Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Vol. 1 Micro-Series
In the nascent days of the TMNT, Mirage published a series of four one-issue ‘micro-series,’ each focusing on a different turtle. IDW’s reboot of the franchise continues the tradition, with a volume that is, taken as a whole, about as good as the originals.
The four turtles get their starring issues in the same order as they did in the original micros, as such, we start with Raphael. Raph’s original micro was notable in that it introduced the character of Casey Jones. The issue was largely a fight between the two, ending with an informal alliance when a more worthy target of their wrath appeared.
That meeting has already happened in the regular issues of the IDW series, but this micro still alludes to the original by opening with Raph and Casey squaring off against some bad guys. These include a female fox mutant (you can’t help but think of Ninjara, though the two are nothing alike) and her two human attackers who are not named but wear the same ’80s punk outfits as the original cartoon’s Bebop and Rocksteady.
The original micro was a perfect summation of the character of Raph, action and bravado. This new one is a generic mutant-of-the-month story. The coloring was good, but the art was wonky and overly-dark.
Next up is Michelangelo. His original micro took place on Christmas Eve and involved his run-in with a group of thieves. The new one takes place on New Year’s Eve and involves his run-in with a group of thieves. The original was mostly comedic, a lot of action, but lacking in character. The new micro is a significant improvement; as Mike uses his run-in with crime to reflect on his family. In the same way that the original Raph micro explained the essence of Raph, the new Mike micro explains him. The art in this one was the most similar to the on-going series, for good or bad. It’s very simplistic, but has a definite style.
Donatello’s original micro was an homage to Jack Kirby. In it, Don and Kirby are transported, by way of magic pencil, to a land populated by Kirby’s creations. I wasn’t much of a fan; as it felt a little childish compared to the other turtle stories at the time. The new micro has only vague allusions to the original; a man who uses the internet handle ‘Kirbyfan01,’ and the power glove which Kirby drew for Don in the original, but is now a showcase at a science fair. I don’t think it was a very high bar to reach, but the new micro is better than the old, and it does a good job of making Don interesting, and giving him a defined and separate character, as something other than the team’s tech-support. The art was cartoon-y, but very clean and detailed. It was appropriate to the story.
Lastly is Leonardo. Leo’s original micro was one long, silent fight with the Foot army, interspersed with brief glimpses of his family at home decorating for Christmas (the same Christmas as in the Mike micro?). It was moody; the contrast between the dialogue-less fight and the inane Christmas banter worked really well, and there was a palpable sense of danger to it.
The new micro has no contrasting elements to it; it’s just a long fight, through which Leo carries on an incessant monologue. It’s fine, in-so-far as it goes, but knowing how much better it could have been makes it a bit of a let down. The art was alright. The action didn’t flow very well, but I liked the expressiveness in Leo’s face.
All-in-all, these are four good issues; some better, and some worse than the originals, but all are still worth reading.