(w) Matthew K. Manning (A) Chad Thomas
After months of buildup, comic readers are the first to get a true look at the team dynamics of the upcoming animated series Rise of the TMNT. This show’s development has been talked about to death. I myself have discussed how divisive it has been, and expressed my own disappointment with certain changes brought on by the show. However, I’m not looking to judge this comic based on the new dynamics of the upcoming cartoon. Instead, I’m going to try my best to judge it based solely on the craftsmanship of writer Matthew K. Manning and artist Chad Thomas. And as a whole, their efforts produce a rather entertaining comic.
Rise of the TMNT #0 is loaded with jokes, and most of them land effectively. Manning’s script does not let up, from naming streets “Overly Ominous Avenue” to the banter between Splinter and April, there is bound to be at least one gag to elicit a giggle from readers. However, the Turtles themselves are buffoons. Their “mission” is caused by them ignoring April, and at the end of the day they don’t dispatch or incapacitate their foes (mutated silverfish), but merely relocate them to a different part of the city.
I’ve discussed in a previous article my disappointment in taking the leadership role away from Leonardo, and this issued demonstrates why it’s an issue. Raph is still impulsive, Donnie is the tech genius, and Mikey remains the party dude. But Leo is now… a discount Mikey? Like many of the changes made for this version of the TMNT, it just doesn’t work. This is not the fault of Manning or Thomas, but it is a flaw in the material presented nonetheless.
Speaking of Chad Thomas, he does a great job bringing energy and expressiveness to each and every page. He is not to blame for the unflattering character designs, and choses to keep the visuals moving at a frenetic pace. There are visual gags aplenty, and his ability to make characters cartoonishly emote makes for a genuinely pleasant experience.
Rise of the TMNT #0 is ultimately… just fine. Manning and Thomas do their best to make an entertaining bottle issue, but it is handcuffed by the parameters of the new animated show. Hopefully, IDW can reward this duo for turning subpar material into something that shockingly doesn’t feel like a waste of time.