Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Books you’re Missing – TMNT

While the post says Jim at the bottom, this was Lee's post that he had to e-mail to me as he was unable to post it tonight.

Occasionally, I like to talk about things other than myself. It’s hard to do because I know that y’all only really care about me. I realize that all you men see me as a role model and all you women see me as a big hunk of sexy manliness so I feel a certain amount of pressure to talk incessantly about myself. But, I feel that it is my duty to show my otherside… not the back side… the intellectual side. Which is why I want to talk about the TMNT!!!

Now that you’re done groaning, you should know this is not the TMNT that your kids grew up with. You see, at some point along the way, the Turtles publishers realized they needed to diversify the line beyond the kids market. To do this, they created another series called “Tales of the TMNT” which allowed high profile creators the freedom to use the Turtles concept as they wish. For example, Michael Zulli did a great three issue story arc that is both visually amazing and also very interesting.

Because of this creative freedom, I picked up “Tales of the TMNT Collected Books Vol. II “ which reprints issue #5 of the series and all four issues of "Tales of Leonardo: Blind Sight" with story and art by Jim Lawson. While Tales of TMNT focused on higher profile creators, it also gave lesser known creators a chance to play with the Turtles concept.

The premise of the story is deceptively simple. Leonardo, one of the Turtles, battles an opponent from his past who is blind. It turns out, Leonardo blinded the Villain but doesn’t remember doing it. In revenge, the Villain blinds Leonardo. The Villains revenge is made even sweeter as he tricks Leonardo into killing an innocent man. Leonardo now must come to terms with his killing of an innocent and being blind.

The most amazing thing about this trade is the art. Lawson does a complete issue in a negative image format. The pages are only black and white, no motion lines, and only outlines of characters. Since the story involves the character being blind, the story is told by his perceptions. The skill it takes to convey all the action and motion associated with fight sequence with only negative images is astounding. The story telling is very clear and at no time was there any doubt about what was happening or where the characters were. In addition to the negative images, there are several issues of standard comic book images. It’s still black and white but with shading, motion lines, and some straightforward panels. Jim Lawson has a nice visual style that is cartoony enough to maintain the feel of the TMNT yet detailed and structured enough to appeal to the long time comics reader. It reminded me of Roger Landridge’s art, simple in form but complex in design and layout.

Beyond the art, the story is quite good. At it’s core, this is a tale of redemption. Leonardo is a perfectionist who channels his anger into his fighting. And more than that, as he strives for perfection he channels his emotions into all his actions. He distances from his emotions so the he can’t see the things happening around him. Leonardo must come to grips with his actions regarding the death of an innocent person and with his blindness.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable read. It isn’t Watchmen by any means but it’s light years ahead of Civil War in terms of good, old fashion story telling. The trade is only $12 and I highly recommend it!

Preview pages can be seen at

1 comment:

  1. I thought the Zulli issues were in the first series run, not in Tales.