Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol 1 TP: Change is Constant (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writers: Kevin Eastman/Tom Waltz
Artist: Dan Duncan/Kevin Eastman 

Review: Collecting the first four issues of the 2011 IDW series, this book provides an effective re-telling of the slightly amended origin story of everyone’s favourite ‘heroes in a half-shell’.

The story – penned by Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz – has all the hallmarks of the traditional origin story we know and love, but with a few cosmetic alterations made along the way to several things, such as the back-stories of April O’Neil and Casey Jones.  Jones for instance is now far younger, with a volatile family background that plays into his first meeting with Raphael.  O’Neil on the other hand is now a lab assistant at Baxter Stockman’s ‘StockCorp’, and is actually responsible for naming the turtles in the first place.  Subtle adjustments for sure, but ones that serve to differentiate this particular version of the turtle universe from the previous incarnations

Some of the newly-introduced characters are extremely successful, such as the mutant cat ‘Old Hob’, whose intertwining origin story serves as an interesting counterpoint to the initial storyline.  There are also several nods to already known characters, such as Baxter Stockman himself and the currently unseen ‘General Krang’, and overall, we get the impression of a slightly expanded world that still retains the charm and elegance of the original series.

Of the turtles themselves, it is Raphael who commands the bulk of the narrative here, and it is through his struggles to ‘find himself’ (and to be found) that this initial arc is moved along.  The other turtles get enough service to establish their already well-known character traits without delving too deeply, and the dialogue retains the same mix of goofball humour alongside the slightly darker moments that have become a hallmark of this title in years past.

The artwork, while admittedly a little patchy in places, is extremely fitting to the tone of the story, and features several pages illustrated by Eastman himself.  The emotional expressiveness of the pre-mutation Splinter is a definite highlight, and the comic most definitely kicks into a higher gear during the frequent fluid, kinetic action scenes.

As an establishment of the new status quo, and a reintroduction to the characters we all know and love, there really isn’t much to fault here.  Yes, the story arc is fairly straightforward, and becomes occasionally bogged down in the large amount of exposition necessary when reinventing an origin story, but the pace remains quick throughout and it never feels like a chore to digest.

Whether you’re a fan of the turtles or just a fan of comics in general, this is a great jumping-on point for what appears at first glance to be an extremely well-realised and expansive story, and one that has near limitless potential to succeed as the run continues.

Despite its occasional flaws, this is a worthwhile addition to any comic fan’s collection.

Review: 7.5/10.

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