Just like countless others, I grew up with the '87 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. The beyond catchy theme song lured me in and from that point on I'd spend the rest of my youth in love with the franchise. I'd dress as the Turtles for Halloween (my mom was kind enough to make me an outfit one year), buy as many toys as I could see and watched the VHS copies of the films over and over and over again (Go Ninja, go!).
Two decades have now passed and I'm amazed by the fact that I now love the Turtles more than ever. Calling the concept of the TMNT dated and quite goofy is certainly fair, but the heroes have managed to make minor changes here and there, allowing it to stand the test of time and still feel like a brand new product. Now is a great time to be a fan of the Turtles. The original Mirage series is being reprinted in color by IDW, the brand new Nick cartoon is surprisingly fantastic (which I'll begin reviewing soon!), and most important of all, the IDW reboot series is excellent. If you consider yourself a fan of the franchise, it's your duty to follow this title.
The new comic, written by Tom Waltz & franchise co-creator Kevin Eastman (micro-series by assorted writers), manages to strike the perfect tone for the group of sewer dwellers. You'll get a heavy dose of nostalgia as each unique Turtle interacts in the manner you've come to expect, except the dialogue is appropriately updated to fit the modern era (RIP cowabunga). The sense of camaraderie remains powerful and the conversations are written in a manner that both young and longtime fans can appreciate. The main villains (Shredder, Krang) are also composed exceptionally well and so far have managed to avoid any cringe-worthy tropes. Their agendas are especially familiar but have just enough change to breathe new life into their diabolical plans.
The action is plentiful, impactful, fast-paced and never gratuitous. They pull no punches here, having no gripe with Splinter slashing a Foot Ninja's stomach, Krang killing someone with a projectile blast, or Shredder humiliating an already battered and bruised Leonardo. But the book widely stays away from unnecessary gore and blood -- which is a good thing because that would definitely feel off-putting.
Naturally, with a reboot comes character redesigns and origin changes. As absurdly dedicated fans, we tend to have two reactions: love it or hate it (we're a reasonable bunch, aren't we?). Thankfully, the change to the origin is hardly blasphemy and while it sounds a bit far-fetched on paper, it is implemented extremely well and is the source of an interesting debate among the Heroes in a Half Shell. As for their looks, fret not, Splinter eventually hands out their fitting colors and all of the characters look awesome. Shredder would make me soil myself if I bumped into him in an alley, and (despite some anatomy issues) Krang's new body is intimidating and a superb update to an incredibly dated design.
All of your favorites and then some are thrown into the mix. Obvious characters aside, we've seen a quick cameo from the dim-witted Bebop and Rocksteady, Fugitoid, the Utroms, Karai (cheers, '03 fans), a glimpse of the currently under construction Technodrome and much more. It's clear they're going all out with expanding this new universe and filling it with as many updated familiar faces as possible.
Turtle fans, I know a $3.99 cover price is intimidating (especially on top of everything else in your pull list), but give the new run a shot and I'm pretty confident you'll happily take something out of your monthly stack to make room for the TMNT's latest adventure.
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. Despite the mass hysteria, he's still holding onto some hope for the Ninja Turtles movie reboot.