The first comics I ever remember buying came from a newsstand in Bloomington, IL called The Back Porch. It was a few blocks from my father's apartment, and when I would stay with him on the weekends, we'd walk to breakfast at a nearby diner. On the way back, we'd stop by the news stand, he'd pick up a copy of The Chicago Tribune and chat with the owner while I played a round on the Ms. Pac-Man machine they had in the back. Before we'd leave, my dad would let me get a comic or two off of the spinner rack by the door.
While I'm sure I had some comics before, the first ones I remember were issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, originally published by Archie. To go along with their new series, IDW has been pumping out collections of all of the older Ninja Turtles series, from quality black-and-white hardcover reprints of the originals, to monthly recolorings of those same issues, to even the TMNT Adventures line from my childhood.
And you know what amazes me? While the Ninja Turtles can get pretty weird at points, as long as you acknowledge who the audience was/is for the book you're reading, they're all pretty damn good. I'm generally terrified of revisiting things from my childhood, for fear that nostalgia has fitted me with Elton John-sized rose-colored glasses, but IDW's reprint of the first four issues of TMNT Adventures was quite a bit of fun.
One bit of advice for folks who didn't read the comics when they were younger (I know I don't remember reading any before issue 30): the stories in these early issues might still seem a bit familiar, which understandably confused me. This first volume contains adaptations of "Return of the Shredder" and "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles," both of which were episodes of the TV series that I probably wore the tape out of.
That's not to say that it's bad, on the contrary, they're still quite fun stories for fans of the Turtles, but I personally wish they would've started reprinting around the time that TMNT Adventures started having original stories.
One thing that I really appreciate in this collection is the paper quality. These issues were still printed on something resembling newsprint in the early '90s, and IDW tried their best to emulate that. This is one of the things I absolutely adore about the Jack Kirby omnibus lines from DC, because they used coloring techniques at the time that would look just wretched on glossy white paper.
With this reprint, IDW has found a paper stock that is both the right tone/texture and amazingly durable, bordering almost on a thin card stock. They didn't go back in and try to clean any of it up either, so you're going to see colors that are just a bit offset from the linework in some parts. I think it adds to the charm, but I could see readers having a problem with it.
Really, my only complaint about this collection is the price. For four issues, with no bonus material, IDW's charging $19.99. Like I said, the paper quality is excellent, and that's probably where a bit of the price goes, but I wasn't too keen on paying $5 an issue, to the point that I may be sitting out the next volume. At least they gave us more for our money in the early '90s, as these issues were almost 30 pages apiece.
Overall, though, if you dig the TMNT and have the cash, you should do yourself a favor and pick this up. It'll give you a wave of nostalgia and the stories are just good old fun. I'll be curious to see if these reprints make it as far as the Mighty Mutanimals series…
David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an “adult,” whatever that is.