TMNT: Best of April O’Neil – Various

1 out of 5

Sorry, April, you’re going to be subject to some cumulative dislike of these Best Ofs.

So: across multiple reprints, and colorizations, and “director’s cuts,” and repackages of reprints, and expanded editions, and whatever else, we know IDW has a skill for milking its properties dry. I can’t blame them, if they’re selling, but it’s also what broke me as a Turtles collector, paring my collection down to just trades in some instances (as opposed to single issues + reprints + trades + blah blah blah…).

TMNT is one of those weird titles that’s been around in various iterations for a while – multiple decades – but has rarely been “consistent” in terms of tone, or focus, or publisher, until its current 100+ issue run at IDW. (Which, to me, is the most identity-less version of the brand, also responsible for breaking my desire to collect, but whatever.) So I do think it’s a cool idea to gather up some bits and bobs for character-focused ‘best of’ issues, and I was excited to see what the imprint had in store. Logically, they started with the 4 boys, and… these were some of the laziest shits ever, because they were predictable: gather the original micro series, the IDW micro series, and the IDW “macro” series, or whatever. Now, in some cases, those could be said to be the “best” stories for a character, but regardless, if you’re choosing from a set pool of tales, that’s not really a curated list – it’s just happenstance if they’re good or not.

Once the four books were published, I shrugged – I shake my fist in these reviews, but IDW did its job of getting some monies out of me, so once again, they’ve accomplished their goal. But they hooked me with some further promise: Best Ofs for Splinter? Casey? Shredder? Now you can’t select from that set roster, so what happens?

And they’ve been okay. There is, at least, the excitement of seeing what they choose.

Now to April: We get the original issue #2 (the IDW colorized version, of course), the IDW April micro, and… issue #118 from the current run, which came out the same year as this book. So you’re telling me that from 40 years of TMNT history, one of the “best” stories of a character came out this year?

Firstly, issue #118 does not focus on April. So maybe that’s a comment on how under-served she’s been over the years, but then maybe you call it a day with these cash-in Best Ofs. Secondly, issue #2: I guess you could argue this as a ‘best’ because it’s the character’s origin, but I guarantee you it’s also, very likely, one of the issues that most casual Turtles fans have read in some format already, since it’s also the first appearance of the Mousers, and Baxter. This would be like reprinting TMNT #1 as a Best Of. It’s lazy, and it doesn’t give your readers anything new.

I recognize maintaining a page count and lack of access to some material (like volume 4) makes these compilations difficult, but some creative thinking here could’ve brought in some Archie issues, or dug up some short stories. I know there’s been better April material than this over the years.

And now going back to not including covers of the individual issues as well? For shame, IDWers.

Join me next month when I buy the Shredder Best Of anyway, perpetuating this cycle.