Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Sound Off! TPB

2 out of 5

This stuff just really isn’t translating well to comics.

Writer Matthew K. Manning is a fair choice for the kids line of TMNT books, able to maintain a jaunty tone and a rolling pace, although his writing isn’t, by any means, layered – it’s strictly for its demographic.

Artist Chad Thomas is great – wonderfully energetic framing and designs; detailed but readable panels.

But this stuff still doesn’t translate well. By “stuff,” I mean the hyper-active, meme-y humor of Rise, and the lack of a “straight man” amongst the crew, requiring a sort of non-stop flow of witty rejoinders. Manning can ham it up acceptably, and there are some good jokes in here, but it’s all dialed up too far and tends to come across as forced, especially when a plot that centers around a villain who creates silence could do with some down beats, which the story doesn’t have. Further attempts at mimicking the series’ stylistic ADD – flashbacks, told in old film-y style – fall very flat. I like these villains (The Silent Gs – mutated fish dudes, all with names starting with, y’know, silent Gs), and the central conceit of their stealing noisy items – musical instruments, barking dogs – is funny, but again, there’s no breathing room, which clutters everything up, smooshing the conclusion and tying up of other plotlines down to two or three especially clunky pages.

Manning isn’t solely to blame, though. Thomas is great, but Rise doesn’t translate well for him, either, due to the same ‘dialed up’ nature that makes for everyone expressing in an extra punctuated style at all times. I think that can work well in animation, but Thomas likes to fill up his pages, which was awesome back in his Amazing Adventures days, when the stories needed the extra dressing up, but just adds to the clutter in Rise. And because a lot of the comedy comes through witty banter and not physical (or not a nice balance of the two), it doesn’t work to Chad’s strengths.

Colorist Heather Breckel comes out looking really good here, though; colors in this style could easily be overwhelming, but she keeps it tamped down with bright but controlled greens, browns and purples, using brighter colors to define panels and allow the eye to travel comfortably over the page.

The TPB collection includes Chad’s covers to the original issues, as well as George Caltsoudas’ really expressive alternate covers, which is appreciated.