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Comic Book Throwback Review – TMNT #2 Color Classics (IDW Publishing/Mirage Studios)

TMNT #2 Color Classics
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TMNT #2 Color Classics

Writer: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Artist: Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman
Colors: Tom Smith’s Scorpion Studios 
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Maturity Rating: Teen

The TMNT gang is back in action as we look back at the second-ever outing of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

 

Mousers Attack in TMNT #2 Color Classics

Another throwback review coming at you right now with TMNT #2. Now, this is a reprint and re-colorized version of the original TMNT #2 from IDW publishing. I obviously do not own the original issue—that would be cool. I did have a chance to pick up a decent copy of the first appearance of Casey Jones in the original Raphael micro-series for like $70, but let it pass me by! This is the first appearance of the fabled April O’Neil, Baxter Stockman, and the Mousers. I thought about doing issue #1, but figured that has been overdone, so let’s do TMNT #2 for some originality.

TMNT #2 Color Classics (IDW Publishing/Mirage Studios) cover by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman
TMNT #2 Color Classics (IDW Publishing/Mirage Studios) cover by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

Now, I am not sure when I first read the original first TMNT comic; it probably wasn’t until the late 2000s that I got to read the original black and white classic. I actually didn’t get to read much of the original Mirage stories until IDW started doing these color classic reprints in 2012. So, it was fun discovering this side of the Turtles I did not know much about. I have read these when I bought them, but going back through and re-reading TMNT #2, it was fun to rediscover some stuff I had forgotten about.

April O’Neil

TMNT #2 is the first appearance of April O’Neil. Not the plucky reporter in a yellow jumpsuit many of us know and love, but a smart computer programmer working for Baxter Stockman, who helped program the classic “Mousers” robots. Quick side note: there has to be an easier way to solve a mouse problem than to build and program these robots! But hey, they look cool! So April is not a newscaster, but a programmer. But looking back on this, two things stick out to me.

First, the way the original live-action movie basically used this issue’s scenes for the first meeting with the Turtles. They pulled a lot of that scene from this issue. Second, I love how IDW’s current TMNT comic kind of went back with this, making April Baxter Stockman’s assistant, but also a bit of an investigative reporter as well. It is a good combination of the original April and the cartoon April.

Now, the story by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman is pretty straight forward. The Turtles are obviously not hyped about Mousers roaming the sewers. Baxter is using the Mousers to rob banks and April finds out, so that sets everything in motion. For a guy as smart as Baxter, you would think he would have a better plan for killing April, instead of just dropping her in the sewer. But I guess if I got dropped in a sewer I would probably just want to die.

So, April, sewers, Turtles, Mousers—it all comes together. It is also fun to see Donatello come into his own as “he does machines”. Also, the other Turtles start to develop some of their own attitudes, slowly. Baxter also exclaims that he is stealing money and holding the city for ransom for—and I quote—”I’m really doing it because it’s fun”. Strong motivation, there, from our villain.

Half-Shell

TMNT #2 also features the classic artwork of Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. I love these original Turtle designs (except the tails that look like something else). It does take a bit of getting used to. It is definitely in that older style and you can feel the scratchy texture with the strong ink lines and bold shading. But, for me, it really grows on you and you can appreciate the style.

One thing I failed to realize in my first reading of TMNT #2 is all the great background detail that we get. The Turtles’ lair is full of little details. The bookshelves are full and there are great little pictures on the walls and such. The Mouser designs are fantastic as well. It is such a simple robot design, but that simplicity makes it a classic. They also do a ton of panel work in TMNT #2. Laird and Eastman get a lot of storytelling done in some smaller panel work. But they also do not slack on the details in those smaller panels.

I kind of go back and forth if I like the coloring or not in these books. Tom Smith’s Scorpion Studios gets credit for the coloring work in IDW’s reprints of TMNT #2. I like the darker texture green and dark brown for the shells. It keeps the grittiness of those black-and-white originals, but also adds a bit of “flavor” to the issue. It doesn’t work perfectly, as at times it is a bit too dark, but overall I like the coloring work.

Rat Attack

TMNT #2 is also a fun look back to see what Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman had in store for the Turtles. They obviously didn’t think the first issue would be such a hit, and they kind of hint at it in this issue. April says “Now that you’ve avenged your master and defeated the Shredder…what will you do? What purpose will inspire your lives now?” Which I am sure is what Eastman and Laird were thinking after doing all that in the first issue.

If you continue to read these original comics, it gets wild pretty quickly. Laird and Eastman start throwing everything at the Turtles pretty quickly. It is really fun to go back and read these stories, even now, to see how far the Turtles have evolved since their introduction. It is interesting to see what the movies and other incarnations have adapted, kept, and changed from the original characters. If you haven’t read these original issues, they are great comics. The art style does take a bit of getting used to; it is of its time period, but it grows on you after a while and I am quite fond of Eastman and Laird’s work. TMNT #2 gets 3.5 out of 5 turtle shells.


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About the author

Brent Jackson

Brent is happily married and an avid comic book consumer who loves nothing more than the smell of comics in the morning and diving through a long box of back issues. By day he is a nutritionist and has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years. He is probably not the coolest person you have ever met. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @brentjackson30

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