I Wanna Be Literated #148

I Wanna Be Literated #148

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017
COLUMN

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1
by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a force that transcends generations. My version of the heroes in a half shell involves the Saturday morning cartoon on TV in the early 90s: what I consider to be the “right” content for turtles fan. I just couldn’t get enough of them, and considering how slim the pickings were for a kid growing up in the Caribbean, I did pretty well for myself. My consumption of the TV show involved rented VHS copies, the Archie Comics, and Spanish-dubbed episodes on TV, topped with a terribly unhealthy dose of action-figure collecting. I wanted to know everything about them and couldn’t get enough. And even though I’ve since outgrown them (punk rock and comics was a fruit ripe for the picking), the Ninja Turtles’ viral content has since firmly embedded itself into my DNA.

TMNT was originally envisioned as a funny take on the dark Frank Miller Daredevil comics from the 80s (strange considering the lighthearted form the turtles have taken over the years), and now IDW that has collected the original issues in these magnificent hardcover ultimate editions, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to learn how it all started. First off, these issues are not exactly easy to find, so the fact that they’re now so readily available is truly a treat. Second, the books are marvelously put together. In a hardcover oversized print, the ultimate collections contain the beautifully restored original stories of the turtles, along with commentary and notes from the creators. You don’t just get to experience the turtles in their raw birth, but Eastman and Laird take you through the process of making every issue, where they wanted to take the story, and how much fun they were having in the process.

Having been a fan of TMNT so long ago, it was surprising how many ideas the show borrowed from these grim and gritty comics (Shredder, Krang, April, Baxter Stockman and the Mousers all make an appearance at this early stage) and how quickly the story takes off. These issues are raw and storytelling-wise definitely borrow from Jack Kirby (oh, those splash panels!) and it’s surprising how much there is to hold onto as Eastman and Laird start to expand their universe.

Over the years the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have mutated into different but familiar forms, hopefully leaving some influence to new generations along the way. The Ultimate Collection is a well put together and important document for both fans and pop culture in general.

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