Review: IDW TMNT #5

Welcome to my review of TMNT #5, still in the midst of catching up with comics that came out during the time of my surgery and while healing.  If you’ll like to know more about the surgery and why I fell behind here on Cowabunga Corner, please read RSD Update.

When I picked up issue 5 of IDW TMNT comics, I had no clue what to expect.  I knew that the first story arc was to be covered in the first four issues.  All I knew was I wanted to see some character growth or find out more about this past that Splinter referred to in issue 4.  I was surprised by how much was given.

We start with Splinter out on an errand, though being hunted by Old Hob’s gang members.  These two are not a match for Splinter, as he takes them out very easily, even with something else weighing on his mind.  As he’s thinking a story that this reminds him of, he starts to share this story which he is relating his outing to.

This is the start of an interesting beginning, showing the scene of an attack much like the one Splinter did to the thugs.  At this point I grew a bit excited realizing that we were about to get the other story that I wanted to hear.  Really the art work helps move this scene along. We cut the beginning of the story short as we move over to the next page to see the Turtles training.  Raphael is showing improvement as he spars with his brothers, using Ninja skills in his fighting styles now.  In talking to Raphael, we learn that he has been part of the group for a month now. We also learn that the Turtles have all felt like they knew these skills, as if they were just fine-tuning themselves.  The last bit of information we learn here is that it took 4 months before Splinter gave the other turtles their weapons.

This two page coverage of what’s going on with the Turtles is great, it shows them starting to bond with Raph, it shows that they’re working as a team and we learn important information we did not know before about the Turtles.  It finally explains why we’re suppose to believe that they could be ninjas this good after only a year of training.

Going back to Splinter, he is still being reminded of a time long since passed.  As he’s avoiding more of the gang members who work for Old Hob, Splinter’s memories start to tell us the story of Hamato Yoshi, a man who lived in Feudal Japan and was a part of the Foot Clan.  When his clan brother, Oroku Saki, started to lead the Foot clan down power-hungry paths of dishonor, Yoshi stood up to him and left the clan. Saki saw this as Treason.  He ordered the Foot to kill Yoshi’s family, Tang Shen and their four children.  When Yoshi returned home he found Tang Shen bloody on the ground, though the ninjas who did this had not yet made it to the children.  He killed the attackers and went to his wife as she begged for him not go after revenge but to flee with their childen. He does as she asks, taking the children and going into hiding.

This was a totally new twist to the Ninja Turtles backstory.  Almost to the point where I don’t know if I can really feel these will ever be the same Turtles.  Even though at this point it was as if Splinter was telling someone else’s story, you could see in the art, character designs and colors chosen for things that this is the true backstory of these Ninja Turtles.

A big change from anything us fans have ever known.  The children each had that of a look that the Ninja Turtles have, there was the oldest looking one in blue, the second oldest one in purple, the third eldest in red and the youngest was in orange.  Each could be defined as the human versions of the four Turtles with Yoshi as Splinter.  I reread this backstory at least four times before moving on to the next part of the story.   While excited about the missing story being filled in, there was also a hint of disappointment.  Once again another story of Oroku Saki where it shows him turning towards evil, without a real reason given.  The original Mirage comics remain the only version of the Saki that I can respect, as his path was chosen for him when his brother was murdered by Yoshi.

Going from this impact of a new history we jump to present day where Casey Jone is talking with his hockey coach.  The coach is disappointed as he wants Casey back on the team.  This leads back to the talk that Raph and Casey had in issue 3 with how his grades have dropped.  He recommends for Casey to get a tutor.  It shows that Casey has not opened up to his coach at all.  Casey’s depression is showing through, while the Coach sees it, he doesn’t understand it.

Just a little touch on Casey, which is good for character growth and reminding us that he’s still in the story.  Even though we’re not seeing him with the Turtles, it shows his life outside of hanging out with Raph.  At least we know that if Casey wants to open up, he has Raphael.

The following page goes into April’s current story, she’s going away for a vacation but before doing so she leaves her number up offering tutoring for any subject in exchange for self defense lessons.  As April is leaving the office where she hung up the page, Casey is going into the office.

This is a very settle way of hinting how April and Casey get to meet.  Not much I can say about this page besides for the fact that it’s to help move the story along.

We go back to Splinter, who is making his journey home.  Still having to be sneaky as the gang members are searching for him.  He gets into the sewer and goes on with the story that has caught my attention the most in this issue.  It shows Yoshi returning from a trip, bringing his sons gifts. They are attacked by Saki dressed up in armor much like the Shredder’s.  The Foot take Yoshi and his family down. As Yoshi prayed to Buddha to all the powers in the universe for Justice, his sons were killed in front of him.  Once the boys were taken, Yoshi himself was killed.  This looks to be the end of a story, one in which would never be able to go on. Though Splinter’s ending to this story goes on to day “Yet their tale does not end. It has now become one of new hope.”

These pages of this history has made me fall in love with the IDW comics, not as the Turtles that I once knew, but for this new version of them as a new universe.  Just as I care deeply for the Tour Turtles, the Next Mutation, the Original cartoon, the movies and the 4Kids series.  Every version of the Turtles has something that holds me, and now IDW has brought forth a reason for me to crave picking up these comics.  This background story, though not deep with the villain, shares a depth with the good guys, a trauma that they have never had before.  One which could lead to new and interesting stories.

The art work over these pages were Great!  You felt things, seeing the personality of the children without much words spoken.  Right before the children were killed you get to see their expressions, which were strong and read into each character.  I like that foot warriors have foot symbols on their head bands which look a lot like the original cartoon foot symbols.  Really from the story telling to the art work, I find this back story my new drive to want to keep reading the IDW comics.

We go back to the present day where the Turtles are sitting around the lair eating pizza as Splinter comes in.  Splinter bring gifts for the Turtles, as he explains that the reason they all wore red was because red was Raphael’s favorite color.  Now that Raph is with them he has brought them each masks that are their own favorite color, Leonardo with blue, Donatello is purple and Michelangelo as orange.  He as the Turtles trade out their bandanas to try on the new ones.  He also brought a gift for Raphael, giving him his sais.

This here is of interest as I was never excepting to see the Turtles in this series go with the color masks.  We have now seen a whole new world of Ninja Turtles get created using the colors of the original comics, only for them to reveal that in this new world they will be marked by the colors of the original cartoon.  Basically they’re showing us that this is really something new, a relaunch unlike any other.

While they’re giving us all this new stuff I see a lot of things being kept true like the character of each of the Turtles and Splinter, even April, Casey and Baxter all seem very much like their former selves. It’s like walking into a very whacked out episode of “Sliders”  (An old TV show on the Sci-Fi/SyFy network).

Finishing up the comic is a showing of where each of our heroes are at this time.  Casey at his mother’s grave, April visiting her mom for the holidays and the turtles with Splinter having a small Christmas tree which only had four lights on it... orange, purple, red and blue.  They even put on the last page “Happy Holidays from IDW Publishing and Nikelodeon!”  reminding us that this is a December/Holiday issue.

When I read issue 4 I thought that was going to be the wrap up of the first story arc, though I think issue five makes a better wrap up point.  I really feel it with the back story of Hamato Yoshi and I can not wait to see where they go from here.

My favorite part in this issue goes back to the Turtles training, getting to see Raph interacting with the others.  I love the art, the work of moving the story along with character growth.  Seeing the guys relaxed, not in a battle situation.  In this moment, I felt it could of been the turtles from any of the realms that we already know and love.  I hope to see more scenes like this through the series.  My other favorite part in this comic is the Yoshi story line, because it’s not so broken up and you feel like you get a full story beginning, middle and end within this one comic.  I’d like to see a little more of that, with another story underlining the whole thing.

My less favorite thing about this issue is going back to my problem with the first four issues.  They keep splitting the stories up into smaller stories.  So it still feels like we’re not getting much for the price we pay with each comic.  I’m hoping that IDW can get around to where we see one story going on, that can hold us without giving us only 4 to 6 pages of each group.

Tom Waltz, Dan Duncan and Kevin Eastman are bringing us on a new thrill ride all their own.  And I personally am recommending this to Turtle fans, new and old, to give this a try.  Do not go in looking for the old, because this is all new. While new it’s still something that could hold your interest if you’re willing to give it a try.

Tomorrow I’ll have up my review of IDW TMNT #6, then I’ll do the reviews of Raphael and Michelangelo’s Mirco Series issues.  I hope everyone is enjoying this reviews.  Please do comment and share your thoughts about IDW TMNT #5 here on this page!  We would LOVE to hear your feedback!

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