Comic Review: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: TURTLES IN TIME #1

TMNT Turtles in Time
TMNT: TURTLES IN TIME #1/ Written by PAUL ALLOR/ Art by ROSS CAMPBELL/ Colors by BILL CRABTREE/ Letters by SHAWN LEE/ Published by IDW PUBLISHING

Ever want to see Krang ride a dinosaur? Then, my friend, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time #1 is the book you’ve been waiting for.

Even if the notion of sentient brains riding into action doesn’t tickle your fancy (really though, what’s wrong with you?) there’s plenty of entertainment here for anyone who has enjoyed any of the multiple incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Writer Paul Allor delivers a fast, fun, and funny TMNT tale free of baggage. He begins the story in media res, with the bros plunged into a prehistoric world fleeing a stampede of wild creatures. We’re told via intriguing editorial note that this all takes place after the as of yet unpublished TMNT Annual 2014. Mounted Utroms (Not Krang proper, but his brainy alien kin) appear by page two and the action continually ramps up from there, making Turtles in Time a page turner throughout.

Ross Campbell’s art is a gorgeous blend of cartoony, energetic, and expressive–all passed through a slightly offbeat sci-fi lens. The overall look accomplished is something close to the classic Turtles cartoon mixed with Prophet. Bill Crabtree’s bold color art adds to the energy.

The other worldliness of the unspecified ancient time period and the clunky space-faring tech of the Utroms provide interesting changes of scenery from the familiar TMNT landscape of sewers and cityscapes. The world the creators plop the turtles into is, for lack of a better word, just fun.

What makes a breezy action-adventure story like this work is having a solid foundation of characters. Allor’s script hits the ground running with complete confidence and doesn’t stop. He nails each turtle’s persona, and this forms the bedrock of the issue. If you haven’t read, watched, or otherwise thought of TMNT in 20 years, you could pick this up and fully grok it. Leo leads. Donatello makes with the smart. Mikey is the lolmaster. Raphael is brash. Allor sets these keystones in place seemingly effortlessly, allowing the story to breathe and let loose.

The doddering villainy of the Utroms propels the plot and is, yet again, super fun. These alien explorers are the perfect mix of threatening and incompetent. Their conflict with the turtles is immediate but kept light. No one’s getting killed in the PG proceedings, with zippy action replacing brooding high stakes. In the end, this all feels right for a TMNT comic book.

Oh yeah, and Raph teams up with a cute little dinosaur pal he names Pepperoni. Seriously, what more do you want?

Turtles in Time #1 is a surprisingly fresh and exciting romp. The character moments, dynamic art, and fast-moving plot make this a very satisfying single-issue read. If you’ve ever enjoyed the Ninja Turtles, it’s worth jumping into this funky time stream for a quick reintroduction. Go forth and say cowabunga.

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