Review: TMNT Ultimate Collection Vol. 2

IDW Publishing has been doing a great job with keeping us Turtle fans on the edge of our seats.  We’ve got so much coming out that any fan can be excited about.  Though one of the coolest things they’re doing is re-releasing the Mirage Comics as they were in large hardcover books known as the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimate Collection”.  Volume 1 was released only a few months ago and now we just got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Volume 2

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These books hold issues from the Mirage Comics, along with notes from Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird about how things went while creating these comics.  The directions they went, the choices that were made, and even some old artwork is shared are included in these books, making these books some of the best sources for your information on the original Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  In the last Volume, we got issues 1 through 7 of the Mirage Comics, as well is the Raphael one shot where Casey Jones is introduced.  Check out our review for that book here.

In Volume 2, we are looking at issues 8 through 11, as well as the Micro Series issues for Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo.  This is a very important time in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history as the turtles are living at April’s apartment in NYC, getting ready to enjoy Christmas, when the Shredder returns!  This action packed story gives insight to each of the characters as they go through a very tough time.  Though the turtle that faces the hardest lesson is Leonardo.  April witnesses just how bad things are going for the turtles, and writes in her journal about each of them.  Casey Jones joins the team, getting to meet the other turtles, Splinter and April.  This story has been retold many of times, in the original live action films and even the 4Kids series.  It remains one of the strongest story lines for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

For those fans who are not collectors who must own everything TMNT, they may be asking why buy these comics if they already have the originals or another set of reprints?  The answers lies in the annotations from Eastman and Laird.  While yes some of these stories have been told before, there are a lot of stories that us fans have never seen or heard before.  Stories of what was going on during the early days of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, how these books came to be, and just where each twist and turn goes for Eastman and Laird as the Turtles go from a fun comic book between two friends to a worldwide franchise that they are running.

Of course this wouldn’t be a proper review without going over the notes from Eastman and Laird.  This book starts off with the Michaelangelo one shot issue, where Kevin tells us about his Christmases growing up leading up to being inspired to do this comic.  Peter makes a short note about the name Chet, which can be seen through the early Mirage Comics.  Next, Eastman goes through the pages.  For me, I got a good laugh out of how much he mentions the amount of snow they put in this comic.  There’s a lot of great little mentions about each page as they even point out a few movies that inspired certain scenes.

Now we have issue 8, which once again has an intro from Eastman and Laird, both of which express that they were fans of Dave Sim and his Cerebus Comics.   Through the notes we learn how this comic was put together, with the layouts and how much work Dave did on the issue and just how much fun they had with the book.  Kevin’s quote in here is that this is his favorite memories from the early day.  I highly recommend going through these notes for a few good laughs and some great information.

Now onto one of my favorite Mirage Comics, The Donatello one shot.  With this issue, Eastman did not do his page-by-page talk about the issue, though this was Peter’s “baby” as Eastman said.  So Eastman and Laird both got a full page to share their thoughts on the issue, Peter even goes on about how he did layout one page for the issue.  He also shares an idea he once had that many fans would of loved.  Find out what that neat idea is, by checking out Peter’s notes.

Kevin’s notes for issue 9 are in such great detail, bringing you back into the day when Mirage was getting bigger.  Issue 9 is the first time where Eastman and Laird handed the art of a comic over to one of the other Mirage artists, which made this issue a mesh of a lot of hands from Mirage.  Michael, Jim, Ryan, Steve and more drew this comic and is the beginning of a mix that we all have gotten to know real well.  Peter has a few notes about this issue as well as shares a couple pin ups from the early days.

The Leonardo one shot has the introductions from both Eastman and Laird.  Peter expresses how this is his favorite layouts that Kevin has done.  We get more page-by-page notes, as Kevin lets us know how things went with putting this issue together.  You could tell in how he writes this up, that he had a lot of fun working on this book bringing the Foot back and just the build up of action.

The battle goes all the way through issue 10 of the TMNT comics as Shredder is back, fighting the turtles.  With all this action, of course Eastman and Laird have their words to add to this issue.  Though sadly, both of them are pointing out at how they were so busy at this time that the drift was starting to happen.  Peter pointed this out talking about Casey’s face being redrawn a few times.  Once again Kevin brings us through a page-by-page tour letting us know some more cool facts, where ideas came from and the inspiration behind the art work.

The last issue in Volume 2 is another one of my personal favorites.  The wrap up to this three part story, with a lot of character growth.  Though I must say it’s the hardest area of notes to read.  As both Eastman and Laird speak more about this being the end of their real team up and the last that we see them both fully working together.  Many fans often dream of them being back together, wishing that friendship was still just as strong now as it was then, though things change.  And sadly that was one of the things lost.  Going on reading each bit of notes of the page by page action, it just hits as a sad point, as such a great issue that brings the family together is such a landmark.  Its so worth the read for anyone interested in where things started to drift.

I cannot express how well these notes are and just how great it is to have it all published in a book for people to see and know how the books came together.  I personally cannot wait for Volume 3 to come out for us all to enjoy as well.  Thanks to Eastman and Laird for bringing us into their world of what it was like making these wonderful comic books!

You know the story!  You’ve seen what these comics became snd you’ve gone along for the ride.  Now learn more about the behind the scenes of TMNT, as well as having one of the coolest collections of the original Mirage Comics.  Check your local book stores to see if they carry “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Ultimate Collection”.

Have you been collecting these?  Did you read this yet?  What is your thoughts?  Please share your review, thoughts, comments and questions in the comment area below!   Please remember that all email addresses are kept private.

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Comments

As I said before in your review of the Ultimate Collection Vol. 1, this book is a blessing! It kept the same format; chronological order, annotations, and awesomeness! I must say though, I was not really drawn into the Cissue much. I do not really know who he is, but I wasnt really feeling the mid-evil times stuff. I thought the Michelangelo Micro-series was okay and Donatello's was pretty cool. On this volume, I would peek to the back pages to see whats going on and I got excited when I got a glimpse of the Shredder! I have the original Leonardo Micro-series issue and I hated the fact that I was left on the cliffhanger! So I was very excited to know that I might find the conclusion to that beautifully drawn brawl between Leo and the Foot! As I read past the Leo single issue, I was really surprised on how much of a weak @$$ Shredder was. This dude is a highly trained assassin and he gets out smarted by Casey Jones. Don't get me wrong, Casey is a bad @$$, but he didnt spend his whole life training to be a bad @$$ like Shredder. Just being nick picky right there lol. The book concludes with leaving us on a light note, but it is still a cliffhanger! What a horrible, but brilliant "marketing scheme" to make us buy Volume 3!
Reading these volumes gave me more of an appreciation for the 2003 animated series. They really tried their best to stick to the comics! Neat.
On a last note, having the First Comics Publication of Volume 3 of the TMNT collected series made me like the idea of having some of these TMNT stories in color. Mainly the Cerebus issue. I still love the black and white, it makes the stories that feature the Shredder and the Foot much more gritty!