Review: Color Classic TMNT #2

IDW Publishing has decided to release the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Comics in color, in May we got the Classic Color TMNT #1 and now we’ve gotten Classic Color TMNT #2.  This is not the first time that the 2nd issue of Mirage TMNT was printed in color.  The first company that brought us the color reprint was ‘First Graphic Novel”.  In the review of the IDW reprint, I will also compare between the graphic novel reprint.

For those who have not read issue two of the Mirage comics, this issue is where we meet April O’Neil, Baxter Stockman and the Mousers.  April is working for Baxter Stockman, and finds that the robots she helped build to control the city’s rat problems are being used instead to rob banks.  Baxter tries to kill her off, but she is saved by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  This story inspired episodes two and three of the 4Kids TMNT series that aired in 2003.

This is the first time I’ve seen anyone color the cover of Mirage #2.  I normally like seeing things in color, though for me the cover looks so weird in color.  It doesn’t look right.  The more I look at it though the more I’m okay with it.  Though overall I love the original feel of the cover more than this colored version.

Going into the first page, which is a full page spread of Raphael screaming “Kiss your butt goodbye!!” with his sais in his hands.   In the graphic novel by First,  this is page 41.  The coloring between the two books have different shades of green.  In the graphic novel it looks brighter with dark green over most of his body with some highlights on the legs and top of the head.  Though in the comic book there are more highlights.  There is a big difference in the shading between the two books, as the comic is using more dots for their shadings, while the old graphic novel has line shading.  It is interesting to see these two pages next to each other to see the different styles of color used.

Pages two and three are in a two page spread.  The color work in the new comic for this is done really well, as they did some great changes.  The lampshades are yellow instead of pink, the wall scrolls have artwork on them, instead of being blank pink, the walls are more dirty like what you’d find under ground, when First Novels had the walls yellow.  They truly made a lot of great choices in their color work for this two page spread.  I love the blue couch cushion.  The detail is really nicely done in the comic.

Though the next page the full detailed background disappears and they use the same trick that was used in the First Novels version, with solid color backgrounds.  At least it’s blue and purple instead of yellow and pink, still disappointing seeing as how the walls were nicely colored on the previous page.  A different trick they used in coloring is any talking from the TV has a light blue tint in the talk bubble.  They also took time to color those on the TV set, so it seems the Turtles have a color TV now instead of a black and white one that went blue.  It looks much better with the characters on the TV in color.  And one of the best things they could do in coloring that was different from First Novels is they made it so Splinter’s nose is not blue.

The following page reminds me a lot of the First Novels color work when it comes to backgrounds with yellows and pinks.  Though with this page, I like the work in First Novels a bit more, as they give us different color rats coming out of the box and the blood is more red.  In the IDW print of this, the blood from the rats is more black.  There is one touch I really do like in the IDW comic, they color the light on the head of the mouser.  It adds character to the mouser.  I also like that they have that blue tint on the mouser so that it looks more metallic.

The next few pages are about the same with changes in what is color and what is shaded.  They don’t have as much pink in the IDW comic, which is a touch I like.  Though different panels give different feelings, like when April and Baxter are heading down to the lab, in the panel where April says “And this?” and Baxter replies “Security Check”.  In IDW, it’s all blues and shaded out, though in the First Novel they have color on the characters where the light is coming through. I prefer the First Novel version over the IDW coloring in that panel.  But the panel directly below it, which has a full room of mousers, is a different story.  I love how the do the shading in the IDW comic of this panel, with light coming down from the light fixtures.  I also really like the coloring of the rock wall.

Jumping back and forth through the next few pages in things I like through both books.  IDW has a lot of great touches, doing things different and keeping it fresh.  Though I love how First Novels had the color of the gunk that April was running to stick to her clothes showing it’s thick and nasty, it stands out more in their version.  Though IDW uses those awesome lights on the mousers, which gives a great effect in the dark sewers.  The tones in the IDW book are much darker.

Once at the Turtles’ lair, April is waking up.  The color choices are different still, but done slightly the same with solid color backgrounds.  I do like the touch of the panel where April is sitting in up with the wall behind her, they added her shadow to the wall.  In the First Novels that wall was just pure yellow with no shadows.  They also do a nice job at having the wall behind Splinter on the next page colored as a wall.

Though what I find interesting here is a picture of Leonardo saying the origin story is in issue 1 of TMNT.  Now while I’ve owned the original comic for a long time, I’ve always read these issues in the First Novels, as I liked the color and I liked the idea of not messing up my original comics.  So I never noticed this panel before.  This panel was removed from First Graphic Novel printing, most likely because the first issue was in the same book, they even moved the panel with April saying “What a fantastic story” over into the spot that this panel is in.  It’s nice to see it in here, and in color.

As we move on in the book, I like that when we have the shot of April on the bed and Splinter is talking to her, the wall is colored the right way and not one of those solid colors like what First Novels did.  Though I was surprised that when the TV started talking they didn’t use the same coloring they did earlier, where the text from the tv had that light blue tint.  Instead it’s just like any other word bubble with a white background.  In First Novels some of it had a white background, though other parts had a yellow background with orange around it.

I do like that if they have to use a solid color background, they go with blue still over the bright colors.  As I look back and forth between the two color books, that yellow in the “First Graphic Novels” print really glares out at me, the blue fits into it a lot more.  Each panel showing their slight differences as well, like where it shows each of the Turtles holding their weapons as Splinter is telling his Ninjas to go with April, in the old comics they had Don’s wrap white, they had the strap on Leo’s sheath white, and the blades of Raph’s sais were a lot more white.  In the IDW coloring they kept with their darker colors, as Don’s wrap is brown like the rest of the bo, the sais are grey, Leo’s sheath is all one color, but the handle has the design in different browns.

As we go through Baxter’s lab, it’s still got this nice dark tone to it and the detail remains really well thought out and done, as you can even need a nice light reflection off of Leo’s sword when he surprised Baxter with it.  I also like the color IDW choose for Baxter’s pants a lot more, as they’re more of a greyish blue, in the First Novel printing they gave him red pants.  Shading is really well done here, as April’s face is not all one color, it shows where light is hitting her.  It gives a good feel for these panels.  One difference I’m not use to with the IDW coloring is the light colors for the elbow, knee and wrist pads on the Turtles.  Those are normally a leather brown, which is what First Graphic Novel had in their color work.

Both of these books did a good job with the rock slide that comes out at Michaelangelo as he opens the elevator door with me still leaning more towards IDW color work, since the First Graphic Novel is using that bright yellow for all of the walls.  Though really the panel I gotta give IDW a lot of credit for is where Leo says he’s got a plan.  In First Novels, the background is flat yellow, in IDW they give lines where the walls and ceiling meet, giving the room more depth, they put Don and April’s shadows on the computer.  I just love the thought and detail that went into that panel compared to the other book.

Now with the tunnel as the Turtles are setting up the plastic explosives I think that First Graphic Novels did a better job, as they gave more color and detail to the tunnel, with brown for the wood, different color between the broken parts of the wall, and pipes.  IDW just did the full tunnel in shading.  IDW did get colorful with their tic tic and scratch noises, and once again they use that awesome light effect for the top of the mousers heads.  Though I am still disappointed that every tunnel shot in the IDW comics has no color detail to the walls.  I really was spoiled by the color work in the First Novels on these tunnels.  Even after the cave in, it just feels very bland with no other colors besides for the Turtles.  Though when looking back into the lap April and Don are colored, the computers are colored, there feels to be more detail in that image than what First Novels has.  So it’s really back and forth on what panels got detailed treatment.

The next really big difference in coloring comes when Leonardo slices a mouser open it has a reddish brown color come out of it.  Could be blood or some sort of fuel, coming out of it.  In the First Graphic Novel they had this stuff come out as white, which did not make sense either.  Did this mouser have a mouse in it, so there was blood for Leo’s sword?  Though on the following page for both versions, Leo’s sword is clean.  With the white stuff I could see it not being there, but that red stuff it should still be on the sword.

With the two page spread the only thing I don’t really like in the First Novel tunnel is the bright blue wall and yellow room at the end of the tunnel, otherwise I still like the detail put into the tunnel with that version more than IDW’s version which shows mainly the Turtles in color.  The Mousers stand out much better in the First Novel’s version, in the IDW version the only things with color is the Turtles themselves and the lights on the mousers.   Though when the mousers break through and the turtles retreat to the lab, I like IDW’s version better because they keep with their theme, while First just turned the walls blue.  It was if First got lazy with that last panel of the tunnel.

Down to the last few pages now, and back to the point where I like the work of IDW, as the room looks better with their walls than those bright yellow walls in First Novels.  Though the last page is hard to compare.  They were both done in different ways.  I like the one that First Graphic Novels did, as it has all the Turtles and April well lit.  You see their colors and would make a nice pin up on the wall.  Though the version from IDW is more realistic as the only light is coming from a flame, so they got that as their light source and the rest of it leading to darkness.  So both did a great job at giving us this image in color.

Overall IDW did a great job.  There’s things I like in both color versions, the old one from First and this new one from IDW.  I do recommend this comic for fans who’ve not read the Mirage Comics and collectors out there.  It’s also good for artist to get both versions and see the differences in these color works themselves, cause it was really fun seeing the two comics right near each other page by page.

Credits for the color work in the IDW Comics go to Tom Smith’s Scorpion Studios.  In the First Graphic Novel it’s Kevin Eastman, Ken Feduniewicz and Janice Cohen.

Have you seen this color version of Mirage #2?  What do you think of how IDW did?  Do you prefer IDW coloring or First Graphic Novels?  Please feel free to share reviews, comparisons, comments and questions below.

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