Review: “TMNT: The Secret History of The Foot Clan” #1 (Spoilers)

FOOT_cover_01_finalPublisher: IDW

Script: Mateus Santolouco and Erik Burnham

Art: Mateus Santolouco

Colors: João “Azeitona” Vieira

Recommended Audiences: People who like TMNT and Fox Ladies.





So I bought issue #17 of the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—not because of any love for the Neutrinos (whom I liked in their original incarnation, although not to any great degree) , or any confidence in the story, but because I loved Ben Bates’ work in Sonic the Hedgehog, and if I wasn’t going to get him there, this was an acceptable solution. In any case, the issue just confirmed the suspicion that no, I’m not interested in what Tom Waltz is doing with that book, and I’m not confident I ever will. Also, I simply don’t care all that much for this version of the characters.

Still, I bought issue #1 of this miniseries hoping that a fresh writer would make this ‘verse somewhat more palatable, and it almost works. Sure, this introduction is almost all exposition starring stock characters, but its something different, and very prettily drawn, and by the end of the book I was feeling somewhat optimistic about the whole thing…and then I saw the last page.

Oh, you have got to be kidding me.

To be fair, I was surprised by the twist. To be extra fair, I actually like the design quite a bit. But really? I’m midway through writing an essay about how the series’ conceptual incestuousness—where everything is directly related to everything else—misses the point of what made the TMNT work and holds the book down (look for that soon!) and then this happens, and suddenly my feelings feel extra-justified. And all it does is make me wonder: why? What’s the point? Why couldn’t the story have been about an actual magical Iron Oni, which is a perfectly cromulent concept? As is, the whole things feels unnecessarily contrived, and helps feed into the feeling that this turtle-verse is very small.  We’ll see what happens with it as the series progresses, but I’m not particularly looking forward to it.

If there’s one thing that’s consistently good throughout the issue, it’s Santolouco’s art. While I’m not wild about his Nick-inspired depictions of the Hamato Clan–particularly the overly-stylized masks–everything else looks great. Kitsune, in particular, is a great design. Also, props to João “Azeitona” Vieira, whose colors make the flashback scenes shine.

In the end, though, I’m not sure I can recommend the book just for the art.  Maybe for those consider that the more important thing when it comes to comics, but for anyone else?  Not really–like everything else they’ve published, it feels like a book for those who’ve already been converted rather than something that hopes to draw new fans.  It’s better than the main comic, but that’s not saying much.

Also, because it drives me nuts: Guys, the norm is that Japanese names are written in the “surname first, given name last” style when written in actual Japanese. When written in English though, the common order is the western one, which is why its Shigesato Itoi and Natsuo Kirino and Shinzō Abe and not Itoi Shigesato, etc. While it’s not impossible for Karai to have English-language business cards with her name in the Japanese style, it feels like a nod for the sake of a nod, rather than something with actual thought behind it. Also, it feels sloppy not to include an actual phone number.


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