Hail The King

If your a hard core comic collector, a casual reader, someone who loves comic book movies Jack Kirby has influenced what you enjoy with or without you knowing it. Sunday 28th August would have been The Kings 99th birthday. Do you think when he drew his first comic people would still be talking about the importance of his work eighty years later?

I suppose we should address the elephant in the room. The injustice Kirby and his estate have suffered down the years at the hands of Marvels lawyers. But we shouldn’t still be talking about it. I don’t want to sound blasé but it is a problem from a different era. I’m not saying Kirby supporters should go silent and let the injustice rest, but there is a time and a place for it. Kirby Week should be about the man and his art. The management and personnel have changed so many times over the years fans should not harass them when it comes to Kirby. A lot of Marvel staffers are comic fans. Jack Kirby means as much to them as he does anyone else. It is a problem they probably never wanted to inherit from regime change to regime change. I don’t envy them at all. Next year would be the big 100. Can we celebrate the man and his art and not mention the other stuff?

Since Fantastic Four #1 hit the stands in 1961 Jack Kirby remains as relevant and popular as ever. No one in any form of media has enjoyed such longevity! With good reason too, you don’t get the nickname ‘King’ by being bang average. I went onto Twitter with the simple task ‘One word or one piece to capture Jack Kirby?’ I got some good responses that helped fuel my passion in this blog. Artist Ryan Cody (@ryancody) gave me ‘excitement.’ It’s a simple word, but hard to disagree with. From a personal point of view Kirby has never had a strong input on the characters I collect. But you look at his art and it brings a smile to your face. His are images that remind you of a simpler time in comics when it was all about telling one good story a month. Creators were working issues to issues putting their all into never knowing if there would be work the next week. Kirby was a pioneer and the innovations and techniques he used paved the way for longevity of superhero comics right up to their dominance on the big screen. Mike Zapcic of AMC’s Comic Book Men offered this image https://twitter.com/michaelzapcic/status/768800532660121600. Powerful stuff, instantly recognisable as Kirby! Artist David Golding (@DavidGoldingArt) put forward the word ‘genius.’ While Kirby is predominantly thought of as an artist his writing duties aren’t to be scoffed at. The post-apocalyptic Kamandi and the first Black Panther on-going. Huge sagas for both Marvel and DC in the shape of The Eternals and The New Gods respectively. Paul (@pb609plus1) gave me a more colourful word with ‘unfuckwithable.’ Again its hard to disagree with when you look at the evidence. When you think of Kirby instinctively you think Marvel Comics and the era that launched today’s popular characters. There was a time when Marvels loss was DCs gain. He gave them gold! Darkseid often thought of as the JLA’s main protagonist is a Kirby creation. I found out the other day that he tweaked Green Arrows origin to the one we know today. The same one which was the basis for the flashbacks in season 1 of Arrow. Going forward the DCEU is going to be packed full of Kirby creations. We have already had glimpses of Steppenwolf, Mother boxes and Boom tubes. With Justice League out next year his creations are going to play an important roll in DC movies going forward. Which brings me to my next point. Has anyone put my original characters from comics to the big screen? (Remember we are ignoring the fact he hasn’t been properly credited). Captain America, Hulk, Thor, The FF, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, most of the X-Men. Add to that which ever DC characters they use going forward and I think he has it in the bag. The size and the diversity of his career also put him head and shoulders above everyone else. Especially his modern contemporaries. Jack Kirby done 102 consecutive issues of Fantastic Four. A superstar artist these days does one story arc and needs a break! Superheroes, Westerns, Crime, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi. Kirby did it all and he did it with enthusiasm and to the highest standard.

So next year will mark what would be Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. Maybe Marvel and DC can give him more than a week. Why not go all out? One Hundred years deserves a Kirby Con. If no one else does it I’ll do it online. Contact me via Twitter @ianwells87 or email ianwell87@hotmail.com and we can put some ideas together.

Long Live The King

Hail The King

Convention Diary Part 4

London Film and Comic Convention 2016

I haven’t had a con experience this positive since my first ever con when I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I don’t have one negative comment and if you’ve read my previous ‘Convention Diaries’ you might find that hard to believe. Lets start with the venue, The Kensington Olympia. It is a great space and for me coming from Milton Keynes was very accessible by rail. I could get one train straight through without messing about with the underground. So I must sat back and put my music on. The space inside the venue was very well utilized. From what I read on Twitter the space and the layout was deemed better than last year. Last time I went to LFCC was in Earls Court and that was very cramped. There were positive vibes as soon as I got off the train with people milling about all excited for what the day ahead held. There was a guy dressed as Batman and every kid he passed wanted to high five him. Female cosplayers are definitely getting more daring and  I will say no more than that (I’m keeping it positive remember). I had an after 12pm entry ticket which was £16 pound. My first sight on entering the venue was the 89 Batmobile in all its glory. £16 well spent. I think that is what made this con so enjoyable. There was plenty of stuff going on so if you weren’t spending a fortune on merch it was still an experience. Like I said there was the 89 Batmobile, the Dumb and Dumber car, The Delorean. Also on the next level was a big Suicide Squad section with a Squad cardboard cut out you coud pose in front  of. On display were the majority of actual film worn costumes from the movie. The amount of guys taking pics of Harley Quinn’s costume from front and back was off the scale. I suppose its the closets we will ever get to Margot Robbie. Another good photo opportunity was a full sized Star Wars action figure style box. The good thing about this was they were only asking for donations upwards of £3 and all the money was for a good cause. A recent trend I’ve noticed in UK cons is the increasing number of talks and panels just like our American cousins. This is the biggest positive of all, as it will increase the profile of cons in the UK. Therefore increasing star pulling power, increased attendances and all round good fun.

Now onto the merch side of things. Funkos and comic based Legos continue their world take over. I was looking for a Netflix style Daredevil, I would go to one stall and not find it and then you would turn around to walk away and immediately see another pile of pops on another stall. I found one but thought it was a little overpriced. I’ve since seen one on eBay but I kind of enjoy the thrill of hunting one down at cons. Talking of the thrill of the hunt I plugged plenty of holes in my back issue gaps. Recently I started picking up lower number Daredevils. I got a #63 in VG condition for #12. I also got #293 which is an awesome cover of a gun toting DD standing over a slain Punisher. Then I picked up all four parts to the ‘Last Rites’ story arc. All of my Daredevils came from one seller and totalled £30. The guy on the stall also tried to tempt me with a #158 the first Frank Miller on Daredevil. He was asking £100. Fortunately I picked that book up at a con last year for £18! On the topic of expensive key issues The Comic Alchemist (www.thecomicalchemis.com) had a ton of key issues and variant covers. A lot of them were CGC. Out of my price range but an experience to look at. From another seller I scoured the 50pence bins and got some Classic X-Men. Not bagged and board but in relatively good condition. I’m sure I’m not the first genius to come up with this but picking up Classic X-Men is a cheap way of enjoying the Claremont/Byrne run. Now when I completed my Wolverine run a few years back it left a hole in my collecting plans at cons. Recently I done some research and came to the conclusion the Master of Kung Fu would be a fun series to hunt down. This was first con doing so it I wasn’t disappointed. I was able to pick up six issues. Five in the low 50’s and #87 for £19. Not boarded but bagged. Two of the issues were marked as NM and I haven’t read them yet but I would say the others could be between F and VG. Steven Englehart was a guest in the comic zone and had I been collecting Shang-Chi a little longer I would have been tempted to get an autograph. My last purchase was a nice little novelty item and if you are a fan of old Kenner and Hasbro toys I suggest going to http://www.theretrodraughstman.co.uk for a look. All my purchases are on my Instagram (ianwells87). All in all it was a very good day. I a, now considering rearranging my con schedule for next year to accommodate it. Congratulations to all associated with Showmasters for putting on an outstanding convention.

Convention Diary Part 4

Exciting Update

What few readers I have might have noticed my recent lack of productivity. It all comes with good reason though. Firstly I won’t lie was a lack of creative juices flowing in me. Which is something that the people at my second reason won’t want to hear so shhhh. So on to the good I mean great news. As of early July I will be writing a weekly blog for Richard and Shawn of Language of Bromance fame (www.languageofbromance.com). The guys put out a great podcast on all things nerdy so if your not listening check it out. Its available at all the usual podcast outlets or click the link above. They are in the process of revamping the website and were looking for bloggers. I put my name in the hat and so far we’ve clicked. I can’t thank the guys for the positive feed back they’ve given me so far. These are really going to be fun and exciting times.

PS so from here on out my #TBOCHT will be superseded by #LOBarmy

PPS New email not that I’ve ever been contacted by a reader ianwells87@hotmail.com

PPPS I need to come up with a sign off…

Exciting Update

No Local Con!

So last year on FCBD I wrote about how I no longer have a Local Comic Shop. Earlier this year I discovered I wouldn’t be having a local con for the foreseeable future either. If you read my Con Diary entry last year for Collectormania 23 you probably assumed I wouldn’t miss it. But of course I will. Who wouldn’t miss a con ten minutes from their front door and with free entry? I’ve come to accept that last years failings were probably down more to the venue owner than the Showmasters staff and the dealers. I like to think if another alternative venue became available in Milton Keynes both Showmasters and the dealers would be welcome to get the con on again.

Now if my memory serves me correctly the first Collectormania took place in 2002. The venue back then was inside the local shopping centre. It took place over a bank holiday weekend and yes I went all four days. I was in my element! I went a little berserk! Back in those days I was still operating on pocket money. It must’ve taken me months to save up for it. A small sacrifice. Now I won’t bore you with a list of every item I brought. A particular golden moment in my collecting career was a Wolverine TPB f the original mini series for £1! Ray Park was the biggest guest signing that year. He was fresh of the back of portraying Darth Maul (Remember him he was meant to be huge) and Toad (Remember him he was lame). Recently when I was tidying up some nerd stuff I discovered some photos I took. Yes back in the day when you still had photos developed. They were of The Arc of The Covenant and a Snowspeeder. I don’t know if they were replicas or actual props from the films but they made the con feel authentic. This is what San Diego must be like I was thinking.

Collectormania Milton Keynes popularity grew so quickly they started having two a year. The local newspaper was always bragging about how people would come from all over the globe to come to our little con. The guests grew in calibre. The year Elijah Wood was there was fucking manic. It was between LOTR films so he was a big deal. None of the guests ever took my fancy. My sister did meet Carrie Fisher. She was seated next to Billy Dee Williams  and neither of them looked silver screen ready back then. Episode 7 was nothing more than a pipedream. By the way Lando has to be in Episode 8! Over the years over two different venues I’ve seen dealers come and go. I’ve seen dealers go through changes in what they consider best selling items. I’ve even seen a dealer be there on the Friday and disappear by the Saturday. The annoying thing being I was mulling over buying something from them as well.

I once out nerded a guy at Collectormania. I live off of this story. I was purchasing a Sabertooth Bowen Designs bust when the guy takes down an Iron Fist #14 and asks if I want that too. I tell him no and then I hit him with my encyclopaedic knowledge. I ask him if he knew #14 was the penultimate issue of Iron Fist and it got cancelled after #15. Of course he was dumb founded. I payed for my bust and walked off… Okay I may have over sold that story.

When the venue was changed to The Stadium MK it made it feel bigger and better. ‘All New All Different’ if you will. It allowed  a little more space to spread out. Guest signings weren’t getting in the way of dealers. The best part was it stopped gormless none nerds getting in the way. Which was a big bug bear when the con took place in the middle of the local shopping centre. I was once pushed out the way by a member of Dave Prowse’s entourage. Now here was a guy in a movie 30 years ago under a helmet. I can assure you ninety percent of the attendees had no idea who he was. There was no need to move me out the way there was no clamour to get to him. Because it was now on the outskirts of down it made it more of an event. You would go there lose a couple of hours walking the concourse. Then grab some lunch and head back for some last minute purchases.

All in all down the years I’ve enjoyed Collectormania. I got all my Wolverine Bowen Designs bust there. Its also accountable for the bulk of my back issues.  Like I said earlier a local con with free entry was hard to dislike. It was love hate at times but I guess that’s all part of collecting. I’ll miss it in the long term. If I didn’t do any cons through out the year I always done Collectormania Milton Keyens. So come on Showmasters work at getting it back next year!

No Local Con!

The Ultimate Wolverine Reading List

So recently I was logging my recent comics on my Excel spreadsheet (as us nerds do) and it came to my attention that Wolverine has been dead for a year now. I was planning on writing a blog defending his character when he eventually returns but I think letting the comics speak for themselves is a better way. At the time of writing this there doesn’t seemed to be any immediate plans to bring him back. That being said I’ am really enjoying both Wolverine related titles on the shelves at the moment for different reasons. In ‘Old Man Logan’ I look forward to seeing what directions Lemire goes with his revenge/future prevention story line. Is it an ongoing or a maxi series? In my opinion if its ongoing it will eventually have to change its formula. If and when regular Logan does return keep Sorrentino on the book! Over in ‘All New Wolverine’ Tom Taylor is delivering non convoluted action, which massively appeals to me! Its very reminiscent of what made Wolverine popular in the early days of his ongoing series.

On to my list. I originally set out to make a list that was accessible to new readers, Then thought ‘fuck ’em’. So now I have a very diverse and in depth list of what I consider to be Wolverines best stories.

Needless to say spoilers…

14. Classic X-Men #10 Chris Claremont and John Bolton.

No I’m not selecting this for the reprint of  ‘Who Will Stop The Juggernaut’. I’m selecting this for the vignette by Claremont and Bolton. It is titled ‘Tag, sucker’ and is the first tease of a history between Wolverine and Sabertooth. Predating Wolverine #10 by two years it tells the story of Wolverine chasing a vicious killer through NYC. Although the killer is never fully seen its heavily implied he shares a connection with Wolverine. When people read it at the time it probably wasn’t seen as more than an enjoyable back up now however it is an important part in Wolverine and Sabertooth’s long running rivalry.

13. Wolverine Annual ’97 John Ostrander, Joe Edkin and Leonardo Manco

You can’t have a list like this and not include a legend like Ostrander. It’s just a simple done in one story. Manco’s sketchy style is perfect for the werewolf element and the story moves along at a good pace. The Cold War, a werewolf, a dame looking for Logan’s help and a vendetta. Ostrander ties all these plot devices together into an enjoyable read. Marvel bring back entertaining annuals please.

12. Uncanny X-Men #133 ‘Wolverine: Alone!’ Chris Claremont and John Byrne

The title of the issue says it all. When I re-read the issue I wasn’t sure if four pages of story and a kick ass cover were enough to merit a place on the list. But you have to take into account how this was a character defining moment. Widely considered as the first time Wolvie really cut loose and the fact it takes place during the amazing ‘Dark Phoenix Saga’ cement its place in comics history.

11. Uncanny X-Force #9 Rick Remender and Billy Tan

This issue gives a usually action packed series a breather. After the global and mutant threats across multiple time lines in the opening arcs this done in one story settles for more real world issue. WWII was character defining for both Wolverine and Magneto and it is used to good effect here. Magneto wants revenge on a Nazi from his POW camp. The fact he would even ask Wolverine to do it for him is ballsy but add into the mix that now Magneto knows of X-Force’s existence. Wolverine uses his samurai sword for the deed rather than just giving it the snikt! Making these a great character piece.

10. Debt of Death David Lapham and David Aja

Once you flip past Aja’s stylized cover there is no turning back from getting sucked into the action. Nick Fury, Japan, intelligence leaks we enter some familiar areas for Wolverine but Lapham still makes it feel fresh. Japanese WWII robots have been stolen and are now being used by the Yakuza. Enter Wolverine. If that sentence can’t sell a story I don’t know what will.

9. Wolverine #16 ‘Wolverine Forever’ (2011) Jason Aaron and Goran Sudzuka

Another interesting character piece coming off the back of a big story arc. Melita Garner is interviewing a wide range of people who know Wolverine trying to paint a picture of the man he is. At the same time Wolverine has gone feral after his latest ordeal and is hunting with a wolf pack. He comes across some backward folk who are doing wolf fights and kidnapping children. Anyway the beat of the story Melita asks Logan who he thinks he is. His reply being he considers himself still a work in progress. Maybe some one could tell me if Sudzuka done anymore at Marvel?

8. Uncanny X-Men #268 ‘Madripoor Knights’ Chris Claremont and Jim Lee

Maybe not the first but certainly one of the best times Wolverine’s past had been explored within the context of other heroes in the Marvel Universe. If you’ve never heard of this issues all you need to no is Wolvie and Cap fighting the Hand in Madripoor during WWII to save a young Natasha Romanov.  Its like the comic equivalent of a popcorn flick.

7. Wolverine #87 ‘Showdown in Lowtown!’ Larry Hama and Adam Kubert

This issue is just pure 90’s goodness. It has 3 double page spreads! To me it feels like Kubert is channeling Jim Lee, he’s not refined like Kubert today. A Team X flashback and me being a total Maverick geek make this issue just cry out to me. It must be said Larry Hama done a lot of work in shaping the modern Wolverine just in sheer weight of issues he done. In my opinion after he left the title was rather hit and miss till the early 2000’s.

6. Wolverine #119 – #122 ‘Not Dead Yet’ Warren Ellis and Leinil Francis Yu

Before I delve into this one lets take a moment to imagine if Ellis took the reigns of a major character for a two year plus stint! It would be sense shattering! The status quo would never be the same again! What Ellis does here is he keeps it simple. In a flashback McLeish a contract killer from Logan’s crosses him and is left for dead. In the present McLeish is seemingly alive and believes he knows how to kill Wolverine. What transpires is a test of both Wolverine’s powers and will. In some panels you can see Yu honing his skill and moving away from a house style of art.

5. X-Force: Sex and Violence #1 – #3 Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Gabriele Dell’Otto

I’ll be honest I never saw Wolverine and Domino as potential bed buddies before this mini series. Being only three issues helps the story settle straight into its stride. Dom and Wolvie get caught up between the Hand and the Assassins Guild, ‘Nuff Said. Dell’Otto’s art is so gorgeous! You could easily and still enjoyably follow the narrative of the story with just his art. The appearance at the end of Kyle and Yost’s X-Force make this a perfect coda to that series.

4. Wolverine #20 – #25 ‘Enemy of The State’ (2004) Mark Millar and John Romita jnr.

It was literally a toss of a coin to decide which of Millar’s blockbusters made the list. Given  ‘Old Man Logan’ recent press I went with this. Millar is at his best when he just breezes in and throws everything including the kitchen sink into a story. It probably got dragged out a bit too long with the ‘Agent of S.H.E.I.L.D’ arc but this arc is so enjoyable. Wolverine brain washed by the Hand killing capes, what’s not to love? Was just a privilege to see Romita drawing Daredevil again! Elektra is well used and new addition Gorgon is a great addition to the Marvel Universe.

3. Marvel Comics Presents #72 – #84 ‘Weapon X’ Barry Windsor Smith

I took some convincing to put this masterpiece in the list. Let me explain. It is solely for hard core Wolverine fans. It is still his definitive origin story, but in all honesty not a lot happens. It is essentially a scientific diary. But what a diary! Windsor Smith brings his A game pulling triple duty to tell his tale. The art is on another level with the detail and colour palette lifting the story. Wolverine’s past pre and post Weapon X has been retconned so much this story can often be over looked. Like it said though for me its definitive. Without it he’s not The Best There is…

2. Wolverine #1 – #4 1982 mini series Chris Claremont and Frank Miller

The series that cemented Wolverine as a solo superstar and firmly cemented him in Japan. From reading articles over the years it feels others at Marvel only saw him as the beserker the  hot headed team member. Claremont had faith and once he hit on his failed samurai idea everything else fell into place. It elevated the character to the one we all know today. Miller’s cinematic style works for the story. Weather its the elegance of the fights or the neon loneliness of Tokyo he nails it.

1. Wolverine #162 – #164 ‘The Hunted’ Frank Tieri and Sean Chen

Originally I was toying with the idea of having Tieri and Chen’s whole run as my number one, but I decided I had to be more cut throat so I settled on what I think is the standout arc. This arc takes the reader on a few different genre types to tell its tale. We have government conspiracy, Wolverine and Beast on a buddie road trip. Prison drama, a touch of horror and the return of Weapon X. People expected Mark Millar to do a blockbuster on Wolverine but for me this matches it in terms of cast and scope. Giving Sabertooth adamantium is one thing, restoring Weapon X is the kicker! Nick Fury pops his head in, Brent Jackson is the asshole we love to hate, (how has he not been on AOS)? Shiverman and Mauvais are genius new additions. The latter of which dines on Wolverine’s eye! The arc also features Wolverine alum Windsor Smith doing some Weapon X flashback art and Mark Texeira filling in on an entire issue. Lastly ‘The Hunted’ is the first and last comic to use Peepers in a slightly credible way!

So those are my picks and this being the internet I guess I will have some feedback. Positive or negative I welcome it. Got you own list or agree with mine? Tweet me @IanWells87 or email me ianwells87@yahoo.co.uk If I get some interesting responses maybe I can do a follow up piece for all the stories I forgot!

The Ultimate Wolverine Reading List

Convention Diary Part 3

London Comic Mart. So you might have deduced from my previous diary entries that I’m not a con guy. But they are such a part of the industry I keep giving them a bash. But LCM is the right con for me. I would say its 90% long boxes! You can not beat the smell of old comics! Its not just the long box dominance that makes this con great. Firstly its only a five minute walk from Euston Station so you don’t need to mess about on The Underground. Also it is free entry. There is a £5 early entry fee. But it is advised on the website not all sellers will be set up the earlier you attend. I never got the appeal of early entry. At this or any con. Yeah you might walk straight in and fall in love with a bust or statue. Its yours before anyone else lays eyes on it. Chances that someone is looking for the exact same back issues as you are slim. There is not a huge amount of space assigned to the con. From my review of Collectormania you know I’m a stickler for foot traffic getting bottle necked. I would say it was slightly smaller than my previous visit but the space given was utilized very well. I was happy from the moment I walked in. There seemed a buzz about the place too. There were dealers buying from each other and talking grades. A discussion about CGC over doing things on another stall. There were a lot of the old 70’s Marvel magazine sized issues. One dealer had a whole issue worth of George Tuska originals. Another dealer was making a killing on loose heroclix. I myself brought a DOFP Wolverine. I made a quick circuit before delving into the action. I made Incognito Comics my first stop. Back issues at 50% off marked prices So picking up Daredevil #161 priced at £18 was a no brainer. From Kent Comics I picked up four more Daredevil issues for a total of £10.50. From another dealer who’s name I didn’t catch I picked up the four remaining issues of Kitty Pryde/Wolverine which I have been looking for for ages and 25% off. I got my hands on Elektra Assassin #1 for £3.50. I know its not a highly sought after book but it is in great condition for the price I paid. Another prized item was A TMNT: Raphael micro series from the colour classics range. Retailer Incentive cover only £10. So all in all a good day. I noticed that graphic novels seemed to be down on last time. I mean most stalls had them but just not as many all round as before. Plenty of stuff on offer. Ranging from more current back issues, variant covers and whole sets for sale. If I didn’t all ready have a lot of the issues someone had the first 40-45 issues of Classic X-Men for £65. (I do have a whole blog post planned for Classic X-Men, so I could have put the expenses down as research). The con takes place at The Royal National Hotel London. Usually the first Sunday of every month. However next year I think they are changing to the last Sunday of every month. (www.londoncomicmart.co.uk). So if like me you like long box conventions and aren’t expecting a side show of cosplay, gaming and other miscellaneous shit give it a visit. I think I’m done for cons this year. Going to try and fit in a visit to Ace Comics in Colchester for some X-Mas shopping. hopefully next year I’ll be attending LSCC and really hope Collectormania MK learns from this years mistakes.

Convention Diary Part 3

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) A 50 Issue Retrospective

When I read this comic I am the fifth turtle. Anyone remember that episode? I can smell NYC and the pizza. I can hear the weapons clashing. But it wasn’t plan sailing. It began with the saga of the overseas licensing. I had to buy an #1 variant on eBay for £10. Luckily for me I got the Raphael cover. #2 and #3 were also eBay purchases but by #4 the UK got its act together any boy was it worth the wait.

The Turtles have and I guess will always have a special place in my heart. I was the biggest fan of the cartoon, I had all the toys, the movie then blow my tiny mind. Being an internetless kid in 90’s UK I had know idea of their comic book origins (sorry). So this series is like my little baby. I always read it first when I get my weekly titles and it makes me feel warm inside. The blend of the best from the comics, cartoons and movies keeps a thirty year old franchise fresh and it keeps delivering month after month.

Going into #1 I did’t really know what to expect having never read a TMNT comic before. Like I said the franchise is thirty years old. Were we going to get a first issue that went straight into the action? With everyone knowing what the Turtles are all about. Or were we going to get a bad origin rehash? What we got was simple but brilliant beginning to an origin story. There was plenty of fan service yet it stayed accessible to new readers. The first four issues set up the charatcers personalities. (Splinter, Turltes, Hob, Casey and April). #2 gave us some TMNT gold straight off the bat with Raph and Casey teaming up. The ‘Chowabunga’ t-shirt was a nice touch. Having Old Hob as the series first villain proved they didn’t need to go straight to Shredder. He has been a great addition through out and linking him into the Turtles origin was again a simple yet effective idea. Its because of him Raph is seperated from the others. So makes things more personal. On a negative note they have done away ith the DD tie-in. A highlight of the lab breakout was seeing two foot soilders being out smarted by a rat carrying a sack of turtles was an amusing visual. Another great part of the series is the art of Dan Duncan. Ninja Turtles should be cartoony to a degree but the tone of the story deserves a touch of darkness. Duncan along with Ronda Pattison have a perfect blend for this. #5 was just beautiful. In the first four issues the three Turtles wore red bandanas as they searched for Raphael. As red is his favourite colour. In this pre Christmas issue we get Splinter sneeking around the city before returning with colour bandanas for the others. Genius! Touching! Oh this issue also laid the early groud work for a possible reincarnation story line. What?!

#6-8 was laying a lot of plot threads whilst fulfilling fan service. There were developments with The Foot and the Savant. “War is coming”. Casey and April meeting and interacting. Baxter Stockman taking a villainous turn with creating his Mousers. #7 gave us looks at Neutrino and Krang. So as well as ninjas and mutants we were now getting hints of other dimensions and aliens. Krang has been handled very well in the series. Not a jokey Saturday moring cartoon villain. #8 apart from carrying my favourite cover it also contains another TMNT staple. April fainting upon meeting them for the first time.

#9 Final page reveal of Shredder! At last! #10 adds more weight to the reincartion story. Shredder attributes things Splinter says/does to Hamato Yoshi. When Shredder removes his mask Splinter recognises him as Oroku Saki. After 10 issues it would be a good time to point out when I read this the voices are the voices from the first movie.

#11-12 Gave us the throw down the movies never could do justice. Splinter vs Shredder! One thing I’ve enjoyed from this series is Splinter being youngish so he can still kick ass! Much like the Splinter in the new film, who was awesome.

#13-14 A new addition to the art team and another great choice. Andy Khun. Another great Splinter moment and a very brief glimpse of the Technodrome. I always thought this was more suited to the cartoon. But the way Eastman and Waltz are tearing it up on the series I had faith in it being given a fresh take.

#15-16 Enter Slash. A fan favourite I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with! Here again they took an old character and mad him fresh. The 24 panel fight scene between Turtles and Slash is just beautiful. Mikey maybe the youngest but he is also the most emtional. This is evident in the story with his brotherly love for Slash despite his violent tendancies. Also the last panel of the story is Leo paying tribute to his fallen brother which I felt was over looked compared to Mikeys reaction.

#17-20 Krang War. This isn’t my prefered type of TMNT story. Again it is something I associate more with the cartoons, but I understand there is a place for it.  Some classic teamwork moments and another TMNT staple, Mikey falling for a princess. IDW continue to match great artists to this series. Ben Bates style matches up to this story arc so well.

#21 We get a nice little treat in the shape of Eastman pulling writing and pencil duties on this stand alone issue. The kind of story telling IDW have set up in this series is something I would love to see Marvel do. Shorter story lines, everything is so convoluted at The House of Ideas lately.

So before I get into the next story arc I want to take a detour to one of the mini series that has run along side the on going since it started. The Secret History of The Foot Clan by Erik Burnham and Mateus Santolouco. Immediately my first thought was ‘oh no a different creative team on an important story. How wrong was I? Right from the off you could tell this series would be huge. In a nutshell it explains the mythos of The Foot (obviously). How they went from noble tribe to band of outlaws. It shows a love rivalry between Yoshi and Saki. How Saki became evil through the spirit of Tatsuo Takeshi and his relationship with Kitsune. The real curveball in the story arc is Kitsune striking a deal with a Utrom. The important parts of the story are in the flashbacks. In the present time there is a Professor named Miller. A Frank Miller homage no doubt. He has dedicated his life to the book of the Foot Clan so obviously the Turltes and Shredder are seeking him out. In #2 there is a car chase sequence which is just pure joy. Mikey reads Japanese without realising. Adding weight to the re-incarnation theory. All in all a great series which would make a absolutely brilliant TMNT movie and it leads nicely into City Fall. Which would be the sequal.

#22-28 City Fall The greatest TMNT movie never made! Santolouco sticks around for this story arc and no complaints from me. I love his little detailing on each bandana. Now I have read the first TMNT annual but I have to admit I have no idea whats going on with the Savate. I think their appearances have been few and far between. Starts with a bang Raph and Casey are ambushed by Foot, Raph escapes but Shredder now has bait in the form of Casey. The obligatory Raph and Leo arguing over how to do things. I’ve enjoyed the development of Angel over the series and here she gets some play. Knowing the Turtles are loyal and all about friendship Shredder SPOILER stabs Casey a fight ensues. So BOOM! City Fall doesn’t hold back at the end of the issue Casey is dying and Leo is kidnapped. Next issue is your basic get Casey to hospital and Leo being brainwashed. Oh and Hob has teamed with a still living Slash. In a epic story arc like this you know the action is coming so its the little character moments that are more enjoyable. You have the Casey, April and Angel human triangle. Mikey treating Slash like a brother, Raphs distrust for Hob with Splinters reluctance to accept his help. Leos brainwashing is completed by the addition of a black bandana, cause his evil now. Raph and Leo fight breaking internet forums everywhere over the rightful winner. Nice geek moment in #27 at Shredders gangland meeting we have Heisenberg, Mohawk Storm and The Warriors in attendance. Now I don’t know to this day how it happened but I’m missing #28! I only remembered when I was doing my research for this blog. eBay here I come.

#29-32 Northampton The calm after the storm. But with this series the next storm isn’t far away. I like the intro showing all the locations which were pivotal in City Fall all now deserted. Would the Turtles really sleep with their bandanas off? Ross Campbell comes on board for this arc and IDW’s talent scouts strike again. We get some development between Raph and Aloplex. Now I don’t think the writers would go for a full on physical relationship further down the line. But if  the Turtles in all the formats over the years have taught us anything its that family and friendship can come in any form. New antagonist in Koya, who is a  great visual. This story arc took me back to my favourite part of the original movie. At the farmhouse Casey and April are talking when the Turtles approach them with the killer line “It’s time to go back.” and that baseline drops in and the music starts. Bliss!

#33-35 Interestingly this series tackled a real world problem, well kind of. Aprils Dad is terminally ill and the mutagen acts as an instant cure. Maybe some issues down the line there will be draw backs. The question of weather it should be shared was raised by April rather than just saving it for her Dad but it hasn’t been touched on since. First appearance of Metalhead given the name by Angel who is also set up with a new story arc teaming with tech guy Harold, all be it reluctantly. Wearing a tech suit and going by the name Nobody. When you think about it, its such a simple codename whys it never been in comics before?

#36-37 Enter The Rat King. I loved the way he was portrayed here. Really hope to see more of him in the new direction after #50. Coincidently the same week this issue came out I caught an episode of the new TMNT cartoon which also featured Rat King. Two different takes but both enjoyable none the less. There is something insanely cool about Shredder and Krang meeting on a yacht in the Atlantic Ocean. If done on film it would have seemed out of place. The issue just spoke to me for some reason. This is why comics are cool I suppose. Another new antagonist in Bludgeon.

#38-40 These issues are really setting up the next storm. Shredder is now at war with Krang and the Turtles. Angel continues to clear the streets as Nobody. Eventually teaming with Aloplex. You think these two and Raph and Casey will double date? Another geek moment, Harold’s radio call sign is ‘Kirbyfan’. Slash can now talk and Hob is building his own mutant army including Mondo Gecko and Herman. A lobster with a wheelie bin shell? Only in comics.

#41-44 Attack on Technodrome. Like I said I had faith in Eastman and Waltz turning the Technodrome into something more than a toy line mode of transport. firstly they ditched the giant eye ball. Having the TD act as a device to terraform Earth into ‘New Utrominon is what makes the story and the idea of the TD work better. Talking of toy lines the Turtles and the Might Mutanimals teaming up is every kids dream. Did anyone know the spoilt kid that had every character? I had the 4 Turtles, Splinter, Shredder and for some reason Usagi. I didn’t even know he was another comic character till much later. His toy looked badass though. Be really cool if they could work him into the IDW series for an appearance. The main talking point of this story arc comes in #44 so SPOILERS if you haven’t read it yet….Bebop and Rocksteady kill Donatello! The imagery of the crow bar coming down with the KRAK is not lost on any body. Its the modern day equivalent of the Sai going through Elektra. If you didn’t well up by the time you got to the last page your not human. I liked Angel being close to the trauma shows the characters growth and addition to the extended family. I didn’t see Stockman saving Shredder coming but hopefully this is a good direction to take things.

#45-49 Who didn’t see this coming? Be honest? When Metalhead was first introduced I thought he would go sentient. But after #44 this seemed obvious. I suppose it is their way of doing Metalhead and the infamous ‘Mecha Donnie’ story line from way back when in one hit. Donnie is going to be back after #50 right? For #45 I got the amazing Eastman Casey Jones cover. Professor Miller sets April onto a group called The Pantheon. This is being told in another mini which I will pick up in trade and I hear it leads into #51. Miller is killed, stabbed through his car seat alas Elektra saving Ben Urich in his cinema seat. These issues are mainly serving as set up for the big #50. Hob makes a move, breaking Hun out of Police custody, Mousers are set to kill Splinter and there is friction between Karai and Stockman of course. And Leatherhead!

#50 Firstly as a Marvel fan and someone that has kept one eye on DC’s New52 it does feel a little weird holding a comic that has reached #50. It’s a good weird though. The quality of the book is beautiful. I don’t what the issue retailed at in the US or elsewhere in the UK, but I was more than ha[[y to lay down £5.94 to my LCS. The story delivers in every possible way. Tying up everything that came before and setting the characters off in new directions. Remember years back when Daniel Way used a whole story arc for Wolverine and Cap fighting. Well take note Daniel this is how you do an epic fight in one issue! Lots of questions coming out the other end. Why would Leatherhead help save Donnie? Who saw the romantic connection between Koya and Bludgeon? What’s going to happen with Kitsune/Aloplex? At first I didn’t want to spoil the issue that’s why I have waited for #51 to come out before posting. When Shredder took the fight to the roof the child in me cheered for one last movie homage. If the first movie had censorship trouble with Shredders death they would have struggled even more with his demise in this issue. Is Splinter and the Turtles taking over The Foot a clever story direction or even further Daredevil homages? As a romantic I’m just going to say it’s a little of both. Just a shame Mikey doesn’t share my romanticism. The young Saki and Yoshi bit towards the end was teary. The last page was possibly the most intriguing though. It appears we may be getting some answers to the re-incarnation vs science theory soon.

It has been a joy reading the first 50 issues of TMNT. Having read #51 as well it looks like there is know slowing up. Again IDW hit a home run with the artist choice. Ken Garing’s renderings of the Turtles are right up there. I hope everyone that has read the series so far has enjoyed it as much as me. Maybe this blog will attract new readers to the title. I have a friend who has the first two trades. I’m continuously on at him to keep going with it. I suppose now the best thing to do is say thank you to everyone involved on the series.

Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Dan Duncan, Ronda Pattison, Andy Kuhn, Ben Bates, Mateus Santolouco, Ross Campbell, Cory Smith, Erik Burnham, Bobby Curnow, Shawn Lee. Everyone that worked on all the tie-ins, Everyone who makes the credits page, Everyone who doesn’t make the credits page.

Turtle Power!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) A 50 Issue Retrospective