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Comic Review: TMNT Urban Legends #4

The latest issue of TMNT Urban Legends is nuts! Donnie’s dead… or is he? Meanwhile, Splinter and some dragons take on a giant man-shark!

Comic Review: TMNT Urban Legends #4

(w) Gary Carlson (a) Frank Fosco (i) Andrew Pepoy (c) Adam Guzowski

Perhaps the best thing about TMNT Urban Legends is that literally anything can happen. Without the ties to a set continuity, the changes made to the Turtles by Carlson and Fosco are easy to digest and genuinely fun. Of course, at the time of its release, these changes were within continuity, making the series divisive among fans and ultimately dismissed by co-creator Peter Laird upon taking the reigns for Volume 4 at Mirage Studios. With that said, I get the joy of reading and reviewing them outside their time, and the bold decisions made by the creative team are refreshing.

For the first few issues, readers have seen Carlson and Fosco’s knack for changing the Turtles as we know them. Quickly, Raphael is disfigured and now hides his visage behind Casey Jones’ old hockey mask – a visually striking image to say the least. With this issue, it should be evident that the creative duo have completely discarded Stan Lee’s decree of providing readers “the illusion of change” in favor of full overhaul of the team. While Raphael’s new look is indeed different, it can be explained away in time. “His mutant blood made his wounds heal rather than make the disfigurement permanent” or something to that extent. However, with Donatello the creators make a loud declaration that times are indeed changing for the titular foursome. Without spoiling too much, he’s a “hero in a half-shell” no more.

Another thing that works in TMNT Urban Legends #4’s favor is the story just keeps moving. Though comics of this era are known for either their flashy art or over-abundance of dialogue, this book manages to balance both aspects of the medium quite effectively. It is by no means perfect. The dialogue is clunky in parts, while the art can be stiff or even awkwardly laid out on the page. However, the mix of character development, plot advancement, and pacing make for an enjoyable reading experience. Also adding the experience are the colors from Adam Guzowski. It seems that he has found his footing in coloring this series. While solid in Issues #1-3, Guzowski’s colors feel like an organic part of the creative process, not something tacked on decades later.

Overall, TMNT Urban Legends #4 is a pleasant surprise in a month of generally sub-par comics from IDW (Usagi Yojimbo is from Dark Horse). Though it reads as a product of its time, the creative team is not afraid to take risks with a property that regularly recycles the few stories. Seeing the Turtles in a flying or Splinter laying the smackdown on what’s essentially a Street Shark is a nice change from the regular rotation of villains.

Editor's Rating

Fun but Unrefined 7.5

The Author

Dan Gehen

Dan Gehen

Dan Gehen is a lot of things, but one thing he's been for his entire life is a TMNT fan (this has been verified by watching embarrassing home videos of his formative years). Though the classic 1980s cartoon caused his 3-year-old version to drive his parents insane via the constant repetition of "cowabunga dude", his true appreciation for the heroes in a half-shell came from the 1990 feature film as well as the comics by Mirage Studios. Today, he continues to enjoy comics from a variety of publishers, including the current TMNT series from IDW Publishing.

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