Infestation 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
As this is only a single issue I will only give it a slight review, this will be brief ( by my standards).
I think I grew up at the exact wrong time for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: too old for the original series, too young for the more radical reboots and so I hold the nefarious amphibians no real amount of nostalgia. Sure I like real turtles, ninjas are cool and the idea of them enacting feudal Japanese conflicts under modern day New York is interesting but for years i’ve always just considered them a children’s character. I mean their biology is sillily inaccurate, resembling our own more than that of an actual animal, especially when it comes to the diet; their ninjutsu skills are stylish but their swords are blunted, knocking opponents out rather than dismembering them and their stories are always closer to “Star Wars” than they are “The Hidden Fortress”. Now that I think about it I have to wonder; maybe it’s got nothing to do with time, maybe i’m just not a Turtle person?
Half an hour ago I would have thought so, but then I sat down to read this intriguingly titled issue which was both part of a prize I received at the NonCanonical show and part of an ongoing crossover that is connecting all of the IDW titles, though I had no idea what that was at the time. So I opened up the book, expecting boyish antics and exaggerated but impact less action scenes, in other words a stupid but skim able book, only to find that I was in fact the idiot. The first line of dialogue comes from the mouth of Donatello and to my surprise it wasn’t a pizza based pun, but a Lovecraft reference. The infestation in question is not one of vermin – like say turtles and rats in the sewers – nor is it some biological contagion, instead it is Cthullu and his army of betentacled beasties that infect the IDW universe; so you could say that the situation is actually quite serious.
The tale that follows, written by Melbourne’s own Tristan Jones, is a terrific one. Jones’ script takes a polarized approach to pacing that I enjoyed – dialogue laden during the opening pages and happily mute once the action opens up – and he uses it to lead us through a story not dissimilar to Lovecrafts own. The discovery of a dark and ancient tunnel, the horrific sights strewn along the path and the perverse desire of the protagonists to go ever and ever deeper despite these and other dangers is so typical of ole H.P.’s original work and the respect paid to his plotting as well as his most popular creation is appreciated. That Jones never allows his respect to become strict reverence is an even stronger boon to the book; these aren’t hopeless manor-borns that are being lead into the Earth’s underbelly but warriors who know a thing or two about being underground and it is their capability that refreshes the story. Though that is not to say that there isn’t any danger for them, in fact the book leaves off in quite a dark place and the excellent Mignola-esque art that Mark Torres employs in his depiction of the journey there ensures that you too feel the chills and spills as they occur.
Am I now all of a sudden a massive Turtles fan, one who will rush out and buy all their books, films, games and action figures? No, certainly not, but I am now a literal fanatic of writer Tristan Jones who has crafted a compelling story regardless of who the central characters are to you and I will be buying the second and final issue of this story, which says something given my stance on single issues. So if you’re a fan of Lovecraft, light horror or literary romps then give this title a shot whether you like the Turtles themselves or not.