4 out of 5
While this was essentially a fill-in issue – a subbed scripter, Philip Nutman; a framing device around flashbacks while we pause between storylines -and it’s rather rough around the edges, I think there’s value and effort here: there are some minor retcons to set the tone of past events to be more fitting with the Adventures of the time, and Nutman does a good job of avoiding the tried-and-true TMNT origins signposting – the boys have a “four baby turtles!” tale that’s been iterated upon endlessly in the same way as Batman’s mother’s broken pearls – while stuffing in some unique points of view on the book from then ’til now.
Ken Mitchroney handles art duties, his loose, stretchy style mostly handling the varied events, although some lookalike character models undermine the flow of the backstory slightly, and he’s maybe not the best at “gritty” scenes. But Ken’s page layouts and panels are always very dynamic, very exciting, and so the book is a colorful (via Barry Grossman) and never-still romp that assists in enlivening the familiar material, which comes to us via Splinter’s mediating and reminiscing on how he got from A to Z, while the boys (and Ninjara) are planning a surprise for him during interstitial moments. The aforementioned roughness around the edges might be, in part, due to some editing or art flubs – I think a character is named / pictured incorrectly (or confusingly?) when Splinter is flashing back to his days training Oroku Saki – but otherwise it’s just the push-and-pull of the story, since we could’ve used a whole issue on Splinter’s human years, but Nutman has to leave room to flash back forward through choice Adventures moments.
Things close out on the 1-page “Gary’s Gag Page” from Gary Fields, which I’m not going to take into rating account here, lest this thing drop a couple stars.