"TMNT Mutanimals" #1 (of 4) - 9 out of 10 - IDW Publishing; Written by Paul Allor ("TMNT Utrom Empire"); Drawn by Andy Kuhn ("TMNT Ongoing"); Colors by Nick Filardi ("Powers"); Lettering by Bobby Curnow ("TMNT Ongoing"); In Stores 2/25/2015.
The creative team that brought you the hit mini-series "TMNT Utrom Empire" is back, and this time they are at the helm of the comical and very deadly Mutanimals. Like 'Utrom,' writer Paul Allor tells a story that is funny, action-packed, and slightly sad all wrapped up in Andy Kuhn's time-tested and fitting art.
The Mutanimals are a rogue group of militant mutants seeking to free mutants from the servitude of would-be mutant manipulators. Led by Old Hob -- a one-eyed feral cat mutant -- this team has captured Lindsey Baker -- an ex-Stockgen scientist and mutagen specialist -- to help them create more mutants to aid in their (self) righteous endeavors.
But when Baker is kidnapped and taken to a NULL Industries laboratory, the Mutanimals are quick to rescue their friend/hostage. Little do they know what they will find at the lab will spark an all-out war with the multinational consumer-goods juggernaut.
First and foremost it is important to note that this first issue of the four part mini-series does a great job of welcoming new readers without beating long-time fans over the head with explication. The inside cover hosts a brief paragraph that explains the cast and their motives. Using the inside cover page allows for maximum story telling in the pages and dually lets ongoing-readers jump right to the inks and colors.
Additionally, Allor's use of natural-flowing dialogue guides readers (both new to the TMNT franchise and veterans alike) into and through the issue without a single box of omniscient narration. Many writers attempt a script based solely on character speech, but end up falling into unnatural diatribes of exposition. This is not the case in "Mutanimals." From start to finish, the pages turn and flow from one speech bubble to the next.
The Mutanimals are the perfect group for telling a fun TMNT franchise story. Old Hob is the extremely paranoid leader who won't rest until every mutant is free, and he is not afraid to get his paws dirty in the process. At his beckon call is Slash, the snapping turtle, who is the muscle behind the team. Throw into the mix a skater-dude gecko in Mondo Gecko, the battle-hardened Herman the Hermit Crab, and Old Hob's first (and somewhat failed) attempt at creating a mutant, the less than simple Pigeon Pete, and you've got the makings of a Chuck Lorre-esque comic book (Four and A Half Mutants, coming to CBS this fall © Trent Hunsaker).
Luckily, "Mutanimals" #1 is more than just gecko wise cracks and deranged hyper focused mutant terrorism. Without spoiling the experience, readers can anticipate a heart wrenching series of panels in this issue that speaks more to the human condition than those only familiar with the TMNT animated series of the late 80s could ever imagine.
Kuhn, who had a long run on the ongoing TMNT series, draws the Mutanimals in a way that isn't as line-heavy as TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, but in a way that still feels less rigid than Mateus Santolouco's take on the franchise; Santolouco is the current "TMNT Ongoing" series artist. The style is perfect for the Mutanimals; I can't think of a better artist for the story.
The art is accented beautifully by Nick Filardi's coloring. Filardi is one of those artists who understands exactly how to change color palettes at exactly the right time to convey a change in mood and emotion in the story. For those familiar with his work on the "Powers" franchise, this issue has a very similar feel.
This first issue of four garners a 9 out of 10. It is almost a perfect first issue. The only reason it doesn't earn a 10 out of 10 is that as I finished reading, it didn't drive me to jump on Twitter immediately and tell the world how great it is. That said, I will now jump on Twitter and encourage everyone to pick up this comic book at their local comic shop!
Trent Hunsaker is a podcaster and popculturalist. Podcasting for Kevin Smith's SModcast Internet Radio and the A Part of Him Podcast Network, he also operates Death Ray Comics, sweats, and reads comics – but mostly just sweats.