Originally written for Flickering Myth.
“The Turtles are whisked away to another dimension by a stranger-Renet! Forced to fight for their survival in a tournament featuring the greatest warriors in the universe, the brothers will have to master new fighting techniques and forge new alliances. But with the deck stacked against them, their chance of survival is slim!”
Back in 2012 TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman wrote and drew the first TMNT Annual for IDW. The story took place within the current continuity but was far enough removed that you could take it or leave it. In my hunger for anything with the words ‘IDW’ and ‘TMNT’ on the front I picked it up, only to discover it was best being left; with muddled art and an uninteresting story that seemed out of touch with the current monthly title and its quality storytelling.
Now we have his second entry with the 2014 Annual. Originally planned for release earlier in the year it’s delay caused a bit of confusion with regards to the Turtles in Time miniseries and the character Renet. She scoots around time and space so much that she doesn’t know if the people she knows have met her yet or how much they know. In Turtles in Time (I won’t abbreviate this one) the turtles knew her but we didn’t, and this time around they don’t know her but we do!
Renet interrupts a prank set up by Donatello and Michelangelo to whisk the brothers away to a world where a fighting tournament is held. Can they survive long enough to break the corrupt rulers grip? Will the prank be finished? Do we care?
I’ve already given you my opinion on the last annual, and I’m sorry to say it’s very much the same again. The reasons are threefold, so I’ll go through each in turn.
First up is the art style. Fans of Eastman’s style are bound to enjoy it, but I’ve never really been a fan and there is nothing to change that here. Simple yet muddled at the same time, I fond it hard to tell who was who (this links to the dialogue). This may be where it all started but much stronger styles have surpassed this and it just looks dated to me.
Then there is the dialogue, which sounds as though everyone is still from the 90’s. How can a character who hasn’t been to Earth and has only just met the turtles be screaming cowabunga? It’s written in such broad strokes that you don’t get emotionally involved in it. But worse than that, the characters don’t sound as they do in the main series. Leo shows vague concern. Raph wants to fight. Mikey and Donnie muck around. It’s as though someone who has only watched the first live action film wrote it.
To summarise here is my experience of the book in a nutshell:
1. Read dialogue, sigh.
2. Figure out who said what.
The last of my issues is the pacing. This is a 50-odd page comic but it feels very rushed. Quick intro, some fighting and then a magical resolution. There is no build up or investment that gave me reason to care about the outcome other than the turtles surviving.
There are positives though! The only things I can really give a thumbs up to are the colouring and lettering. Art and colour aren’t the same things to me, and though I don’t like the art, I do appreciate that the colours fit it well. The lettering also fits the style on show well and gives it an old-school look. Kudos to Pattison and Lee!
If you read my reviews you know I’m a big fan of IDW’s TMNT series. I’m up to date on the paperbacks for both the main series and the various mini-series, and I even own the first annual despite my opinion of it. I’ll end up buying the 2014 Annual, but only for my collection and not for future reading sadly. The synopsis at the start of this review (taken from solicitations) completely oversells what actually happens and makes it sound far more exciting than it is.
Kevin Eastman is quite rightly a legend and his hand in the main storyline is important. But personally I don’t think his style holds up, especially when compared to the quality of art and story we’re presented each month.