A TV tie-in comic is usually hit or miss, so how does the funny book version of the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon stack up? Incredibly well. The comic dives right into this world, quickly introducing these new takes on the classic characters we know and love. Raphael is the leader, although he’s still arrogant and stubborn so it makes for an interesting combination. Leonardo is more sarcastic. Donatello and Michelangelo are more in line with what we’ve seen in the past, but there are some fun new quirks to their designs.
Where Rise of the TMNT #1 really excels is in the introduction of a new villain. This is what sets this book apart as an all-ages title. It’s definitely something that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. A hipster pet store owner looking for the next big fad ends up getting a dose of mutagen and turning into a rabbit mutant named…Man-Bun. It’s just as hilarious as it sounds.
The look of Man-Bun is equal parts goofy and annoying. He’s got a face you just want to punch with a sly smirk and ridiculous facial hair. Artist Chad Thomas heightens these features as the new villain pesters the Ninja Turtles, trying to lure them into a trap.
Man-Bun’s named by Michelangelo, which I hope is a tradition that continues on as that was the case in the previous TMNT cartoon. When we first learn his name, letterer Christa Miesner uses a different font, almost like a logo for the character.
Although the Ninja Turtles have been working together for some time, they’re not used to their new weapons just yet. They don’t have much in the way of a strategy either. This is the downside to putting Raph in charge. His tactics basically boil down to “punch anyone that’s not us.” I say this with love because he’s my favorite Ninja Turtle, but this doesn’t seem like a good role for him.
This chaotic strategy lends itself to some exciting action sequences. Thomas creates some exciting panels that mimic the look and feel of the cartoon while adding something more to it. Colorist Heather Breckel takes the artwork up a notch with a dynamic palette that highlights the new weapons as they pulse with strange energy. Each one mirrors the color of the corresponding Turtle’s bandanna which is a nice touch.
If you were on the fence about Rise of the TMNT, this comic serves as a great introduction. Fandom isn’t great about change and shuffling the characters around like this can be met with some opposition. Fortunately, writer Matthew K. Manning captures the essence of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while complementing the new cartoon well. Bottom line: This comic is just plain fun. Read it with your kids. They’ll enjoy it just as much as you.