Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Presents: Merdude (#1 – 3) – Dan Berger

3 out of 5

I like the idea of small mini-series for our side characters – April, Leatherhead, and now Merdude – even if they were kind of uneven.  Mutanimals never had a chance to really come across as its ‘own’ series, always hijacked into or springing from TMNT plots, and April was certainly a character most deserving of her own path; Merdude didn’t much grab my interest as a kid (and, to be frank, he’s not super interesting here, either), but Dan Berger does a good job of at least making him seem like he’s part of the TMNT world in this mini, bringing in minor beats from previous issues – Mondo’s girlfriend, the Glublubs – and tagging this mini on to the tail end of Armaggon business.  He even does some effective retconning to make Merdude’s origin seem a bit more ‘logical.’  (TMNT Entity’s review states similar opinions, so it seems fair to link to it.)

That said, Berger also renders Army into a joke, and these issues are wildly disconnected from one another, seeming to include some type of ongoing plot thread of Armaggon teaming up with some other time-traveling aliens, but completely dropping that after the first issue.  And instead of it feeling like three books of Merdude-led antics, it comes across as three wholly separate events that could’ve happened in entirely different times and with different characters.  It’s a weird half-in, half-out juxtaposition.

Michael Gaydos’ art makes a nice impression – moreso than his work in the Specials – with muscular, weighty characters, and a design for the back of Merdude’s head that never ceases to not perplex me, the way it’s drawn so consistently.  He has a good sense of balance with his backgrounds, and the size of his characters give the action some impact.  It would’ve been nice to see him get more issues to develop this style even further.

Merdude has some really fun and interesting concepts, hung together by the loosest of plots and then rather undermined by an ineffectively used villain.