Comic Review: TMNT Universe #1
What’s better than one ongoing series? Two ongoing series! TMNT Universe #1 from IDW Publishing hits this week, seeking to match the standard set by the mainline title.
Comic Review: TMNT Universe #1
(W) Paul Allor, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, & Tom Waltz, (A) Damian Couceiro and Bill Siekiewicz, (C) Ronda Pattison and Tomi Varga, (L) Shawn Lee
To borrow an expression from a famous frog, it ain’t easy being green. That’s especially true when Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz, or in this case Paul Allor and Damian Couceiro are at the helm. And if the recent developments in TMNT #61 weren’t enough, a new ongoing series hits the street this week, giving Team Turtles a whole new set of problems. TMNT Universe #1 brings (or rather, drags) a familiar foe back into the spotlight: future Seth Brundle cosplayer Baxter Stockman.
True to form, Stockman is portrayed as a truly insufferable character. To clarify, “insufferable” might be Stockman’s most endearing trait, as paradoxical as that may seem. Throughout TMNT Universe #1, Stockman’s interaction with April is filled with skepticism, machismo arrogance, and animosity – and we wouldn’t want it any other way. These personality traits, combined with his brilliant mind, are what make Stockman such an intriguing villain in the Ninja Turtles universe. He was an unheralded part of the main TMNT series (despite his own Micro-Series issue), playing second fiddle to Shredder, Krang, Karai, and eventually Bebop and Rocksteady.
With regard to Turtles themselves, TMNT Universe #1 reads like a throwback of sorts. Mikey is part of the team, and four Turtles function as a single unit – surveying and later acting on the intelligence they gather from April’s one-on-one with Stockman. Their signature banter is also prevalent; resulting is welcome and necessary comic relief. If anyone is looking for a taste of what the IDW has been doing with the franchise since 2011 but does not want to plow through 60 issues (not including the various micro-series and miniseries), this is as accessible as it gets.
The question of continuity was bound to come up. Comic readers are mostly a fickle sort (source: I am a comic reader), and how this fits in given the tight narrative Eastman and Waltz have crafted since the debut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 2011. Does TMNT Universe #1 hold up under that level of scrutiny? In short… yes.
Though there is a rift in the team in the main series, there is a notable lack of animosity here. The general state of comradery amongst the four leads actually raises more questions about what this series is supposed to be. Does fully it take place in IDW’s mainline continuity? When does it take place? Will there be crossover characters and/or storylines? The majority of these questions are not answered, which will undoubtedly irk certain people. However, there is one question (and answer) which supercedes the others: Is this series worth reading? The answer is unquestionably “yes.”
TMNT Universe #1 is a welcome addition to IDW’s growing Ninja Turtles universe. Much like Tales of the TMNT sought to expand the Turtles’ world back in Mirage Studios’ heyday, TMNT Universe provides an outlet of exploration that heightens the an expansive and critically acclaimed world. With Allor and Couceiro stepping and delivering an excellent first chapter -along with the backup by Kevin Eastman and Bill Siekiewicz – TMNT Universe #1 easily worth the pricetag.