Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Secret History of the Foot Clan / Author: Erik Burnham / Artist: Mateus Santolouco / Publisher : IDW / Release Date: June 25th
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have gone through many incarnations over the years; from a parody of ninja and samurai comic books, to a popular children’s TV show and then back to something more gritty, the tone and mood of these four martial artists and their allies has been changed and remixed many times. However, the charm of these characters is that the core idea is strange enough to survive all sorts of changes and still deliver a cracking action tale.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan is a darker take on the story, but fuses the light action adventure humour of the source material with a strong nod to Japanese mythology; this means we get nine-tailed foxes, strange curses reincarnation alongside the usual mutant rats and turtles. Erik Burnham has done a very good job of making the usually disposable villain of Shredder into a proper dark lord, not quite on the level of Darth Vader or Lord Voldemort, but certainly Secret History of the Foot Clan does much to redeem a bad guy who has long been a hapless comic foil rather than a horrifying threat.
Santolouco’s art is complicated and involved, and comes into its own when dealing with the more horrifying aspects of the piece; we get every drop of monstrous saliva and plenty of bloodspray here, and he has great eye for drawing the faces of maniacs. Our heroes are also dealt with well by the art; as four of the main characters are almost identical this is no mean feat, but we can certainly tell the difference between Raphael and Donatello (for example), and the writing captures the personalities of the brothers very well. Meanwhile, reporter April O Neil is strong, intelligent and as beautiful as she is brave, which is as it should be. My only complaint is that the IDW version of the vigilante Casey Jones is a bit of a wimp, but then you can’t have everything.
This is a strong incarnation of the Turtles franchise, and we can only hope that the forthcoming movie is as action-packed and intelligent as this.