There is an old saying that every comic is someone’s first. And while most publishers focus their efforts on the core comic market (18-40 year old men), they fail in luring in new readers at a younger age. While the cost of comics is certainly a factor, there also happens to be a dearth of material that is equally appealing and suitable for younger readers. TMNT: Amazing Adventures manages to strike that balance. In issue #13, readers are treated to the start of a new arc that captures the look and feel of the current Nickelodeon show – complete with zany antics.
The main feature by Matthew K. Manning and Chad Thomas has an entry point that is familiar to both younger and older fans of the franchise: Donatello is working on a means to return Splinter to his human form. Its a noble cause which enables readers to quickly invest themselves in the story’s outcome. Manning writes Donnie as dedicated and overworked to the point of fatigue, which instantly sells the character’s devotion to both his work and his father figure.
This sequence also lends itself well to Thomas’ skills as a storyteller. If the pages were void of any dialogue, readers would still be able to comprehend the plot because of the dynamic and expressive nature of his art. The expressiveness of the art is crucial in the execution of an integral TMNT characteristic: humor. There are some well placed bits of physical comedy throughout the story that land well because of pacing as dictated by Thomas’ layouts.
Sadly, the pacing as a whole is uneven. As strong as it is in the early pages, Manning and Thomas falter towards the conclusion. The fantastic comedic timing and methodical pace evaporates, resulting in a sloppy, rushed sprint to the cliffhanger. As an adult, I had to re-read the final pages several times to fully comprehend it – I can only imagine how difficult it might be for a child to fully grasp the ending. Its an unfortunate end after a promising start that can hopefully be rectified in the next issue.
Contrarily, the backup feature by Caleb Goellner and Buster Moody is a delight from start to finish. Moody’s linework is darker and less refined than that of Thomas. As a result, the artwork has an aesthetic that marries the look from the television series with the original comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The script by Goellner strikes the right balance of sincerity and goofiness to endear itself to all readers, as the Turtles attempt to start up a garage band. Not only do the Turtles don their outfits from the infamous Coming Out of Their Shells Tour, but they manage to draw the ire of Shredder by simply annoying him with their loud rock music. Shredder is essentially the cranky old man who is mad at the neighborhood kids, and it is extremely satisfying.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Amazing Adventures #13 suffers from an uneven opening chapter to “The Drip.” However, the backup feature is a raucous, campy, and all-around satisfying adventure that emphasizes the “teenage” part of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Its a side that comic readers don’t get to see very often, and when it is exploited it is a refreshing experience.