Comic Review – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (DC Comics/IDW)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“THIS IS FOR MY PONY RACERS!!!” – Michelangelo

Holy childhood dream crossovers! Batman and the Ninja Turtles? As you can guess, my inner child could not say no to this issue. Which is also why this review may be coming out a little late… my DC digital comic app clunked out on me till 10 PM last night!

Right then… on with the review for Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Freddie Williams II)… As you can see, this is one of those very fun, very non-canon crossovers that the major publishers love to churn out every now and then (I still have my copy of Batman vs Predator!). Honestly, these can often be sub-par. A fun idea, but nothing more. Still, the Turtles comics tend to review well and Batman is sky high in popularity these days, so what could go wrong?

Before I take this further though… if anyone’s seen the theory online the Ninja Turtles are cannon with Daredevil… which means Daredevil and this version of Batman are now loosely canon too? I say loosely, because of course the Ninja Turtles and Bats are not exactly from the same world. It seems our reptiles have somehow managed to wind up in another world, in a city full of crime where lone vigilantes roam the night. They of course fit right in.

batsturtlesThe comic opens up with the Foot Clan, also trapped in Gotham running a series of break-ins to steal high end tech. And guess who’s there to protect Gotham? Four turtles of course! They deal with the Foot Clan and vanish into the night. Meanwhile Alfred is giving Batman jip about another crazy project he’s getting involved in. This version of Alfred seriously likes to back-chat Bruce. It seems Damian is elsewhere and Bats is concerned about these meta-human mutants he thinks are behind the thefts. Guess who their next target is? Wayne Enterprises.

Meanwhile, Killer Croc is scouting the sewers, where he runs into a lair full of half eaten pizza and tech. He tries to call out the inhabitants, but they only react when he goes and breaks Mikey’s prized game. Then he finds out four turtles are apparently more than a match for one crocodile (plus some nameless henchmen…).

Bats goes to protect Wayne Industries and runs into an unfamiliar villain. The issue ends with a fight brewing, but the Shredder has already got away.

This is very much a set-up issue, there’s plenty of foreshadowing and the plot I’m sure will be fairly simple. However, it is also a hell of a lot of fun. The turtles are badass, though the whole Killer Croc bit feels like it’s just there to give the Turtles someone to beat on. The art by Williams II looks amazing on the Turtles… if maybe a little off on Bats occasionally. Overall the issue looks great, I just found one or two of Batman’s panels looked a little off.

Final Verdict

This is a simple one: do you want to see Batman and the Ninja Turtles in the same book? Then go get it. It won’t win any awards I imagine, but it’s a very fun romp and your inner child will love it.

Final Score – 8 Half-Shells out of 10!

Comic Review – Godzilla: Cataclysm #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

This week was expensive. Urgh. So I decided to review the first issue of the new Godzilla: Cataclysm series, written by Cullen Bunn, art from Dave Wachter and letters by Chris Mowry, published by IDW. This being the King of the Monsters 60th anniversary, and what with a fairly successful film out this year from Legendary (we reviewed it a couple of months ago, relatively spoiler free, in this episode of the Weekly Rapture podcast), it seemed worthwhile picking up, especially as I already enjoy Bunn’s writing anyway. I’ve always been particularly interested in Godzilla and kaiju films in general. They manage to be big, exciting and (on the surface) dumb while often having an intelligent underlying theme. Unfortunately, the last two outings for Godzilla on the big screen have been somewhat lacking. The 1998 film is pretty terrible, completely missing anything that made the films great (though I seem to remember really liking it at the time. I was 10. Plus that Jamiroquai track was great. You know it was. Don’t lie), and this year’s was only great for about 10 minutes total, the rest was fairly average if not dull.

Cataclysm picks up nearly twenty years after the destruction of ‘the world that was’, where human civilisation has been all but extinguished by the dozens of kaiju appearing all over the world, both through collateral damage as a part of their own fighting, or through directly being targeted by these ferocious leviathans. Humanity was brought to  the brink in this age of monsters, but then almost as soon as they turned up they disappeared again. We are shown this in the form of an old man’s dream, remembering the events that led to the world being as it is now: crumbling overgrown cities, shanty towns full of the survivors and hunter-gatherer groups heading into the city ruins for supply runs. No one has seen a kaiju for decades, to the extent that there are those that no longer believe them. It is reflected that they have been allowed to become myth and legend. Gods and devils as part of a new mythology. But this old man (I don’t think he is given a name…) knows better, because he is one of the few still around that actually remembers it all happening, and he is convinced that the monsters will return. His grandson Arata isn’t convinced, and he heads out with his friend Shiori (and a bunch of nameless other characters destined to die) into the city to look for supplies for their village. Things go sideways pretty quickly, as you would expect, and by the end of the issue we see that Arata’s grandfather was right. For whatever reason, the kaiju are coming back. And the titular character is one of them.

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It is early days for the story yet, and I’d like to see where it is going to go besides awesome giant monster throw downs and the potential clean up of the rest of humanity through the ancient art of stomps and nuclear breath, but this is a strong first issue. The dream/nightmare/memory sequence at the start is a nice exposition device to show us how we got to the world now. Bunn’s script is solid, with none of the dialogue seeming wasted, though the lack of names for ancillary characters basically made them red shirts in my eyes – doomed from the start. The musings about where our myths and religions come from at the start was especially interesting. The art is excellent. The bleak, ruined cityscape near the village looks chilling, with the overgrown metropolis the group walks through (complete with giant footprint they walk straight over) adding to the impending doom. The insect creatures Wachter draws look terrifying, with their dripping mandibles and sharp legs, and they are around just long enough to make the impact of something even worse killing them seem all the more scary. The best piece though is the image above, from the old man’s flashback dream at the start of the issue, with Godzilla, Anguirus, Mothra and King Ghidorah brawling in the middle of a city, and military jets pointlessly trying to have any impact on the fight.

A good start to what I hope will be an interesting story, and the art is particularly strong. I may be biased because I like this brand of fiction, but it is a bleak read that manages to be fun at the same time. Check it out at your local comic book shop, or on your digital media doohicky, before the cataclysm happens, destroying all the shops and probably the infrastructure for digital comics too.

Score: 8 Kaiju out of 10