Saturday, April 11, 2009

Aris Reviews Tales of the TMNT #56

I was fortunate enough to read a great comic today.

To be honest I do not normally read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For the most part I am a capes guy. By “capes” I mean superheroes. And by “superheroes” I mean the classic Marvel and DC line ups of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, JLA, Spidey, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Avengers, etc…but every so often along my 30+ years of reading and collecting I have ventured across comic genres.

In the case of Tales of the TMNT #56 I am glad I did.

First of all the cover is great. A powerful graphic image that manages to encapsulate what goes on in this comic. And then we get a forward introduction by Dan Berger and history lesson of the character Hun who makes his debut in the TMNT comic universe from the outstanding 4kids Entertainment animated series. It’s a great lead in to a wonderfully dramatic story.

“Hun” (title of the story) starts out with flashback and establishes very well the history between Hun and Casey Jones. In a few pages Tristan Jones (writer) gives you all you need to know about Hun. He is a vicious brute and bully. And leaves Casey near death.

Flash forward. Hun is released from prison into the hands of Scarface. And gets back to business taking the streets back and exacting brutal (there goes that word again, but that’s what it is!) vengeance on those that wrong him. Hun is written very well. Sadistic, he takes pleasure in the violence he commits. He knows he’s the alpha dog and lets every one else know it too.

At the same time we see Casey and April’s relationship as she uncovers the events in Casey’s past with Hun. This leads to some nice dramatic elements as Casey realizes he is heading into a confrontation with Hun. So he decides to confront him.

It doesn’t turn out too well. Casey is beaten. Hun is a hulkish unstoppable powerhouse. Hardcore is an understatement. Casey manages to escape. Unfortunately he leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for Hun to track him down to his family.

Which he does. It’s powerful stuff. You get some really nice dialogue and pacing. You get pulled in by the richness of it. I haven’t read TMNT since it first came out all those years ago, but I instantly knew these characters and their relationships. Casey and April are having conversations that reflect the reality of the world they live in and the problems a street vigilante may face. Casey Jones wants to keep his family safe.

Unfortunately Hun comes calling. Fortunately the Turtles are there to help out and you see how tough Hun actually is. But not before Casey gets brutalized again by Hun.

They escape, Casey Jones is hospitalized and April is at his side. A very nice ending.
Hun is still out there. And you know a dramatic confrontation is coming. A big one.

I never heard of Tristan Jones before but he really did impress me here.

The art was also powerful. I’ll get it out of the way, it’s black and white. But don’t let that distract you from the fact that Paul Harmon is a powerful story-teller. It’s raw and gritty. But fluid and dramatic. He does amazing work with expression and characters. Pulling the camera around, and although he uses many panels on some pages makes the layouts very easy to follow. When he gives you the action, it’s very dramatic and brutal…but not vulgar. Harmon establishes Hun as a visceral bestial force of nature, bigger and broader then every one else…unstoppable. But at the same time draw April and the child and other elements believably human. He also does a very nice job adding shades of grey in washes; it is used to great effect throughout the issue.

All in all this is a tremendous comic. Full of great characterization, drama and brutal action.

Highly recommended. You see it on the racks you should give it a shot.

9 out of 10


  1. Thanks for the kind words Mark. I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. It's certainly worth picking up.

  2. Thanks for the great write up Aris!