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.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 12

Published: July 20th, 2011
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: John Stateman, Herb Trimpe, Rod Whigham, Andrew Wildeman
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 280 Pages

Review:

The last volume was probably where I would have jumped off the series when I was a kid, if I hadn’t jumped off of it before that due to getting older and getting strange feelings around girls.

Sadly, this collection of issues didn’t pick things back up and it just continued down a crappy path.

At this point, it’s like all the good stories have been told and the series just feels like it is running aimlessly on fumes without a clear direction. Maybe Larry Hama stopped caring and Hasbro was just making him wedge in all their new, weird toys, which, in my opinion, wrecked the franchise and killed it due to terrible redesigns and stupid, unrealistic vehicles.

With this stretch of issues, the art quality also fell off fairly significantly. While this features multiple artists, the overall quality is poor and littered with issues from bad perspective to weird faces and bizarre anatomy.

This is also longer than the previous eleven volumes by a couple of issues, which made pushing through it even harder.

But at least there were a lot of ninjas!… even if most of the new ones look really stupid.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 11: Attack On Technodrome

Published: July 1st, 2015
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Cory Smith
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 104 Pages

Review:

This isn’t really a filler volume in the long-running Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series by IDW, as much as it is its own solid story that puts a heavy emphasis on developing a much bigger event that is going to go down and take up the two volumes after this one. The second such event in this version of TMNT continuity. When I get to those, I’ll probably review them together, as I did the last massive story arc.

In this, however, we see Donatello go behind his brothers’ backs and try to work out an alliance with Shredder, so that they can all take down Krang, his army and the dreaded Technodrome.

There are a lot of swerves and plot twists but the story reads really well and was pretty satisfying. While this wasn’t my favorite volume, it doesn’t disappoint and it kept the story moving forward at a brisk pace without it becoming redundant or derivative of previous stories, which is really hard to do when a series has gone on as long as this one has.

Cory Smith has taken over the art full-time and I like his work. It’s a bit more dynamic and detailed and it feels like the quality is a step up from what it has been. And that’s not to knock the previous artists, as I’ve really liked this series from both the art and writing sides of the coin.

In the end, I’m still enjoying this series and frankly, it’s now probably my favorite version of the turtles. I’m really looking forward to the big arc that follows this one.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 11

Published: April 20th, 2011
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Mark Bright, Ron Garney, John Stateman, Lee Weeks
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 252 Pages

Review:

This may be where the series lost me. Granted, I think I started to feel that way a few volumes back but the series rebounded in a good way.

By this point in the long-running G.I. Joe series, though, it feels like Larry Hama is just running through the motions. Also, I feel less connected to it and less nostalgic for it, as I’ve gotten to the point in the franchise where I stopped paying attention to it when I was a kid.

That had a lot to do with getting older and with the design of the later G.I. Joe toys getting bizarre and ugly. I hated most of the new vehicles of this era, as well as the new characters and old character redesigns. Some things were good from this time but 90 percent of it was garish and impractical. I liked this when it at least felt grounded in some sort of reality.

None of that is specifically Hama’s fault. He didn’t design the toys and new character looks, so he had to make the best out of what was given to him to adapt into the larger story. Besides, this comic’s original purpose was to sell toys.

Like the other volumes I’ve reviewed, this one collects multiple story arcs. Some are fairly interesting but most of them just felt really redundant.

I did like the art, which was changing with the times but this does still generally look like an ’80s era G.I. Joe comic.

Overall, I’d say that this was my least favorite stretch of the original comic series that I’ve read so far. There are still four volumes left but I’ll probably finish the series, being that I’m this far into it.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.