in this series now and I’m kind of waiting to see if there’s a real reason for it that will somehow make sense in a big, stunning reveal.

The series is just in a place of uncertainty in regards to where it’s going and the core characters’ lives and direction. I still like it, I’m still invested but something has to happen and soon.

The art is still on par with the previous volumes and as the series rolls on, it gets a wee bit better even with each chapter.

As I said, I’m still enjoying this, sixteen volumes deep, but I really feel like something big needs to go down much sooner, rather than later.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 3: Sojourn

Published: January 13th, 2016
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 142 Pages

Review:

Each chapter in this series seems to get better. While this one wasn’t a well defined story collected into one volume, it introduced a few different plots and characters that helped greatly with the world building. I felt like I needed that having never read anything featuring Drizzt Do’Urden until I picked up this comic series.

This pretty much has the same art as the previous books and while it’s okay, it still feels like a step down from the level I’ve seen Tim Seeley work at before. It’s a bit basic and the colors aren’t superb but it’s fine for an indie comic about dark elves and monsters. There’s certainly much worse out there, even from publisher IDW.

This chapter is fairly action packed but it’s more about developing the character of Drizzt, as well as those he comes in contact with. Many of the characters in this have their preconceived biases against dark elves but Drizzt proves that he doesn’t quite fit the stereotype.

All in all, this isn’t great or all that memorable, but the series does feel as if it is improving and it gives me some hope for the final three volumes now that I’ve reached the mid-point.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 2: Exile

Published: August 19th, 2015
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 150 Pages

Review:

I thought that the first volume of this series was both fairly enjoyable but also pretty weak. This volume kicks things up a bit, as it moves on passed all the origin shit and gets Drizzt Do’Urden out into the world, where he has to survive without the help and protection of his own people, who are now hellbent on making him pay for his betrayal.

In this, Drizzt makes a friend and the two of them have to work together to survive the storm that’s coming. In the end, Drizzt has to basically fight a zombie version of his father, who trained him to be the warrior he is.

Beyond the story, the art is just okay.

I generally like Tim Seely’s work, as I loved the earliest Hack/Slash stuff a lot. However, when I see these Drizzt comics, it looks like he was either rushed by the publisher or he was stretched too thin over multiple projects and couldn’t give this series his full attention.

Overall, this is better than the previous installment but it’s also not living up to what I hoped this could be.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 15: Leatherhead

Published: October 5th, 2016
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 125 Pages

Review:

This chapter in the very long-running IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series was pretty damn good.

The series is in a new place after the defeat of Shredder and Krang in two different big battles. So it’s uncertain where this can go, as it has entered really new territory and sort of has a clean slate.

That being said, this was really entertaining and full of surprises.

By the title of this volume, you know that Leatherhead enters the series. He was always a cool concept for a character but I always thought that he was never properly executed in the good ol’ days. In this, though, he’s a dangerous, massive beast. He at first seems like an ally but there’s a very dark, pretty f’d up twist with his character.

In this chapter, we also see more of the female Foot Clan member Jennika, who is trying to redeem herself after existing in a dark cloud under Shredder’s command. Here, Master Splinter is essentially her Yoda: training her, helping her find peace, balance and self-respect.

Man, this was just a good piece of storytelling with great art that fans that have stuck around this long should expect.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 1: Homeland

Published: February 25th, 2015
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 145 Pages

Review:

I’ve known about the character of Drizzt Do’Urden for a few decades. In fact, I own a few of the Forgotten Realms paperbacks with him on the cover but I never got around to reading them because I wanted the whole saga.

Well, many of those stories were adapted into comics by IDW, who have the publishing rights to the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. So, I figured that I’d read them and get a taste for the character and his pocket in the larger D&D universe.

This first volume serves as Drizzt’s origin story and while it’s interesting and pretty unique, it’s not super exciting. However, his story had to start somewhere and it’s important if you want to actually understand the character, his motivations and what kind of struggle he’s gone through before evolving into a legendary hero.

Reading this, I appreciated the level of world building that went into the story, as originally penned by the great R.A. Salvatore. This goes deep into the culture, beliefs, politics and history of Drizzt’s people, setting up a lot of potentially good stories to follow.

Still, this first volume didn’t captivate me in the way I was hoping but that’s fine. I still plan to read the six volumes that IDW put out because I already own them and because this character can now leave the nest and grow into the great character I’ve been told he is by many.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 15

Published: August 1st, 2012
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 232 Pages

Review:

I have finally reached the end of the classic Marvel Comics G.I. Joe run, which was almost entirely written by Larry Hama.

Most of it was great but the last four or five volumes are pretty shitty, this one being no different, which is sort of sad, considering how great this franchise was in its prime, back when Larry Hama still cared about it and when Hasbro was making great toys and not corny ones that pushed fans away.

To be fair, most of the loyal G.I. Joe fans were also more into girls by the early ’90s.

Anyway, this final collection of issues is a wee bit better than the previous lot but the series still went out with a whimper.

This is also plagued by awful art that is well below Marvel’s quality standards in the ’90s.

Most of the half dozen or so artists here were trying really hard to be the next Rob Liefeld and I don’t say that complimentary. They sort of adopted the worst parts of Liefeld’s style and gave us stories littered with bad physics, weird anatomy and messed up looking faces.

All in all, I still love this series. But everything went to shit after about 100 issues and never recovered.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe comics.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 14

Published: March 21st, 2012
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 256 Pages

Review:

At this point, the classic Marvel G.I. Joe comic had gotten so bad that I’m pretty sure the publisher knew it. And I really hate besmirching the great Larry Hama but I really don’t think he was giving a shit about these characters anymore.

So I guess going ninja heavy wasn’t enough to keep kids interested, so this volume went ahead and threw the Transformers franchise into the mix, as well.

Now it’s been pretty well-known since the beginning, really, that both of these franchises exist in the same universe. However, how they come together and fit has always been a bit wonky and inconsistent.

In this one, Cobra helps a disheveled but vengeance seeking Megatron get his mojo back. As part of this sinister partnership, Cobra is given Cybertronian tech to give them the edge in their quest for world domination. The story featuring some of the Transformers characters is fairly short, though.

This collection of issues, the penultimate collection in the original series, features multiple story arcs. None of them are all that interesting, sadly. Even seeing Megatron and Cobra Commander working together just didn’t do enough to peak my interest and redeem the series.

I’d say that this was a bit better than the previous volume but it was still mostly bad.

Well, only one more to go. I hope Hama at least goes out with something good. Probably not, though.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 14: Order From Chaos

Published: June 1st, 2016
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Michael Dialynas, Ken Garing
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 136 Pages

Review:

This volume of the long-running Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ IDW run looked a little bit different, as the artists changed. That’s not a bad thing, though, as the art in this collection of issues was still pretty good and fit well within the tone of the series.

The writing was still very good and honestly, more than anything else, that’s what’s kept me reading this series for well over a dozen volumes, at this point.

This story is the first one after the defeat of Shredder and the landscape of the TMNT-verse is now very different. There is a new threat and we also get to see how the core characters are adjusting to major changes in their lives.

Master Splinter now runs the Foot Clan and with that, there are new challenges and a new female student that I know will go on to have a pretty big impact on this series going forward.

All in all, this was another good, action packed volume and the series still hasn’t lost steam.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 13

Published: November 2nd, 2011
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Rurik Tyler, Andrew Wildeman
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 235 Pages

Review:

Well, we’ve reached the first collected edition of the original G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic series that I’ve had to give an unfavorable score to.

This series, at this point, keeps getting worse. Other than the few original characters I care about, this is littered with shitty new ones and the old ones who are there are mostly wearing really awful new costumes.

Frankly, this was hard on the eyes, the story was out of gas and this went the route of “Just throw ninjas in there! A lot of ninjas! The kids love the ninjas!”

Well, when the ninjas look more sci-fi and fluorescent than traditional and dark, a ten year-old boy isn’t going to give a shit. The ninjas are no longer cool, they look like they were designed by the same toy development team that would go on to invent Bratz dolls.

This was damn hard to get through and I say that as someone that adores G.I. Joe. Hell, it’s my favorite franchise of all-time!

Luckily, I only have two more volumes to read in the original classic run. Hopefully, this finds a way to recover and go out with a bang. I fear it’s going to go out like a wet dog fart, however.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 12 & 13: Vengeance

Published: November 4th, 2015, February 3rd, 2016
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Cory Smith
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 204 Pages (total)

Review:

This was the second large story arc in the IDW continuity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Also, it was well worth the wait, after the slow build towards it since the last large event.

In this one, we get the final showdown between Splinter and Shredder and with that, we see both senseis’ families go to war. This story involves all the big players, thus far, and it brings major changes to the series.

While I know that Shredder has a story arc in Hell, I’ve already read it and reviewed it, and that he returns to life, eventually, the Turtles and their allies are finally able to move beyond the Shredder threat and shift their focus to an oncoming war with Krang.

I dug this one a lot but after how much I’ve liked all the previous volumes, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Eastman is still writing great stories, alongside Tom Waltz, his righthand man on this incarnation of his most famous creation.

Additionally, I loved the art Mateus Santolouco and Cory Smith but this series has looked great from the start.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.