A “Tale” by 2 Newbies or A review of Tales 61


While vegging online the other day, Stephan IMed me and asked me if I’d be willing to help him out by reviewing an upcoming issue of Tales. I told him of course, seeing as how I hadn’t posted anything substantial in awhile. (Heck, I still have 3 issues of Turtle Soup left to review.) As to give me a little more time, he handed me responsibility of reviewing issue 61, produced by the creative team of Tristan Jones and Andres Ponce (when I realized that tid-bit I was even more excited. I heard these guys were good.) Alright. Enough exposition, on to the review.

So as to keep this a from being too spoiler-ific, I’m gonna just break the issue down into 2 parts, art and story. I’m not going to tell the story, you’ll have to read it for yourself, I’m just going to “grade” it. (Boy, this is gonna be rough…where do I come off, right?)

Andres’ art is very impressive, lots of great detail and gritty images. The Turtles are as lean and green as ever, leaping into lots of great super-hero action poses, that don’t bend the laws of physics. The characters are also recognizable. I know, what kind of odd praise is that, but let me regale you with a story. You see last week my fiancé was in town and we went flea marketing. At one store I found a black and white one shot comic called Xeno-Men (I know, original right?) Anyway, in this book it was hard to distinguish any 2 characters from another. Here, Andres, also in black and white style, uses shading to make characters distinct, even the four Turtles, whither it be with costuming or other identifying marks. I’d probably give the art a 5 out of a possible 5. What can I say, I’m not hard to impress. Kidding.

I liked this story. No easier way to say it. It was action packed, but also had some character moments. The story picks up from Tristan and Andres last “Tale” and I have to admit, I didn’t read it. (My local comic shop doesn’t carry TMNT books.) But despite that, I was more than able to enjoy the “kick butt ninja action.” Trist also adds a lot “bleeped” profanity, making the book a bit grittier and, dare I say, PG-13. (Actually if you un-bleeped the bleeped words, it’d probably be R. Wonky rating system.) Another thing I enjoyed were the pop culture references. As a pop culture junkie it made me smile. I do have one minor complaint, and it has been brought up before elsewhere with Tristan’s stories and it’s the “established Mirage timeline” issues. Tristan has explained that he sees the Turtles timeline similar to the Marvel/DC time line, where time is relative, and, in the case of say Spider-man, Peter Parker wasn’t bitten in 1962, but a year ago. Here we see the Turtles using cell phones, quipping about Michael Bay (a reference I loved, oddly enough), and playing Guitar Hero. Again, works in a “time is relative” Mirage Universe, but with the Mirage Universe (and by extension the Turtles) aging more or less in real time, it can be slightly jarring when you realize that the City at War this is supposed to be surrounding happened, in canon, over 20 years ago. Again though, minor quibble in an overall good book. A score of 4 ½ out of 5 shows how minor said quibble is when you’re engaged in the story.

So there you go, a spoiler free review. I’m surprised I could pull it off. How’d I do guys? 😀

Tales of the TMNT Review #56

Greetings, one and all…

tales-of-the-tmnt-56-cover1I will be the first to admit that I am not as able to keep up to date with the current TMNT comics as I should be. I tend to check out the official TMNT website for summaries and glimpses of a few pages. But what I can say about this most recent issue from the Jones/Harmon powerhouse is definitely going to be a memorable one for TMNT fans.

I know the idea of putting a cartoon character into the Mirage universe caused some to hesitate. But Tristan’s own interpretation of Hun – Hunter Mason – is a solid character that you can really love to hate.

If you are not one for plot spoilers, I will warn you now. You can skip the next Three paragraphs, and go straight to the art itself.

The timeline for this story takes place a month after Tristan/Harmon’s previous conglomerate, Tales #36 “To Protect and Serve”. Nearly as year has passed since the City at War arc of Vol. 1, Donatello and Splinter are back home from Northampton, and busily helping April and Casey set up the apartment for their new family. Shadow is almost a year old at this point. The continuation of the City At War Plotline is very exciting for those familiar with that story. We see a couple returning characters from #36, and I’m getting a strong feeling that we’ll be seeing some further build-up to this storyline in the very near future…

Tristan’s story introduces us to a darker, more threatening version of Hun than we’ve seen in the animated series.  It opens with a young, beaten up Casey staring defiantly at a late-teens(?) Hun, who’s got a knife in his side. The mountain of a man removes the knife and literally beats the life out of Casey while his family is forced to look on in horror. It’s this attack that most likely spurs Casey into becoming a hockeystick-wielding vigilante. You can easily understand how these two lives become so inexplicably intertwined…

More than just the lumbering brute that utters ‘Oh Crud’ whenever something happens, he is a fierce enemy who’s bound to become a favorite among the official Rogues Gallery – and leave you hungry for more…
Okay, no more spoilers, I promise…

tales-of-the-tmnt-56-sampleThe Art itself is something to behold. If the horrified eyes peering out of a shattered hockey mask isn’t enough to catch your attention, the sneering face of Hun should be enough to make you wonder what the heck is going on.  Dooney’s frontispiece alone could be good enough as a pin-up poster like they used to have back then.

I’ve always been fond of B&W artwork, just because I tend to see color sometimes taking away from the tiniest details of shading and textures.

Harmon is a master of this gritty, Vol. 1 style of artwork. I would say it was done with charcoal – Heck, maybe even Gunshot Residue for all the action taking place. The lighting is smooth, almost milky, which in contrast makes the strong lines almost too dark, but overall it just screams the perfect amount of Atmosphere. Once you get an eye for Harmon’s artwork, it’s almost addictive in nature not to stop examining for the little details.

Even the way the turtles are drawn is something to notice. What I’ve noticed about Harmon’s turtles is that they seem very much inspired by the character designs of the very first Turtles movie. I noticed this a lot with Tales #36, and more so here.
Overall, this is a fantastic addition to the history of Tales of the TMNT, and I’m sure it will become a fast favorite for your collection.

Thanks for reading!