SDCC 2017 [Panel/Comic Review]: TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo.
IDW has announced that the summer of 2017 is to be renamed the “Summer of the Turtles,” and two of the biggest events involving these teenage mutants would also involve crossing over with the one and only rabbit ronin, Usagi Yojimbo, both in the animated series and in a comics one-shot. The fact that the one-shot would be written, penciled and lettered by Stan Sakai, the legendary creator of Usagi Yojimbo, only served to raise my expectations and, as high as those expectations were, this issue delivered with a lean, green bullet.
Sakai crafts a masterpiece in this issue, bringing a group of anthropomorphic ninja turtles who are the weirdest part of their New York setting together with an anthropomorphic samurai bunny who’s the most normal part of his Japanese setting in a story steeped in a Japanese mythology while remaining action-packed and exciting. With everything from an intensw sword fight between Usagi and Leonardo to beautiful double page spreads of the turtles and Usagi fighting Jei (who also happens to be the villain of the animated series crossover) and his band of sword-weilding assassins, this comic feels like non-stop action; yet, the one-shot somehow manages to slow down long enough to fill you in on that Japanese mythology and any exposition you may need.
Sakai’s blending of actual mythology with action and adventure is virtually unparalelled, only matched by Walt Simonson’s run on Thor, a nice fit considering this issue does feature a quick cameo from Kashima-No-Okami, the Japanese God of Thunder. The ending of this issue does leave the door open for a follow-up adventure and I sure as hell hope IDW follow through with that, especially considering what Sakai said in the IDW “Summer of the Turtles” panel at SDCC, which you can read all about just down below. 5/5 Giant Catfish.
TMNT: SUMMER OF THE TURTLES IDW PANEL (Saturday – 24ABC) – Back in 2011 IDW launched a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, in the process bringing Kevin Eastman back to work on his greatest creation. Since the first issue, the series has been a smash hit, the best Ninja Turtles run ever, and arguably a top 5 comic throughout it’s duration. As good as that’s been, however, IDW have dubbed the summer of 2017 the “Summer of the Turtles,” claiming this to be IDW’s biggest summer of TMNT publishing ever, beginning with this upcoming week’s TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo one-shot.
Issue #73 is at least part of the reason they chose to make this the “Summer of the Turtles”; with that, the current ongoing will be the longest running TMNT comic run ever and based on what I saw in the panel, they seem poised to deliver on what may seem like a hyperbolic claim.
The summer begins with the story “Karai’s Path,” which just began in TMNT Universe #12, a story writer Erik Burnham said was 2 years in the making and described as Karai putting a tactical team together and going on a quest for a legendary, powerful sword. It’s all about Karai finding her way after being robbed of what she believed to be her purpose, rebuilding the Foot Clan. Some of the characters in this story will eventually return to the main series changed, particularly Bludgeon, whom Burnham said was surprised he was allowed to take this direction with.
Following that will be “The Trial of Krang” which will take place in TMNT #73-75 and TMNT: Dimension X, a 5-issue weekly series that will have the Turtles attempting to make sure every witness against Krang makes it to the trial after it comes out that Krang hired an assassin to murder them. They made sure to specify that this story will be a trial story, but it does exist in an action comic and that we’ll find out new things about the characters, like the fact that Mickey loves wrestling but may also have a bit of a gambling problem.
The final announcement was that in November, IDW will be releasing TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 and that the effects of this crossover will carry over into both ongoing series. The panel ended with a Q&A in which Stan Sakai stated that as happy as he was with the Usagi/TMNT one-shot, he would love to one day do at least a 5-issue mini-series, so now that that’s out there, IDW and Dark Horse, the ball’s in your court. 4.25/5 Ninja Bibles.