Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : The IDW Collection Vol. 1
I’m a nineties kid, plain and simple. I was born in 1984, so my most formative childhood memories come from the early nineties. And one of the most popular Intellectual Properties in that era was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I loved the cartoon, I collected the toys, and pretended to kick Shredder’s butt on a weekly basis. The first movie I ever saw in theatres was the 2nd, very mediocre, Turtles movie. So obviously I have a deep love for those turtles in a half shell and I was intrigued by the IDW reboot that occurred several years ago. I recently picked up a copy of the first hardcover volume for my middle school library and consumed it pretty voraciously.
Reading through this collection gave me all sorts of nostalgic feels about my childhood. The storyline was quite interesting because, looking back on my TMNT knowledge, I never really had a grasp of the details behind their origin story. I always knew they had mutated because of some toxic ooze, and I knew that Shredder and the Foot clan were their sworn enemies, but I didn’t ever really know why or how that came about. My naive childlike love was based on the Turtles being the good guys and the clan being bad, and I was fine with that. So now that Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz have fleshed out a fantastic backstory for me all in one volume, I have a much better understanding as to why these two groups are at odds. The story arc flows well, with the focus of each issue shifting between different characters as Splinter and 3 of the Turtles search for Raphael, who was separated from them early on. And I love how this volume sprinkles in the micro-issues of the main characters, giving each of them a chance to shine as the main protagonist, and providing some more context to them as characters.
Dan Duncan’s art style is fantastic, with some great action sequences. This is vitally important in a series based around martial arts and physical movement in a static medium. And kudos to them for avoiding gratuitous violence in an age of media that revels in it. The lack of blood makes it much easier for me, as a middle school librarian, to justify putting it on my shelves for 11 year olds to consume. Duncan’s interpretation of the Turtles and their cast of characters is just fantastic and drew me even deeper into their world.
If you grew up a fan of TMNT in any of its forms, I definitely recommend you check this series out. It’s well written, beautiful, and full of nostalgia. But the series is also not too gimmicky or childish. It walks a fine line between action-packed stories and dark and brooding moments, especially as back stories are revealed. There are even some nice homages to their predecessors spread throughout the story arc. Waltz is able to craft engaging dialogue without the need for cursing, although the occasional “ass” sneaks in to Raph’s lingo. I would recommend this for ages 10 and up, as the darker aspects of the story keep it engaging for adults while the action will keep prepubescent pre-teens turning the pages.