When I had originally heard that Kevin Eastman, one of the original creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was coming back to relaunch his comic book series I was interested to see what would come of it. After picking up the first issue and reading it without looking up from cover to cover, I can tell you that it was the best thing that's happened to the franchise in years. Instead of trying to tie any continuity from any of the past mediums of the series, Eastman re-introduces the heroes in a half shell by throwing the reader in the middle of an intense battle and then having flashbacks to the NEW origin story. That's right. The original creator has updated the origin, and it's actually panning out to be better than the original.
Many people aren't aware that the Turtles originated as a very violent comic book. In fact, in the first issue the group kills Shredder. That's right. The original comic book has Shredder dead by the end of the first issue. This new series doesn't have Shredder (not yet at least), but it does have some nods to characters that will show up down the road.
The artwork by Dan Duncan is top notch. It has the exact feel that you'd expect from a gritty street level story about mutants fighting street gangs. Because that's who the Turtles really are - perpetrators of street justice. Sure they fight other mutants and super villains from time to time, but the real core of the green four is that they're trying to save neighborhoods from crime and violence. All of the tone and emotion is carried through very well in the characters and backgrounds, and being the artist in charge of the new origins for some of pop culture's favorite heroes is no easy task.
I really think this might end up being my definitive version of these characters. Out of all of the comics I read today, this was by far the best one. If you're a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, this book has the version many of us have been begging for year after year, but no studio or TV channel will answer. Well done Mr. Eastman, well done. This title is currently being published by IDW and just debuted today. Go and get a copy, you won't regret it.