Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Urban Legends (#22 – 23) – Gary Carlson

4 out of 5

Moving at its usual super fast clip – massive upheavals that would be stretched out over a year in Marvel or DC are dealt with in one or two panels – TMNT Image (reprinted as ‘Urban Legends’ by IDW, via which I’m reading it in full for the first time) comes to its first “official” close, interestingly tossing in a puzzler right at the end of its run with the appearance of a Lady Shredder, punctuating the conclusion of Raph’s / Pimiko’s showdown over leadership of The Foot.

But, while that might be the largest scale surprise, it’s hardly all Carlson tried to pack in: Don develops the ability to deploy robotic duplicates; Leo gains a rather hilarious very 90s Image blade hand to cap his Komodo dragon-eaten stump; Mikey gets published (and makes it to “third base” with the “slow” Horridus, which is maybe questionable, and also we’re told that she has nice knockers?…) ; and even Casey’s seemingly jokey subplot about becoming a town hero gets a wrinkle when the people who footed his reward money bounce the check.   And: a Foot rooftop clash, echoing some of Mirage’s classic moments, with Raphael chained between posts like a King Kong sacrifice.  Frank Fosco, inking himself in issue 23, does a bang up job through, giving modern day colorist Adam Guzowski lots of linework and details to splash bright colors upon.

This book, though going in fits and spurts and likely super compressed as it was coming to an end, was undeniably dang fun and pretty creative, and seeing all of this stuff together does, retroactively, make it unfortunate that it couldn’t have continued on in its original form for the same 100+ issues IDW has now managed.  It’s especially admirable that Carlson was able to both seed in some “I wonder…” new concepts while also tacking on a satisfying enough ending that brings the series to its close.  Although, of course, we have some fan-made issues forthcoming as reprints, so obviously there were people, a decade back, way more hep than me and keen to reflame the Image fire.