Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 - Review
“Finally, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back – and better than ever! The story by Kevin Eastman (co-creator of TMNT) and Tom Waltz is great. It’s perfect for new fans with a lot of fan service for older fans, and the art is solid. There are only minor complaints, but this comic is a real gem with tons of callbacks to satisfy any TMNT fan.”
I am a pretty big TMNT fangirl and am so happy they are back to their original selves.
Indepth Analysis - Silent Hill: Among the Damned
As you may recall with my analysis of Silent Hill: Dying Inside, I am of the mindset that Scott Ciencin can’t write a solid Silent Hill story ark because he fundamentally doesn’t understand Silent Hill’s modus operandi. The biggest strength of Silent Hill is the feeling of absolute isolation that a town which is completely indifferent and heartless towards your presence can generate. Silent Hill doesn’t care about what you look like on the surface or how you got there; it’s just an abandoned town that has the uncanny ability to bring up the past. It doesn’t try to kill everything that enters it and the people who do see creatures don’t typically see the same ones. You can’t take things like Pyramid Heads, Sexy (Bubble Head) Nurses and Lying Figures and shove them in every panel when they hold no significance to the people exploring Silent Hill. The most defining thing about this franchise is the how the town pulls people in and forces them to face what they’re trying to escape. If you can’t understand Silent Hill’s motive, how are you supposed to write a compelling and sensical narrative?
To be blunt, Ciencin delivered a comic devoid of Silent Hill. No characters were relatable (or even likable), dialogue was vulgar and excessive, symbolism was weak, franchise staples were referenced to hell, artwork was muddy, and (worst of all) the story itself was forgettable. To say I disliked ‘Dying Inside’ would be a thorough understatement.
Scott Ciencin returns to Silent Hill with ‘Among the Damned’ (2004) - the first of his “Three Bloody Tales” comic mini-series. In this one-shot, stand-alone drawn by Shaun Thomas, Ciencin has a chance to make a lasting impression on the Silent Hill universe while also avoiding the missteps he took with ‘Dying Inside’. Does ‘Among the Damned’ stand up as the first comic worthy of the Silent Hill name or is this yet another disappointment from the IDW publishing group? Today we’ll find out.
This is the first of Ciencin’s works to present a likable protagonist. We open on a former soldier (Jason) dreaming about beautiful mountainside and the destruction of his military unit by a set of what seem to be Silent Hill creatures. The dream ends with him saving his friend and being ambushed by a creature that seems reminiscent of Silent Hill: Origins’ ‘The Butcher’. As you might imagine, our protagonist has PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Jason wakes up and mentions a woman named ‘Dahlia’. This kinda scares me. For those who need a refresher, Dahlia Gillespie was a prominent member of The Order in the first Silent Hill game and leader of the Sect of the Holy Woman. Being a primary antagonist in the Silent Hill universe, the mention of her name off-the-cuff (without any context) had me more than a little concerned, but I digress. Among the Damned’s Dahlia is simply a musician gone missing - there is oddly no connection between this Dahlia and Dahlia Gillespie.
A couple weird panel transitions later, Jason explains to a beautiful blonde girl at the motel he’s apparently staying at that he only needs enough strength so he can reach the top of the mountain (from his dreams) one last time and put a bullet in his head. This woman is Dahlia. In this continuity, she is both a citizen of the town and a famous singer. Jason continues to travel towards the mountain and after another fractured panel (what time period are we in?), Jason crashes and flips his car. He assumes that fate wants him to reach the mountains.
Our hero thinks he saw someone dart in front of the car before the crash - a plot-point that sounds pretty reminiscent of the first Silent Hill game’s opening. Naturally, he walks on foot to find a police station until he realizes that the town is abandoned. Upon reaching the station, he sees some creatures standing over the corpse of some cops. Jason doesn’t think that they’re real as he saw the same creatures attacking his military unit in his dreams, but decides that IF he were to die he’d rather do it by his own hand. He grabs a shotgun and starts to take down the creatures JUST as Dahlia shows up in the distance. A larger group encroaches on the couple once Jason reaches Dahlia in the amusement park and Dahlia gets stabbed from behind with what looks like a massive serrated sword. Enraged, Jason shoots to kill and drags Dahlia away. The two retreat for what Jason referred to as a “More Defensible Location” (as a reference to his military days).
This act really speaks to why the reader is able to connect with Jason. Being a former soldier, our protagonist is skilled enough to handle himself in a crisis situation and brave enough to save others in need. He isn’t happy with his life, but that doesn’t hamper him doing what is right and looking out for others. He’s reasonable, responsible, and respectful - a powerful combination for any visitor to the quiet, yet hellish town of Silent Hill.
While the creatures are on the chase, Jason turns to Dahlia and asks to see her wound. She is resistant for some unknown reason. While Jason’s back is turned, we learn that Dahlia is actually a monster of the town. This is where things start to deteriorate for the comic. Heavy weaponry is used excessively by one of Jason’s dead, zombie-like friends (Aaron) as the two continue their escape on foot - not questioning what they just saw.
The couple find a refuge of survivors and notice that the monsters aren’t coming in despite a wide opening in the perimeter. These survivors gush over the famous Dahlia’s appearance and Jason asks why the creatures of the town aren’t trying to get in. One of the survivors claims that they are being kept-out by a mystical sign etched in blood. I’m almost astounded with how much this concept actually feels like a genuine part of the Silent Hill universe; the Seal of the Metatron has been used in the past to control the power of the town and the use of a seal to ward off creatures is a brilliant idea. However, the seal that they use is not the Seal of the Metatron, but the Halo of the Sun. Weirdly enough, this has only ever been used a symbol of the town’s cult; never before has there been any reference to the Halo of the Sun acting as a ward.
Before Jason can ask anymore questions, Dahlia collapses and begins to mutate. Jason goes in to check on her and she alludes to how turned on she is by him. As opposed to running the hell away from the clearly insane and monstrous Dahlia, Jason leaves the next morning holding her hand. In the distance, Aaron and the rest of Jason’s squad approach the two while chanting, “It’s time.” Dahlia and Jason run to a nearby church as monsters follow suit. She rips out her heart (to “keep him safe”) and presents it to Jason after mutating again. Dahlia commands the creatures to halt and throws Jason out of the window towards his former military unit.
It turns out that his former zombie-fied military unit was not there to kill Jason, but are actually trying to escort him out of town. It is revealed that Aaron was the one who was supposed to survive the slaughter of their unit and bargained with the town to keep Jason safe. Jason’s unit explains that he was the best of all of them and deserved to live.
The comic concludes with Jason meeting up with Dahlia on the Mountain and deciding to “give it a try” together. Is Dahlia still a demon? How did she get there? Did the town want her to get together with Jason? Are the people trapped in the town going to be okay? Ciencin doesn’t care about these questions, so I won’t care about their answers.
‘Among the Damned’ definitely sucks, but it sucks significantly less than Ciencin’s other works. The comic is bolstered by Jason’s character and the strong art direction, but writing is just as contrived as ever and the symbolism implemented is like a punch to the face. Franchise characters exist in name only, creatures from the games are shoehorned into almost every frame, there is still a significant amount of WTF moments that are never alluded to or explained, and the ending doesn’t make a lick of sense. I still feel like this one-shot isn’t worthy of the franchise, but I would at least recommend a read. Shame I can’t say the same about Ciencin’s next release.
Fear Net's Interview with Tom Waltz on Writing Silent Hill: Downpour
Tom Waltz has become a well known face in the world of Silent Hill. First writing the critically acclaimed Silent Hill: Sinners Reward comic then just recently writing Silent Hill: Past Life comic which is getting great reviews all over. But what some Silent Hill fans may not know is he is writing the story behind the next Silent Hill video game titled “Silent Hill: Downpour.”
FearNet.com got in touch with Waltz to ask a couple quick questions regarding his writing on Silent Hill: Downpour.
Tom Waltz Feels Turtle Power in "TMNT"
EXCLUSIVE ART: The revamped origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues in “TMNT” #6 Five issues into IDW Publishing’s relaunch of the evergreen “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” property, the creative team of Tom Waltz, Dan Duncan and “Turtles” co-creator Kevin Eastman have regrown the amphibious heroes from experimental ooze, introduced a new and deadly villain, established a cast of human allies and adversaries, and set one of the ninja brothers apart from the rest. “TMNT” has been through several incarnations throughout the years, beginning in 1984 as a black and white independent comic by Eastman and Peter Laird before rocketing to worldwide fame three years later. Nickelodeon ultimately bought the franchise in 2009, and IDW picked up the license for “Turtles” comics shortly after, bringing Eastman on board as co-writer and layout artist. The new IDW continuity, still in its infancy, begins with the intelligent (though not-yet-humanoid) rat Splinter and four turtles Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael undergoing genetic experiments at a shady research facility. When ninja Foot soldiers break in to steal the lab’s secrets, they take the turtles along. Splinter, already a fierce fighter, manages to free the captives, but in the process accidentally douses them — and a nearby alley cat — with a mysterious substance from the laboratory. The rat, the turtles and cat soon mutate into anthropomorphic forms, but Raphael finds himself separated from the others. The first arc of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” follows Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo as they search for their prodigal brother, while Raphael undergoes trials of his own. With the first arc of the relaunched “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” behind him, series writer Tom Waltz expressed extraordinary enthusiasm for the title. “Honestly, this has been one of the best — if not the best — writing experiences in my career, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve loved nearly every project I’ve been fortunate enough to be a involved with over the years,” he told CBR. “I’m having an absolute blast working with crazy Kevin Eastman and the gang — artist Dan Duncan, colorist Ronda Pattison, editor-extraordinaire Bobby Curnow and all the fine folks at Nickelodeon. I love the story we’re building — every time I finish a script, I’m ready to dive right into the next one. And the fans have been great! I’ve worked on a number of what I call fan-driven licenses — things like ‘Silent Hill,’ ‘Duke Nukem,’ ‘Dead Rising,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ etc. — and I always do my best to be active in online forums, etc., not only because I like to see what the fans are saying, but because, first and foremost, I’m a fan myself. The ‘TMNT’ fans have welcomed me with open arms and, best of all, open minds. There is heated debate that takes place, but for the most part, it’s civil and never boring — I dig watching all the cool theories develop about what we’re doing and what we might be up to. “Also, ‘TMNT’ is something I can share with my entire family — my lovely wife, my kids, everyone in my clan who has always supported my work — which makes it even more special to me,” Waltz continued. “So, yeah, awesome experience, and I really feel the best is yet to come.”
EXCLUSIVE ART: April O’Neil fans will be pleased with upcoming issues of “TMNT” In that first arc, spanning issues #1-4, Raphael was separated from the others as the Turtles’ new origin story played out. Waltz said this allowed the creative team to highlight the traditional loner of the group, examining the ties that hold Splinter’s students together. “The idea for Raph being separated from his family in the early issues was actually something that came to us from Nickelodeon in the initial stages of plotting. I think the thought process was, Raph’s always been the rebel of the group — the loner with a giant chip on his shoulder — and we wanted to give a valid reason for why he is that way. Being lost and alone for what technically amounts to the first year of his life is something that would most definitely create that type of personality,” Waltz said. “But, as time passes, readers will see that we have similar plans [to showcase] all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their supporting characters. We won’t only show the TMNT’s diverse personalities, we’ll also show why they are as different and unique as they are.” The series has also introduced a new nemesis for the Turtles in Old Hob, an anthropomorphic cat with a special connection to the Turtles’ origin. “It was actually IDW Chief Creative Officer and Editor in Chief Chris Ryall who gets credit for the existence of Old Hob,” Waltz said. “We were in his office one day, discussing the early stages of the ‘TMNT’ plot, and he said something along the lines of, ‘Maybe we should bring in a new villain for the Turtles to fight. Somebody cool and mean and street gritty. Like a mutated alley cat.’ And, bang! The seed was planted in my brain for Old Hob. I threw ideas back and forth with Kevin and Bobby, then Dan did some character design work we all loved and Old Hob was born. Hob’s got a lot of story left in him, too, with plenty of twists and turns yet to come. As Hob would say, he’s friggin’ fun to write!” Following the initial four-part storyline, the self-contained issue #5 raised a number of questions about Splinter’s origins and his connection with Hamato Yoshi, a samurai disgraced for standing against the wicked actions of his clan, led by Oroku Saki. “I’m extremely proud of the back-story we’re building, the new origin, and I guarantee we’ll be exploring it much more — not just in the ongoing, but in our micro-series and miniseries books as well,” Waltz said. “Issue #5 holds a special place in my comic book writing heart and I can’t thank the creators who worked with me on it enough for all the beautiful work they put into it to bring my strange script to life. Nor could I be happier with the critical response, not to mention the outpouring of positive support and interest from the fans.” In the issues coming up, fans will see more of Baxter Stockman, and General Krang will finally make his presence known. Previous incarnations of “TMNT” have offered several takes on Baxter — in the first cartoon, he was a human fly a la Jeff Goldblum — while Krang usually is portrayed as a brain-like creature. CBR News asked Waltz how he is building from these characters’ pasts to create new versions at IDW. “Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that fans will get to finally see General Krang in issue #7 and I think they will be very happy with what they see — and very surprised,” the writer said. “Like everything else we’re doing with the series, there will be the familiar mixed with the new, and Dan Duncan’s come up with some character designs in the second and third arcs that are gonna make readers squeal with delight — I know I did when I first saw them! And just wait till we show who Krang is at war with!”
EXCLUSIVE ART: Series artist Dan Duncan was suggested to Waltz by Scott Lobdell Continuing on the topic of supporting characters, April O’Neil, while integral to the Turtles’ origin, has yet to meet the Heroes in a Half Shell in Waltz’s story. Casey Jones, another human ally, has already fought alongside Raphael and has now been taken into the brothers’ and Splinter’s confidence. Waltz promised there are big plans for both non-mutant heroes. “April has always been one of my favorite popular culture characters. She’s smart, feisty, brave, cute, loyal — you name it! I’m a huge proponent of strong female characters in stories and April is one of the best and I’m absolutely honored to have the chance to write her. So, yeah, she will continue to play a big part in the ever-evolving storyline,” Waltz said. “As for how she’ll handle meeting the big, green, fighting machines, well, all I’ll say is this (and Bobby C’s gonna kill me for admitting this) — make sure you buy issue #8 to find out! But, before that happens, plenty of other neat April moments in issues #6 and #7. Casey Jones, too!” Artist Dan Duncan, working from Eastman’s layouts, has given the series an interesting and distinctive look. Waltz said that he met Duncan through writer Scott Lobdell, who was writing the “Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Music Box” miniseries Waltz edited. “He told me to check out Dan’s stuff (which he loved). I did and, man, I was floored. Dan has a very distinct style — indie and inky and exciting. He’s not an artist to dwell on gobs of background details — rather, he gives each panel a fun, open, kinetic energy, which works perfect for a story featuring giant turtles with a penchant for ninja fightin’!” Waltz said. “He just keeps getting better and better — the pages he turned into us today for issue #8 were bombastic, man! And, I totally dig how he still finds ways to give each character — including our heroes sans pupils — so much emotion and character in their faces and their actions. I can’t thank ol’ Scotty Lobdell enough for introducing me to Dan and I hope to work with Mr. Duncan for a long time to come.” Waltz went on to further praise the rest of the “TMNT” creative team, including colorist Ronda Pattison (“She flat out rocks!) and, of course, Kevin Eastman, whom he described as “one of the nicest friggin’ guys in the comic book biz and such a cool cat to collaborate with.” “I’m here to tell you that I pinch myself every day to be sure I’m not dreaming, and remind myself that I’m very, very lucky to do this for a living,” Waltz said. “I couldn’t be happier to have my fellow fans right alongside for the ride. Turtle power, indeed!”
http://dlvr.it/16rDD5 Support NERD Subscr