I love the Archer & Armstrong title from Valiant Universe. It’s a witty, funny, exciting, odd-couple adventure that explores the relationship of two diametrically opposed companions, who still somehow remain friends.
The origin story of Archer, though, as presented in Archer & Armstrong: Archer #0… I’m not so much a fan of.
I won’t go into any spoilers here in this review, but the origin of Archer de-mystifies him. While it pulls him closer into the heart of the Valiant Universe (aiding in upcoming crossovers), it simultaneously takes away some of the very unique aspects of the title. And while Archer & Armstrong has dipped into some dark places in the past, this issue is particularly dark and disturbing.
Doctor Who #10 Written by Andy Diggle and Eddie Robson
Art by Andy Kuhn and Charlie Kirchoff
Covers by Mark Buckingham and Charlie Kirchoff IDW Publishing
Release Date: June 19, 2013
Cover Price: $2.99
The latest issue of IDW’s Doctor Who enters the second part of a new story arc called Sky Jacks, which (plot wise) is about as mad as many of the episodes of the long-lived and much-loved television series. The current issues have now moved on from the Pond days of the Matt Smith Eleventh Doctor era, and now Clara Oswald, our new companion, is included in the IDW series.
The opening of this issue features a reunion between Clara and the Doctor – both have been sucked into a dimensional universe thingy of some kind through a white hole, that’s made their arrival more than timey wimey: for the Doctor, he’s been there three years (and now has a huge beard), and for Clara, it’s only been a few hours.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #13 Story by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Script by Tom Waltz
Art by Andy Kuhn
Colors by Ronda Pattison
Letters by Shawn Lee
Covers by Andy Kuhn, Kevin Eastman, and Valerio Schiti IDW Publishing
Release Date: August 22, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99
For those who have been following this latest incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the series is likely a revelation. When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license was sold to Nickelodeon, there was a lot of consternation and wringing of hands among comics fans that the new series would be another cash-in aimed at children. Of course there’s still pleasure in seeing the characters you have grown with once again, but writers Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz have created something much closer to the original version, with enough tweaks that the series feels fresh and exciting enough to surprise you.
A lot of this work shows up in the turtles themselves. Their quirks — Donatello as the science geek, Leonardo the rigid leader, Raphael the hothead, Michelangelo the carefree bro — aren’t played up as such, but actually inform how each sees the world. They bicker and argue, not just for the sake of it, but because they disagree over how to handle a situation. Never before have they felt so distinct from each other and so fully realized as characters. When, for example, the turtles are presented with their own uniquely-colored masks, there’s a satisfying justification for it that helps build the themes of the story, and the differentiation feels earned. Elements like these are what makes the series fresh and familiar, and is the difference between reinterpretation and cash-in. Alright, sorry for gushing, now let’s get on to issue 13.
I’m enjoying the heck out of IDW’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, but I didn’t pick up the TMNT Micro Series when the issues came out, which turns out to have been kind of a mistake. If you’re reading the main series at least half of the issues in this collection are of some import to the main series as they introduce elements that are fairly important. The other half are stories that haven’t tied in directly to the main series (yet), but are still fun.
There are four issues in this collection, each issue focusing on one of the main Turtles, and if I have to explain who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, you may have been asleep for the last quarter century and you probably have more important things to catch up on. Raphael goes out on patrol with Casey Jones and runs into a new mutant who may be part of a bigger threat. Michelangelo goes out on the town and spends New Year’s Eve at a party, until he gets caught up in a diamond heist. Donatello goes to a technology convention and makes a new friend who is kind of a jerk. And Leonardo goes out to kick some ass.
The weird part about this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles renaissance we’re going through is seeing that word ‘Teenage’ still attached to them. Sad, but true, in just a couple years the franchise will be hitting 30. It’s not like there have always been great reasons to stick around as a TMNT fan, either. Many of us who grew up with them (Is anyone reading these books who didn’t grow up with TMNT in someway?), to various degrees, look back to the cartoons and movies and video games and breakfast cereals and Coming Out of Our Shells tour and wince a little out of embarrassment. What I suspect the folks at IDW understand is that we see the Eastman and Laird books as the high water mark, and while we accept the ADD kid-friendly stuff that came afterwards it’s time to move forward.