Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Vol. 2 Enemies Old, Enemies New
The TMNT reboot from IDW continues with the introduction of the mousers, the revelation of the turtles’ new origin, and a fateful meeting.
The mousers were the second villains to face off with the turtles in the original Mirage series. They were an invention of Baxter Stockman, aided by his assistant April O’Neil. Their appearance in the second issue was a bit jarring. Issue one, in which the turtles fought Shredder to the death, was very dark and silent, almost done in the style of an old samurai movie. The second issue had a campy comic book plot about an evil scientist using robots to rob banks. Though less memorable; the mouser story was more indicative of where the series would eventually go.
This time around, Baxter is far more than a throw-away villain. He is working on multiple projects; the mousers, of course; and also the mutigenic compound which created the turtles and Splinter. He is under contract from the alien general Krang, who, as in the original cartoon, is depicted as a brain with a face placed, in the stomach of a robot body.
Krang was a creation of the cartoon, though there was a similar face-brained race of benevolent aliens in the Mirage series. There is a lot of mixing of cannons in this new series, and thus far (at least) it’s being managed well. Everything fits together nicely and logically, and the interconnections lead to a greater sense of depth.
The TMNT’s new origin involves reincarnation. Despite the magical elements (which Donatello is very leery of), the new story actually makes a lot more sense than the old. In the Mirage series, Splinter was the pet rat of a ninja master, and learned the art by watching his owner from his cage. The carton series changed this to have Splinter be the ninja master himself, mutated into rat form. IDW splits the difference, with Splinter being originally a rat, but inhabited by the spirit of an actual man. The turtles are the reincarnated sons of the man who would be Splinter. This goes a long way to explaining how they could pick up ninjitsu so readily, and why they have an instant connection.
There is currently a new TMNT movie in production, and it was leaked that the producers wanted to change the origin to have the turtles be aliens from a planet of humanoid turtles. They should probably take a cue from the guys at IDW in how to fleshy out and develop an origin story without making it stupid.
In its second volume, TMNT continues to be an entertaining series. It is a highly-refined and updated version of the original; respectful of its origins, but cognizant of its flaws.