Review: Ultimate TMNT collection Volume 3

One of my favorite things that IDW has been doing for us fans is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “The Ultimate Collection” books.  And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Volume 3 just came out last week!  These books are amazing and known for bringing us the original TMNT series in order.  As Volumes 1 and 2 share not just the ongoing story from Mirage Volume 1, but also the Micro Comics!  Though it’s not just those awesome stories that makes these books worth the price, it’s the also awesome notes from Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird throughout the book.  Though with Volume 3, we’re entering some of the areas where Eastman and Laird were not working together, and others were coming in to write their comics.  Let’s see what fun facts they have to share with us on these amazing tales of TMNT history.

The first thing I noticed with this book is the lack of some issues.  As I go through the book, issue #13 "The People's Choice", issue #16 “A TMNT Time Tale”, and Issue #18 "The Shell of the Dragon" are not listed as comics that were printed in Volume 3.  I’m wondering why that is as each of these issues were done by some amazing people who are some of the backbones of Mirage, like Michael Dooney, Mark Martin and Mark Bode.  These guys have worked on many TMNT projects and their comics are well known throughout the fandom.  I’m hoping that they address why these issues are not in this book as it’s a bit of a disappointment to know the stories are not in order now.

The comic that is in Volume 3 is issue 12, “Survivalists”.  Written by Peter Laird, this is a fun issue where the Turtles take on a group out in Northampton which is up to no good.  This issue was turned into an episode in the 4Kids series called H.A.T.E. Of course they changed it around for the TV show, but its always a nice touch to see a comic get animated into the series.  After the comic comes my favorite part of the Ultimate Collection the notes.  Kevin speaks about how this is his and Peter’s first time splitting up, how he was to be working on issue 13 while Peter got issue #12 done.  Though the comic that Kevin was working on became issue 14 instead.  Peter is a bit more blunt here about why they’re not working together.  He says how they were sick of each other and could not have worked on another book together at the time.  He also seems a bit hard on his younger self about how the book was done, picking on the faces and trees.  It’s a shame such a great book is really marking the beginning of changes and hard times.

After sharing a few awesome pieces of art, we go into the page by page notes about issue 12.  It’s good to see that Peter is writing these notes in this issue as I am really thrilled that they have both Eastman and Laird working with them through these full books.  With page 1, Peter talks about his drawing of Donatello with the bow and the processed used for this drawing.  In pages 2 and 3, Peter expresses that he wishes he could've done more of these hang out scenes with the Turtles enjoying life and even shares a story about the shirt that April is wearing.  Peter goes on to share stories through the full comic, what inspired scenes like all the dog jokes with Splinter.  It’s an interesting read.  He even goes to talk about some of the other art at the end of the issue.

Next is issue 14 "The Unmentionables".  As I mentioned earlier, they jumped over issue 13 in this volume.  How can it truly be the Ultimate Collection if they don’t give every issue in order?  There’s something wrong with this.

Issue 14 is just as awesome as it is in the original print, so I’m going to my favorite area with the notes from Kevin and Peter.  Kevin shares how he came up with the idea for this issue, including some touches from his home town in Maine.  He goes through the details that are in this issue like walking through Northampton, even with Mirage Studios.  Peter does not have much to share about this issue, as it was Kevin’s story.  This is not a story that is one of Peter’s favorite type of stories as he was not a fan of the Turtles being the supporting characters in their own comic book, with Casey and April having the lead roles.

I find it interesting that the page by page story here is done by Peter, after seeing this is not his favorite type of story.  Mainly Peter goes through and points out things he noticed like going through Northampton with some notes of the places that we see.  He points out a spelling error.  And even shares some pieces he really liked that Kevin did in this book.  Though since he was not on the writing team for this issue, we don’t get much insight on the story itself.  Curious as to why Kevin did not write the page by page notes here.

Now we’re going onto a very fun issue, one of those comics that just stands out as totally awesome.  Issue 15, "Dome Doom".  This book also has its own version in the 4Kids cartoon series.  It also introduced some awesome characters.  Not only do I love the story in this issue, I love the artwork.  You can see Peter’s style through the full book and it looks great!  In the notes, Kevin mentions how the cover is one of his favorite things with this issue, as Peter wanted it to have that beaten up look.  So Kevin talks a bit on how Peter did this.  Peter shares even more details about the creations of the cover, as he talks about it from the beginning steps including the facts that Ryan Brown helped inked and where he got the color copy done.  This is an interesting read.

Once again the page by page notes are done by Peter as he starts to talk about how he was falling behind, and that it was good to have Jim Lawson there to ink.  He talks about where he fit Steve’s comic into Northampton, a fictional store in Northampton.  Peter goes through page by page, sharing his likes and dislike through this comic book.  He’s got a lot to share and even goes on to talking about the letter and the art on the back over.  There’s a lot of cool information in here, including how Michael Dooney helped with one of the characters that Peter was having a hard time with.

Issue 17 "Distractions" is one of my favorite issues.  I’ve always enjoyed reading this issue and I’m excited to see that it’s not one of the books cut from Volume 3.  Though I am sad that issue 16 was cut from the book.  This still troubles me that they’re not covering all of the issues of the Mirage comics.  After enjoying the read of a very creative and fun issue, I get to the notes.  This is one of those comics that did not get the page by page notes.  Starting with Kevin’s notes he goes over how he knows Eric and how this story started to come together.  This was Eric’s story, Kevin felt more like a cheerleader in the background.  Kevin was really proud of Eric’s work done on this comic and with good reason.  It’s an awesome comic!   Peter makes a confession about this comic and talks about Eric’s artwork.

A part of me is cringing at the idea that they did not put "The Shell of the Dragon" into the book.  Mark is an awesome artist and I love his work.  It is so disappointing that we’re skipping over that.  If they left those three books in, they could of started off Volume 4 with Return to New York, that would of been so awesome.  Instead, they squeezed it into Volume 3, by taking out some great stories.  I do not know why they chose to do this, as there’s still no mention of the missing books.

Now we go on to “Return to New York” Part 1, Mirage #19, one of the great issues known by many fans and spoken of often.  Of course, this one has long notes from both Eastman and Laird, as they return working together at bringing forth an awesome TMNT story.  Kevin starts off by talking about how busy it was at Mirage for Peter and him during this time.  He talks of how important it was to be able to control your own characters.  So when they got the chance to do Return to New York it was like getting the band back together.  And he talks about the choice to bring Shredder back as well as how they decided to do this with Mirage being as busy as it was back then.  Eastman and Laird would write the story together and do layouts to let the other artist help with the rest of it.  It’s interesting to read how they worked things out.  Next Kevin talks about the story of issue 19, how Raph is the one to get them to return to New York.

Peter talks a bit about how the covers of these comics are different from their other covers.  He also shares how the inside of the books were done as well, and talks about some of the other art.  His area is short, but he also gets to write up the page by page information about the comic so he still gets to share a bit.  In the page to page notes, Peter talks about the layouts that Kevin did, the nice pencil work that Jim Lawson got done, and how he inked it with a fine point Tombow.

Peter goes on to share a lot of what he likes about the pages as he goes through the book with us.  Page by Page, double spread pages with details like Jim slipping in a Norton motorcycle poster.  I cannot express how awesome these notes are, and why I think everyone needs to read this for themselves.  By doing so you learn about Peter’s gripe with the fight between Raph and Leo in this issue, even though he clearly states that the layout that Kevin did is brilliant.  Another great read.

In issue 20 we pick up with Return to New York.  Kevin and Peter both talk a little bit about the layouts.  Kevin was very impressed on how they all came together with his layout work from issue 19, Peter doing the layouts in 20 and they both did layouts for 21 and how it worked very well.  He also talks a bit about Zog.  Really some fun notes to read.  Peter once again had short notes, but did the page by page detail notes.

Peter starts off talking about the two page spread at the beginning and goes into his favorite page being the 5th page.  He also brings up the computer graphics he used in this issue.  I like his line showing the times “Crude by today’s standards, but I think it worked.”  The truth is we look back at things that way a lot, compare it to the now and things have changed so much.  But really sometimes you don’t have to go overboard with what we have now, what we had worked just great.  And that can be said with this issue as Return to New York is a story arc everyone knows and loves the way it is.  They did wonderful!

Another thing that caught my eye with these notes is Peter pointing out a mistake in the comic for page 16.  Wanna know what that mistake is?  Then pick up this awesome book!

He talks about the fact that Kevin did do some layout for pages in this book as there was some areas where Kevin wanted some stuff added for pacing.  Peter goes on talking about Zog a bit here, the touches he likes during Zog’s fight.  What I do like is that Peter does also give a nod to the 4Kids TMNT TV series having an adaptation of this issue.

Flipping through issue 21, I remember just why I loved the old art work as this is all very beautiful work.  Really, their artwork in these issues was top notch!  Kevin’s notes for this issue are great as he goes over the art, layout and how he feels about these issues over all.  Peter talks about the difference between the three different art styles through the books.  And once again Peter gets the page by page notes.

Peter goes through the comic talking about some awesome stuff.  Once again he points out an error in the comic.  This time it’s a continuity error.  Peter goes on to bring us through the issue in his views of the book.  Each note something else that holds me to the page reading it.  Over all he did a great job in this book at keeping details here for everyone to enjoy.

I can not recommend these Ultimate Collection books more than I do.  Though I will say once again I am disappointed that they cut three issues from this book.  It’s disappointing, as I thought these were going to be the collector books in which I can keep telling people they stayed in order and is worth the pick up.  Instead, I can just tell everyone of the wonderful notes and how books 1 & 2 is all in order.

Do you have the Ultimate Collection Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 3?  If so what are your thoughts?  Please feel free to share reviews, comments and questions below!

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