Man, I love being a turtle('s fan)! The primary series at IDW is on a roll like no other with "City Fall" and the Nick show's second season has made a strong return. While the episodes on TV are diving into the ongoing narrative, it's great to see Nick and IDW have so much faith in the animated universe that they're willing to give us side stories every single month. This time around, SECRET HISTORY OF THE FOOT CLAN co-writer Erik Burnham tells a standalone story which focuses on Raphael's hotheaded nature. This lands him in trouble as he's poisoned by the Foot, and naturally, it's up to the turtles to save him.
As Raph is out of the picture, Burnham displays a more than strong understanding of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello. He's able to dive into each character and present a seamless take on how we think they'd all react in such a scenario. It feels just like watching another episode of the TV show and that's definitely worthy of applause. I don't know about you, but I absolutely hear Jason Biggs, Greg Cipes and Rob Paulsen saying the lines in my head as they try to help their brother. And, in true TMNT fashion, Michelangelo has at least one line that offers a good laugh and, while the action isn't as elaborate as I hoped, it throws some creative situations our way.
The super fun and lighthearted vibe remains strong, even when a character we love is in terrible danger. I won't spoil how Burnham turns it into a good time, but "bonkers" and "wacky" is a great way to describe it. It's definitely a scene that would work well on the show and deliver lots of smiles, too.
It's so often that Raph's attitude puts him in danger or makes him a hindrance to the team, but here, Burnham shows Raph's mentality is every bit as important as Donatello's intellect, Leo's leadership and Mikey's spirit. Raphael may be incapacitated for most of this issue and Leo gets the better of him in sparring (something which cuts Raph fans right to the core), but it's still one that manages to give the character proper respect and fans of the red-masked turtle should be satisfied.
While Burnham creates a script which remains true to the Nick show, artist Dario Brizuela and colorist Heather Breckel make sure the pages look like the program as well. It's a tad sketchier and the characters aren't quite as smooth as their cgi counterparts, but ultimately, the visuals do an outstanding job duplicating the show's imagery. It's a real treat for the eyes and makes for a really pleasant read.
We all know Raph won't endure a permanent change in a one-shot, so that of course takes away from the sense of urgency, suspense and danger. This obviously applies to similar scenarios in the show's episode as well, but in this case, it felt like everything was displayed in a manner so we knew exactly how they'd wind up saving him. Despite the villains knowing where the heroes will go, they still leave what they need out in the open for them and grant them access to it. The ride is clearly enjoyable -- it just felt like the villains made things really easy for them. I understand part of that can be attributed to Dogpound's arrogance, but you'd think with Shredder constantly threatening him, the fact he's been whooped by them numerous times before and Shredder came up with the plan, they'd make things more troublesome.
This issue's a blast. The lovable characterizations shine through in every individual and, while predictable, the story is still thoroughly entertaining and well-written. It's totally a story which could pass as another episode for the show, and if you're a fan of the show, you know that means it's full of heart, enthralling and will keep you smiling. I'm always open to seeing more from the expanded universe and it's clear IDW is selecting talent who are more than capable of providing immensely fun adventures.
And one more thing: Michelangelo's impression of Raphael is flaweless.