Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics Vol. 1 / Color Classics Micro Series (IDW 2012) – Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

4 out of 5

Just focusing on the reprint / coloring aspect here, kids.  I know you’re eager for my issue-by-issue, panel-by-panel lavishing, but it turns out that the internet has already churned out some people who’ve done that better than I can, once again proving that not only am I not unique, but also inferior – so thanks for that- but also we’ll save my unoriginal and amateur reviews for when I reread the original Mirage run.  Beef and boof.

Tom Smith’s ‘Scorpion Studios’ apparently handled the coloring for these books.  I’m sure there was some Eastman oversight for character palettes (or perhaps the Mirage color versions were referenced), but on the whole, the main look of the series is gorgeous.  The heavy duo-tone shading E & L used in their landmark series would’ve been easy to screw up with colorization, either hiding the pencils or covering up the patchy inking style, but Scorpion Studios definitely seems to get it – each pencily scratch comes through intact, which is especially lovely to see on white paper for those murkier early issues and when Peter Laird’s detailing would get rather extensive.  The covers are also pretty remarkable (and the ‘color classics’ font is perfectly chosen to match the titles), although where there was some interpretation – such as the cover to #4 – it can seem a bit bright and flashy.  That being said, it takes about half of ‘volume 1’ for the colorists to just fully trust in the art – early issues add some blur effects to lighting and background blending which sticks out, and I guess in order to liven up a page where there are no backgrounds, juxtaposing backing colors are used, but it can sorta tarnish the mood.  But this gets reigned in and they settle for mottled grays and blues for nighttime backgrounds, letting the penciled foregrounds shine as they should.  Where the computer effects assist are those moments where the original art was almost too heavy, such as the Michelangelo micro one-shot.  The original is blanketed (womp womp) in snow, making a lot of the panels a bit of a chore to read in B&W, so here, the separation of the snow with the coloring effects makes things look jolly and clear once more.

Outside of the coloring, there are some nits – for as faithful as they were to the books (maintaining typos…), to then toss the IDW logo on the front cover in odd locations (the cover to #10 sticks out) seems strange, and I’m also unclear why they didn’t go for wraparound covers when they existed, like the Leo mini.  The absence of issue #8 is understandable (the Cerebus crossover, though he appears unmentioned in the background of issue 5 or 6), but its rather frustrating that this isn’t mentioned in an aside in issue 9 – yes, much of your audience has read the originals, but certainly not everyone, and since IDW chose to maintain the numbering by skipping to 9, I’m sure an explanation for the unawares would’ve been appreciated.  The numbering is another nit, but only now that they’ve switched to ‘volume 2’ with a new #1 (starting @ issue 12 from the original series).  It suggests that there’s going to be more gaps to come, but now that we’ve broken the numbers, I wish they’d (as some other review I read suggested) numbered the micros in sequence with the series to, again, give readers a determined reading order since there’s no mention of, say, the tie-in between Leo and issue #10.  Lastly, no fold-out in the Shredder showdown?  Again, understandable, but somewhat disappointing.

But if you promise to keep the quality this high and to keep the issues coming (and to maybe reprint, like, everything as the desire has been expressed), I’ll give you back the star I’ve taken away.  Not officially, because that violates sacred review oaths or something, but, y’know, in Turtle spirit.

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