Showing posts with label TMNT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TMNT. Show all posts

Batman/TMNT crossover comic announced: 5 must-haves

First, IDW Publishing made the child in me feel all kinds of nostalgic with Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening's very entertaining Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters limited series. Now, the publisher has joined forces with DC to create a crossover that makes me want to throw the planet's entire supply of confetti in the air: Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not only were these my two favorite franchises back when I was a kid, but now I'm approaching the age of thirty (this August!) and, thanks to some excellent comics, video games, TV shows, and movies, I still adore these two franchises.
CBR landed the exclusive announcement, announcing the series will have six issues and the creative team is James Tynion IV and Freddie E. Williams IIHere's the official synopsis:
"In the ongoing power struggle between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, General Krang, and the Foot Clan, allegiances have shifted and the battle lines have been drawn. Krang concocts a plan to rid himself of both the Turtles and Shredder by transporting them to another dimension, where they land in the dark and dangerous streets of Gotham City. It isn't long before they encounter Gotham's most famous resident, Batman. The Caped Crusader may be their only hope of overcoming their enemies and getting back home. But not before they encounter a whole cast of Gotham's most infamous rogues."
If you can't tell by now, this news has me seriously thrilled. So far, this is easily the biggest surprise to come out of San Diego Comic-Con 2015 and it is without question the one that has me the most excited. The two released images - one above and one below - look awesome, and as terrific as seeing this team-up may be, it's going to take more than these heroes sharing the page to turn this into a memorable adventure. Only time will tell how the story is handled, but for now, here are five things I'd love to see in the limited series.

Character-driven, not plot-driven
When you have characters visiting another dimension, there's of course going to be a pretty big plot going on. How'd General Krang manage to pull this off? How will the Ninja Turtles (and presumably Shredder) get back to their own world? These are two huge questions which deserve a whole lot of attention, but at the end of the day, everyone is purchasing this story for the characters, not how the crossover happened and how it'll be resolved. The bigger picture will likely take more predictable (but probably fun) beats, but the character moments is where this limited series will have a chance to really impress. Batman's dynamic with the Ninja Turtles has so much potential! Mikey could joke about Bruce's serious demeanor or possibly even admire him; Raphael may get jealous or frustrated; Donatello could relish the chance to work with someone so brilliant; Leonardo may grow to respect Bruce's tactical mind and drive. In the end, they'll of course all bond and respect one another, but the conversations and the situations they'll produce are sure to be legitimately interesting.

Meanwhile, Shredder has a whole new city to conquer. Who will he get to follow him? Who may he view as a threat? Sweet mother of all that's holy, could we see a Shredder and Bane alliance?! I can't help but feel like Joker will pop up and, if he does, I sincerely hope he doesn't make a fool out of Shredder. The Clown Prince of Crime has had plenty of time to shine. This limited series not only has a chance to put the Ninja Turtles' personality on display as the interact with the Dark Knight, but it also has the chance to step up Oroku Saki's formidability and see whether or not he can provide Batman a legitimate challenge in the hero's own city.


Don't hold off the big meeting until the first issue's cliffhanger
There obviously needs to be buildup as the story and characters are all established, but we're all here to see the heroes interact. Saving that big meeting for the cliffhanger of the first issue? Not a cool move. I understand they'll do what they can to make the overall plot satisfying, but it would be hugely appreciated if they can effectively present all of the details and then have this meeting occur before the issue ends. Also, an intro page can be used to give the basics about all of the characters to save space and reduce exposition.

Interactions with other heroes in Gotham
The solicitation reveals we'll see more of Gotham's villains (which is so exciting), but what about Bruce Wayne's allies? A well-written Alfred interacting with these teenage mutants could be brilliant and delightfully lighthearted. Or what about Damian tossing some rude comments their way? Mikey and Raphael's reactions could be pure gold. The journey can give us a lot of insight into the Ninja Turtles and Batman, but these extra characters have the potential to make things all kinds of fun. If Shredder's forming an army and getting a chance to mingle with Batman's famous rogues gallery, then witnessing the Ninja Turtles interacting with Alfred, Damian, Nightwing, and others could be a real joy - especially if they all join forces for a massive battle in the end. That would be an overwhelming amount of fan service, wouldn't it?

Batman vs. Shredder
If Batman and Shredder are in the same city, Batman and Shredder need - yes, need - to have a jaw-dropping melee battle. We know Shredder and Splinter are the best fighters in their universe, but how do they hold up against the Dark Knight - one of DC's most gifted fighters? I'd place my money on Batman winning - even if hand-to-hand is a stalemate, he has several gadgets that are game changers - but still, this is a chance to show that Oroku Saki's skill is great enough to take on the Caped Crusader. Then, that means Master Splinter can as well. As someone who spends far too much time discussing "who would win in a fight?" - because I'm an adult like that - this is an important opportunity to show us how the IDW combatants stack up to DC characters.
There's no need to pander
By now everyone knows the Ninja Turtles love pizza and have dated (yet still awesome) catchphrases. There's no need to pull Batman into those things and make him look a little silly by suddenly learning to appreciate pizza (note: Batman's favorite topping is justice) or getting him to unenthusiastically say "cowabunga" when the villain is defeated. There's natural ways to acknowledge these things without making it feel forced. For example, Michelangelo could make a joke about how the pizza in Gotham is terrible. Could the things I'm complaining about be used and work? Totally, but I'd prefer to see the crossover avoid the obvious.

Bonus: Stealth!
Master Splinter has taught the Ninja Turtles to rely on stealth. Batman? Yeah, he's kind of the master of stealth. It would be amazingly cool if there's at least one solid scene of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles using stealth to infiltrate an enemy stronghold and they're able to take out a number of goons without even being spotted.


Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will go on sale this November. Yes, I will absolutely review it!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #45 review

*Yes, this review has SPOILERS! Do yourself a favor and make sure you've read #44 and #45 before reading this.*

So, that happened. Unless you read the solicitation first or the internet spoiled you, odds are Donatello's vicious defeat at the hands of Bebop and Rocksteady was quite a jaw-dropper. The whole time that fight was going down, I kept thinking of different ways my favorite Ninja Turtle would make it out of the situation just fine. "Maybe Alopex and Nobody will show up at the last second. Maybe there's another device in the lab that'll save him. Maybe..." But no, nothing happened to save the mutant from the evil duo's brutality and I was left wondering just one thing: is Donatello really dead or is he barely alive? This latest issue wastes no time answering that question as we quite literally see that Donatello hasn't "walked towards the light" just yet.
Let's talk about the developments with Donatello since, you know, they're kind of a big deal. What Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, and Bobby Curnow are doing makes perfect sense. Even if you thought Donnie was dead, there's about a 0% chance you sincerely thought it would be permanent. Instead of dragging his fate on and on, they immediately present a way to keep Donatello "alive" that doesn't technically bring "him" back. This option also feels very fitting for this universe -- a place which is rich in technology and fantasy. It's also a solid way to keep Fugitoid in the loop; I was concerned he'd vanish for awhile after the conclusion with General Krang. It's a shame leaks blatantly spoiled this issue's cliffhanger for me (seriously, please remember to use proper spoiler etiquette, people), but that's not something I can hold against the issue.

To me, placing Donatello's consciousness into Metalhead doesn't lessen the impact of what happened. It showed that, despite their dim-witted nature and goofy personalities, Bebop and Rocksteady aren't a duo anyone should take lightly and they clearly have no problem crossing the line and being incredibly cruel. They're oblivious to their own strength, and that makes them ridiculously dangerous. It doesn't change how much it impacts Donnie's loved ones, either. You'd be mistaken to believe putting his personality into Metalhead suddenly makes everything okay. We all know he'll eventually get back into his mutated body, but for now, this is going to create an interesting dynamic. Will they treat him differently? Will this change his personality? Will he want revenge? Or will this push him to hide once he does get back in his body -- you know, in an effort to keep himself safe? Given what we saw in Turtles in Time, that would make sense. Or would Donatello know that taking that path means the death of his brothers? I'm really hoping that future version of him isn't forgotten as the story moves forward.

As we see in this issue, Bebop and Rocksteady's violent actions aren't going to be glossed over. (I so can't wait for Raph to go after them.) As expected, Raphael is beyond pissed off and he's lashing out. This brought about a surprising response from Mikey -- it's nice to see his more serious moments from time to time, isn't it? -- and it's making Leonardo feel guilty over the decisions they've made. We all know Donatello will eventually be okay, but for now, this development is loaded with potential and its already taking the series in a more compelling and interesting direction, especially with his mutant brothers. Now, that's not to say it wasn't interesting or compelling to begin with; it's been consistently great! But something this traumatic should have a huge impact on everyone and it's looking like it absolutely will.
The stuff going on around Donatello's weakened body is solid, but I especially love what they're doing with the purple-masked turtle's spirit. As everyone else worries or works to save him, we see Donatello in another, well, dimension. As his spirit encounters his mother, and his father races to prevent him from accepting his end, Charles Paul Wilson III's pencils are the perfect addition to this sequence. Obviously, they're drastically different than artist Mateus Santolouco's work (he handles the rest of the issue), but given the fact it's a completely different setting and tone, it feels so right. With a soothing handling of the colors and location and an especially strong and skilled emphasis on compassionate expressions, these visuals really pull you into the scene and deliver a totally appropriate amount of emotion.

While a good portion of the issue is dedicated to Donnie follow-up and it's way more emotional, Casey Jones is given one simple task in this issue: give the readers some awesome action. Thanks to artist Mateus Santolouco's insanely energetic visuals, Ronda Pattison's consistently talented and eye-catching coloring, and some really badass and fast-paced choreography, Jones' brief role is a blast. It ends on a note that feels a little unclear (there's no way Hun was unaware of that brawl after the gunshot, so was it just a diversion?), but hopefully that'll be explained in the next issue. After April's parents bonded with the vigilante, I can't help but feel like they're in serious danger and we could soon witness a real death.
As if the spotlight on "dying Donnie" and Casey Jones wasn't enough, the villains also receive just a wee bit of love. We get a very brief update with the Foot (Karai, Bebop & Rocksteady, etc) and it's just enough of a teaser for what's to come, but the really good teaser comes from the new alliance that is forming between Baxter Stockman and Shredder. It's terrific this isn't your typical "evil boss and not happy yet still subservient scientist" dynamic. Stockman is done taking orders and he's taken steps to make sure he isn't taken advantage of or walked all over. His plan will probably fail miserably sooner or later, but it's great they're taking a different approach to the alliance and it makes the scientist seem way more formidable. There's a mutual "respect" here and I definitely want to see how this will continue to play out.

It really is impressive just how much story this team can pack into each and every issue. Not only do we get a satisfying follow-up to Donatello's situation -- one which takes advantage of this universe's mystical and sci-fi elements -- but you can also feel the tension building everywhere else. By the time you're done with this issue, you can tell at least three different plot points are ready to explode. Equally impressive is Santolouco and Pattison's consistently stellar visuals. Those two continue to bring a crazy amount of energy to these pages and Charles Paul Wilson III's handling of Donatello's scenes created the perfect atmosphere while also delivering powerful expressions. It's tempting to say something cheesy here -- something like "I love being a turtle('s fan)" -- but I'd much rather be blunt: IDW's TMNT is a damn good series. This publisher is giving us an unforgettable incarnation of the franchise and I can't wait to see what they'll dish out next. If you consider yourself a TMNT fan, you need to be following this series. If not, you're missing out on some truly great stuff.

Battle of the Stephen Amells: Arrow vs. Casey Jones

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE AMELL! Sorry, couldn't resist.
When someone says "Stephen Amell," odds are you immediately think of Arrow. That may change next year since the actor has been cast as Casey Jones -- the rough vigilante who wears a hockey mask -- in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel. We'll just have to wait and see if he becomes an awesome version of the fan favorite character, but for now, I can't help but wonder what would happen if these two heroes got into a brawl. We know Amell will get plenty of "who would win in a fight?" questions about these two at press junkets, and odds are he'll try his best to makes sure he doesn't upset either fanbase. Or maybe he'll totally surprise us and say one blatantly wins. Guess we'll find out eventually. However, I have no problem declaring a winner and I do believe one of these vigilantes does hold a clear edge. Before I say who should be the one left standing when the fight is over, let's go over their advantages and disadvantages. I mean, it's the fair thing to do, right?

Amell's Green Arrow is a gifted hand-to-hand fighter and one hell of a good shot with projectile weapons. He's held his own against various skilled enemies in melee combat over the course of 3 seasons. From China White to Deathstroke to Maseo, we know he's one of the strongest melee combatants in his world. He's had trouble with plenty of enemies and it was clear people like Bronze Tiger and Ra's al Ghul are his superior in technique, but he was still able to give Bronze Tiger trouble and Ra's had a whole lot of praise for Arrow's abilities as a fighter (despite the fact the hero was totally sloppy during their fight, but whatever). Simply put, the dude's got solid technique and that has allowed him to adapt to a variety of opponents and thanks to the harsh stuff he endured on the island and then in Starling City, we know he can take quite a lot of punishment, too. Obviously, he's had plenty of showings to justify he's a good shot with everything from an ordinary arrow to a throwing dagger. That's established right from the very first episode (those poor tennis balls) and even though Ray Palmer wasn't moving, a recent episode of Arrow showed Oliver can quickly use a throwing weapon with great precision. This should be proof he's capable of disarming Casey at a distance. Well, assuming he even tries to.

"Goongala? You have failed at catchphrases."
Arrow's pretty awesometastic in combat, but despite having a bunch of trick arrows available to him, he doesn't tend to use them very frequently. He's also quick to rush into melee combat despite being an impressive marksman. He could beat most characters by hanging back and putting those trick arrows to use, but he doesn't do that all that often. Sure, we can say he regularly avoids that strategy because it would make many of the show's conflicts way too easy for him, but we have to treat that as how he acts in character. So, even though he could quickly end this with some trick arrows right when the fight starts, that doesn't seem very probable and the odds of him choosing to duke it out after firing just a few arrows are very likely. He'll also do everything he can to avoid killing, and while that technically isn't a disadvantage (it certainly doesn't make Batman any less dangerous, does it?), it does mean he's holding back and this is something that can be taken advantage of. Arrow's hesitation could give Casey the small opening he'd need for a cheap shot.

We've seen plenty of versions of Casey Jones and right now we have no idea what Amell's version will be like, but the one thing they all have in common is they're aggressive brawlers who have no problem dishing out a cheap hit. In fact, Jones tends to love landing cheap hits. Whether it's while his enemy is talking or if they think he may be down for the count, the Ninja Turtles character uses any opportunity he can to strike his enemy when their guard is down. It's not the most honorable approach around, but when your fighting style is sometimes "it's okay if you get hit, just hit back harder," then I guess you got to do what you got to do. He doesn't have the same extensive training and technique Arrow has, but he makes up for that by simply being an incredibly tough dude. His first brawl with Raphael (in the Mirage comic) was a brutal encounter that wiped both of them out and since then we've seen him land plenty of cheap shots when his enemies think he's too weak to continue and have their guard down. Seeing as Arrow loves to get in close and he wouldn't want to dish out any lethal damage, I'd say there's a good chance Casey Jones is going to get some extremely cheap hits in. They may not keep Oliver down for the count, but even stunning the archer would leave him vulnerable to some follow-up attacks.

 "You want a fist in the mouth? I've never even looked at your abs." 
Casey's one tough fellow who knows how to take a hit and send one back even harder, but he isn't the most tactical or skilled fighter around. It's clear Oliver has the edge in martial arts knowledge and that means he's going to land more hits. We know Casey can take a beating, but he's only human and those hits will begin to add up. He'll use this to his advantage and get a sucker punch or two in as Arrow thinks his opponent is going to stay down, but the longer the fight goes on, the more and more it shifts in Oliver's favor. While Casey's limited to close combat (he could throw his blunt weapons, but he'd be throwing them at a dude who deals with marksmen, so it's not a game changer), Arrow can eventually think something along the lines of, "Okay, I'm done with this," and use a trick arrow to take Casey out of the fight. Whether it's an electric arrow to the chest, a rope tying Casey to a wall, or even just using an explosive close enough to knock Casey down, Arrow is bringing so much more versatility to the fight. There's no reason to believe he wouldn't be okay with tagging Casey in non-lethal areas with some regular arrows as well. When it's up close, it'll be entertaining as Oliver dishes out better skill and Casey unleashes a more rough and direct style, but at a distance, well, Casey better hope he has plenty of cover.

In the end, I just don't see Casey Jones' toughness overcoming Arrow's superior skill and variety of gear. Knowing Arrow, this will come down to close combat at some point (the guy was foolish enough to go hand-to-hand against Bronze Tiger in their second brawl), but I think he'd eventually realize the best way to take a key edge over Jones is with one of his spiffy arrows. Even if that doesn't happen, he can just win because of his better hand-to-hand knowledge. It would be a pretty cool battle to witness and Arrow would probably walk away with some bruises, but in the end, I see the DC hero holding all of the important advantages. He's more skilled, has more options, and he definitely doesn't have a glass jaw. That said, I'd be rooting for Casey Jones the entire time. Sorry, Arrow.

Thoughts on Stephen Amell being cast as Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2

Well, it looks like Stephen Amell, a.k.a. the brooding vigilante in Arrow, has been cast as Casey Jones in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel. When I saw Variety's headline, the first thing that crossed my mind actually had nothing to do with whether Amell will be a good incarnation of the dude who loves to scream "goongala!" Instead, my first thought was, "good for him." I may have a ton of criticisms about Arrow and to be totally honest there are plenty of moments when his acting isn't the strongest around, but based on the way I've seen Amell interact with fans, I can't help but root for the actor. So, while I'm sure many knee-jerk reactions were either excited, disappointed, or all kinds of neutral, I simply thought, "way to go, man." Now, do I think Amell's the right person for the part? Let's talk about it.

It's obviously worth noting articles like these are 99.9% speculation. We can think someone is horrible for a part and then they'll make us eat our words. Or we can think someone's a perfect fit and they can disappoint. Basically, unless the person has an atrocious resume or if you just don't like them, I think it's important to apply a "wait and see" mentality. But hey, if you don't want to, that's cool as well. You do you, right? Now, this non-casting director is going to react to the casting news.
"The class is Pain 101. Your instructor is Oliver Queen."
When I think of Casey Jones, I think of someone who has an in your face personality and a blunt sense of humor. So yeah, Stephen Amell's work on Arrow doesn't make me immediately think of him having either of those qualities. But just because he hasn't done them doesn't mean he can't do them. Arrow's an overly dramatic show, attempting to constantly establish a dark and serious atmosphere. Obviously, that hasn't given Amell the freedom to goof around very much. I mean, how many times have you even seen the guy smile or crack a joke in the show? It's not very often. 

I'm not saying you need an Oscar winning performance for this movie, but if you're bringing a fan favorite to life, you have to bring the personality. Arrow doesn't give me the most faith around in his ability to pull that off, but it's worth noting he's made significant improvements since the first episode and this role will give him the chance to play a way more entertaining and easy going character. Seeing as he landed the gig, it's safe to say he's capable of embracing the personality -- how well though has yet to be seen. Now it's just a matter of seeing whether he makes the character likable and funny or abrasive and annoying. I'm really curious to see whether he'll have a bit of a New York accent, too. It's not required, but if he can pull it off, I'd love to see that happen.

"Okay, let's give this a try, funkoid!"
The good news is Amell's certainly got the look and physical skill to play as Casey Jones. The man sure can appear imposing, and if someone is going to be crazy enough to fight with these big Ninja Turtles -- well, probably just Raphael -- then yeah, I can picture Amell dressed in some sports attire and doing what he can to land some cheap shots on a sai-wielding Ninja Turtle. Seeing him with long hair or using a New York accent may be odd at first to us Arrow fans, but assuming he gives it his all and does a fine job, I can picture him being an amusing part of the movie.

If you asked me to think of 20 actors who could be Casey Jones in the movie, Amell honestly wouldn't have made the list. But I have to admit, the dude certainly has what it takes to look the part and hold his own in some brawls. That said, one small criticism I have is the guy just doesn't sell pain very well. If Raph is going to slug him across the face or if he's going to battle some Foot Clan ninjas, I really need him to sell that moment when he's the one getting struck. You just know Casey is going to take some hits, so when he does, I don't want it to remind me that he's playing make-believe with some guys in costumes or motion capture outfits. I know it sounds silly (we're talking about mutated turtles who fight crime, after all) and it kind of is, but an unbelievable reaction from an actor can really take you out of the moment and that causes the whole illusion comes crashing down. This happened to me when Flash was landing a gazillion punches on him in the awesome crossover episode and once again when he struggled against Ra's al Ghul. I think Amell is capable of pull off Jones' personality and he probably won't have his emotional range pushed with this role, but it's pretty much guaranteed he's going to be in plenty of action. When he is, I hope he makes getting hit look every bit as good as the ones he's dishing out.

"Hey, what are you, some sort of punker?"
The TL;DR version: Amell has the physique to make the character seem like a boss in fights, but everything else is pretty much "wait and see" since his character in Arrow is nothing like Casey Jones and, when it comes to his abilities as an actor, that's pretty much all I've seen from him. They're both tough, but their personalities are drastically different and that means I haven't seen Amell deliver a more amusing and animated performance. I'm rooting for Amell and I think he obviously has potential to make the role memorable, but I just can't say that with total confidence right now. However, let's be totally honest with ourselves here: even if his performance is pretty bad, I really doubt it'll be the worst part about the movie. Oh, and if an Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak relationship is called "Olicity," I guess that makes one between Casey Jones and April O'Neil "Casil," doesn't it? Although, "Caseil" sounds cooler. Sorry, I couldn't resist going there.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics #1 Review

Holy sweet nostalgia, Batman!  This is the best $3.99 you're ever going to spend.  If you're a Turtles fan, there's literally no reason not to buy this.  Even if you own an original copy of the 1984 Mirage issue by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, this will give you the chance to keep that copy nice and clean and use this fresh one for reading.  And, if you've never had the chance to read the very first Turtles adventure (understandable seeing as the back issues are expensive and graphic novels are costly as well), then this is going to be quite a delight.

This is what started it all; this issue tells the origin story of the heroes in a half shell, Splinter and their most popular nemesis, Shredder.  Some might be surprised that this franchise wasn't for the kiddies at first.  Right in the opening sequence we see that the Turtles get full use of their deadly weapons, showing no mercy on thugs in the Big Apple.  From the battle on the first pages to the rooftop showdown with the Shredder, we're treated to some bloody and brutal encounters.  In spite of how dark the world is,  you can't help but have a smile on you're face as you read through this classic first issue.
I really have no serious complaints surrounding this issue.  Obviously, Eastman's style may not be for everyone, but I mostly love it and think the color brings so much more energy to these panels.  The proportions tend to fluctuate at times, and while most of the action is illustrated incredibly well, there are a few panels that don't do the motion and impact full justice... at one point it actually looks like Michelangelo attacks Shredder with a hug (a devastating attack indeed).  Overall, that's a very minor complaint, especially seeing as most of the art is fantastic.  The splash pages would make for awesome posters and the details on the war-torn Turtles definitely catch your eye.

If you even remotely consider yourself a Turtles fan, I highly recommend picking this up.

5/5