By: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (story), Ben Bates (art), Ronda Pattison (colors)
The Story: This may be a stress dream from eating too much pizza and watching A New Hope.
The Review: People tend to fall in either the Star Wars camp or the Star Trek tribe, and I admit that if I had to choose, I’d probably go for the latter. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the appeal of both, though. While Trek stories play with questions of philosophy and politics in an era where all primal needs are satisfied, Star Wars is the big, epic fairy tale in sci-fi clothing, chock full of princesses, wise men, evil lords, and fabled warriors.
Given Star Wars’ timeless, almost elementary qualities, it’s no surprise you can see its influences in so many stories, particularly comics. Half the cosmic titles out there try to capture the furious, grand-scale action of the SW films, and Saga follows in the same fable-gone-sci-fi tradition. But it’s here in TMNT that you get the most direct tribute to the (original) Lucas trilogy. Eastman-Waltz never directly reference the old movies, but they don’t have to; the fanship can be seen in nearly every part of this issue’s plot.
Consider this: the Turtles get sideswiped from their own mission and are dragged into a conflict far out of their intended bounds—yet it still, unbeknownst to them, has a major, even destined connection to them (see Secret History of the Foot Clan #2). You have a princess whose world is in peril, an empire trying to make a lesson out of some scrappy resistance fighters…even the Technodrome is basically a low-rent Death Star.
This kind of blatant imitation has two edges, though. While it promises plenty of fun, it also feels very, very tired and overdone. Everywhere you look in this issue, there’s something that looks a bit like a knock-off of something else. Princess Trib is basically Princess Zelda with bangs (with a little bit of Princess Leia’s take-charge class), and Honeycutt the Fugitoid comes across as a less high-strung, more nervous C-3PO.
Still, there’s a lot of entertainment value to be had in placing the Turtles in the middle of all this. Mikey instantly falls for Princess Trib,* which is bound to be a roller-coaster ride of a romance, but meanwhile ensures his brothers will end up more committed to the Neutrino conflict than they would like. And while their ninja skills would seem out of place in a war of teleporters, tanks, and space lasers, hey—you did have Jedi swashbuckling their way across the galaxy in Star Wars, right?
Back at home, April and Casey do their part to help out, though separated from the Turtles by whole dimensions. In a magnificent display of BSing, April discovers much of the information she needs to locate the Turtles from fellow researcher Lindsey, in turn informing Karai, which means that all our major players are set to run into each other within the arc. That’s the moment we’re all waiting for, folks: the Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, and Krang, all in the same room.
Bates not only embraces the cartoony nature of the series, he runs it into overdrive, delivering quite possibly the most energetic issue of the title’s entire run. Bates’ Turtles are agile and sleek, making it crystal clear that despite their species, there’s nothing slow nor stolid about them. You also have some terrific anime influences propping up the gentle humor of the issue, like Lindsey’s rumpled hairs after the shock of April’s “revelations,” the ga-ga expressions on Mikey’s face as he gushes over Princess Trib, or the wispy tears streaming from Trib’s eyes as she and Mikey freefall from her captors’ ship. Pattison does her part by giving the characters some nice tone and dimension, so the series doesn’t slide into kiddie territory completely.
Conclusion: Despite ripping off a bit too much from popular sci-fi culture, the issue maintains an emphasis on fun with just enough thoughtfulness to keep it grounded.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * Perhaps a reference to his cartoon relationship with Kala, who now, like her fellow soldiers Zak and Dask, seems too focused on her duties to entertain an attraction to a different species.
– Actually, I am a little sad that Dask, Zak, and Kala are more intent on protecting the royal family and less interested in drag-racing with flying hotrods.