Reviews: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage

TMNT Volume 2

Nothing accomplished. That's the best way to describe this series. I heard there off behind scene problems and series died earlier than planned, but you would think 13 issue would be enough to leave some sort of impact. Decompression storytelling be damned.

The first issue, for example, is a bunch of weird dreams that foreshadow future events. Spoiler alert, almost nothing comes out of them. Next two are about Turtles wondering what will they do with their lives now that all plot points were closed in Vol 1. I get what they were doing, but "City at War" had plenty of this sorta thinking and that thing was bloody 13 issues long. It's got tiresome, not helped by the fact that later issue doesn't build up on anything suggested here (e.x. Turtles were supposed to split up, but didn't).

Issues 4-5 are about Giant Turtle in the sewers. It pretty random, even for a book about 4 big turtles living in a sewer.

In #6-9 Turtles about Baxter's giant robot. This is some decent action if anything, especially since Baxter wasn't seen in years in Mirage Comics. As far as I know, only this story has any repercussions in later volumes.

Last four issues deal with Government agents capturing one of the Turtles. This story could really use Agen Bishop from 2003 cartoon. It's bland, rushed, introduced some really forgettable characters and doesn't really accomplishes anything (except for pissing off fans of Nobody, a semi-recurring superhero character)

Vol 1 was a fairly good read. Not perfect, definitely not for everyone, but to this day it moved Turtles into a direction no later adaptations would dare to go (advantage of the little indie comic over big corporation handling old IP). Volume 2 is mostly the same thing (if you liked the artwork you it's still here) but just feels empty and inconsequential. It will kill an hour or two if you want, but skipping it is an option as well.

TMNT Volume 1

I can recommend the first Volume of TMNT to the two groups.

First are people who already love Ninja Turtles and just want more of them. They don't need any recommendation, just reading order (read micro series before issue 9, "Tales of TMN" Vol 1 #1-7 after issue 11, crossover with "Usagi Yojimbo Vol 2 #1-3" anywhere you want. Period 22-47 was a "guest writers" era, almost everything is uncannon. I would recommend reading "Souls Winter" (31, 35, 56) and "River" trilogy 24-26. If you like them, check also 27, 28, 37, 43. Everything else is can be skipped, it's mostly terrible comedy. If you need more data, check "TMNT Entity" site.)

Second group are people who like comic books. As if, prefer well drawn comic over a cartoon animation. I'm saying this because 2003 TMNT cartoon adapted almost everything worth adapting (mostly in its first 2 seasons). Sure, the cartoon isn't without flaws, with some lame jokes, padding here and there (but it has WAY better Shredder and Baxter). But I feel it's much more accessible (for starters you can tell Turtles apart) and modern, making it better starting point then Mirage comics. And just to be clear: I'm not saying that 2003 cartoon is better than Mirage, far from it. Some later stories ("City at War" arc, guest stories I listed above) take Turtles into a much more mature direction that trumps most of 2003 cartoon. But those 'mature' stories work best if you have some kind of connection with the franchise and you're WILLING to take story about four giant ninjitsu turtles seriously. Which is why I would suggest starting with any of three cartoons or the first movie...

...unless you really like black & white art, which is arguably Mirage's strongest point, depending on your taste. If you're unsure yourself, just check one of the first issues. "Tales" #4 would be a good pick, standalone story, debut of the classic character, considered as one of best early issues.

The Return of Savanti

The Return of Savanti is... well, it's really just a filler episode, but it immediately catches your attention by being a two-parter. When I read the episode's title, my first thought was: Who's Savanti? That's right, when I first saw this episode, I had completely forgotten about Savanti Romero. But how can you blame me? Before this, Savanti was just a minor villain who appeared in one episode, and was quickly revealed to be a mere pawn used by Ultimate Drako. In "Time Travails", Savanti didn't leave much of an impression, so I wasn't particularly impressed that the episode's title was announcing his return. Now, after doing some "research", I have discovered that Savanti, Renet and Lord Simultanious are all characters from the original Mirage comics, and this episode is a direct adaptation of one of their stories from those. I think it's great that this series actually uses material from the comics (a rarity among TMNT adaptations), but since Savanti had previously been a relatively easily defeated foe (not to mention a pawn for Ultimate Drako), I found it jarring to suddenly see him presented as a Badass Evil Sorcerer who can control dinosaurs and threaten the entire timeline. It doesn't help that Savanti is a very one-note bad guy: Half of his dialogue is just rambling about how "The time sceptre will be mine!/The time sceptre is mine!" or laughing maniacally.

And another thing: Why did this episode need to be a two-parter? It's based on a very simple premise that could easily have been fit into one episode: Basically, it's about an old foe who seeks revenge/world domination and the turtles plus Renet go and stop him. The end. This story just barely manages to fill two episodes by having lots of Padding in the form of the turtles fighting dinosaurs and escaping a dinosaur stampede. In the end, the turtles and Renet end up stranded in the past for three months, but then travel back to the present just after they left, making this seem entirely meaningless.

The Return of Savanti isn't a glaringly bad episode, and it just may have been saved because of the awesomely epic final battle against Savanti. But again, it is a filler episode in disguise. As far as filler episodes go, it's actually pretty good, but it clearly doesn't think of itself as such.
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