IDW's celebrating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' 30th anniversary with a nice trip down memory lane. This pricey issue takes a look at 5 of the franchise's different volumes in chronological order (Mirage, Archie, Image, Later Mirage, IDW). Not only is there a proper introduction for each one, but they also have an all-new short story by their respective creative teams. The only exception seems to be the first one by Kevin Eastman. According to the introduction, that story was made back in 2012. At any rate, each of these stories do a great job showing us what made their titles unique. I mean, you'd expect no less since it's the people behind those original runs, right? From the standout visuals to the handling of the characters, you can really see how the franchise has evolved over the years.
Each story aims for a lighter tone -- yes, even the Image one -- but the issue ends on a surprisingly strong note. The IDW story (by Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, Dan Duncan and Ronda Pattison) is character-driven, focusing on Raphael's difficultly when he reunited with his brothers. While the other stories went for laughs and action, this hits us with an engaging insight into Rahp's struggle. It's a little odd jumping so far back into the current volume's timeline, but that hardly matters since it's such a well-written story. It may even motivate you to re-read those earlier issues! And it needs to be said that the Archie story has at least one moment that'll give you a solid laugh.
It's also worth noting there's a pretty awesome pin-up gallery. Each image strikes a totally different tone and I'm sure we'll all have our favorites. Personally, I'd love to see the one by T-Rex Jones get turned into a poster. It's a ridiculously cool image of the team standing in the rain. It creates a dark atmosphere without coming off as trying to be too dark and makes the team look like total badasses. It's great. In fact, I think I'll stare at it again once I'm done with this review.
While the stories are enjoyable, their limited length means a few don't have much time to really shine and wind up being not all that memorable. I really enjoyed the Archie and IDW tales, but odds are the others won't do enough to make you fall in love with them or become favorites. Also, if you didn't follow these different titles, you may feel a bit in the dark with a certain character or two.
When there's already so many comics on your pull list, it's understandable to hesitate when you're considering an issue that has $7.99 on the cover. Obviously, casual fans will probably skip this because of the price tag, but this is something you should buy if you really love the franchise. The short stories may not drop your jaw, but they're sure to hit you with some nostalgia and each one is entertaining in its own way. There's a chance it'll motivate you to seek out these older volumes, too. The journey ends on a surprisingly heartwarming note and then there's a pin-up gallery which is certain to have something for everyone. It's too bad there wasn't a new piece of work by Mateus Santolouco, but the dude's probably busy illustrating the current IDW story. This is $7.99 well spent if you love the heroes in a half shell.