If you haven’t been following IDW’s latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic run (if you enjoy the Turtles at all you really should be though) then more than likely you have no idea what the heck Mutanimals even means. So a little bit of background is probably needed before I get into the actual review of the comics.
The original Mighty Mutanimals was a 12 issue comic that released back in 1991. It was a fairly typical 90’s cheesy comic featuring anthropomorphized animals fighting against evil villains, but where this ties into the Turtles is that the Mutanimals had a crossover event with then running Turtles comic. Sadly this crossover ended with the destruction of the Mutanimals and they were never to be seen again. That is until the newest run of the Turtles being published by IDW comics. However this new Mutanimals group has a lot more edge and a lot less cheese then their 90’s counterparts.
The new group consists of 5 members. The leader is Hob an alley cat who was captured and mutated by Stockgen Industries as a lab experiment. Then there’s Slash (some of you Turtles fans may recognize him as long time recurring character) who is also a former lab experiment that has escaped to freedom. The remaining 3: Mondo Gecko (hey this guy looks familiar), Herman the Hermit Crab and Pigeon Pete, were actually created by Hob with the help of a kidnapped scientist. These mutants have banded together to form a sort of mutant rights vigilante group. They strive to unite all mutants and keep any humans from using them as experiments or slaves.
Which about covers the basics. So lets get into the actual reviews shall we? (Warning! There are some basic plot spoilers for each issue below. Skip the first paragraph under each picture if you don’t want to know anything about the plot.)
The first issue finds our group of vigilantes tracking down and trying to recover Pigeon Pete and the scientist Lindsey Baker (the one who helped create the new Mutanimals) after they are kidnapped by a mysterious group. This leads them to a lab dealing with mutant research and run by an organization known only as Null. There are a few secrets that they uncover but the issue ultimately leaves them with more questions than answers.
What I really enjoy about this first issue is that it begins to set up a very different dynamic for the Mutanimals than there is for the Turtles. Unlike the Turtles, the Mutanimals are a much messier group. They take bigger risks and tend to go in first with a lot less planning. Plus the character of Hob is definitely an anti-hero. Hob’s time as a lab experiment has left him very bitter and angry with humans. And he is not shy about doing whatever it takes to achieve his goals even if it means harming people. So although there is a clear sense that these guys want to do good, they go about it in much murkier ways. To use a comic analogy, they have more of a Punisher type feel to them. Hopefully the writers continue to develop that sort of dynamic as the series goes on. The anti-hero has always been one of my favorites and it can be taken to some interesting places story wise.
My only real complaint about the first issue is that the three Mutanimals that Hob has created (Herman, Mondo & Pete) don’t get much character development. At this point they’re pretty much one note characters without any kind of depth or background to them. But it is only the first issue and one would hope as the series goes on they’ll get more opportunities to develop themselves.
After rescuing Mutant Man the second issue has our group trying to locate and free any more mutants that the Null Group may be holding. We are introduced to the leader of the Null group, a mysterious red woman with horns. However in their zeal to rescue 2 captives the Mutanimals are lead into a trap. Only Slash and Mondo escape which leaves them as the only hopes of rescue for everyone.
The second issue continues to deliver on all the high points of the first issue as well as fix some of it’s shortcomings. Throughout the issue each of the Mutanimals had at least a brief section of dialogue that helped flesh out their characters and make them feel a little less one dimensional. Even the art seemed to pick up a bit as it feels as though the artist is getting a bit more comfortable with how they want to portray the characters. Also the tension between Slash and Hob is definitely picking up as the two clashed over ideals and how they want to go about helping mutants and how they should deal with humans. It definitely gives the story a little more heft.
I’m definitely excited for the series to continue as it seems to have a lot of potential not only for some great action, but also some good story telling. There’s still a lot left to learn about the current Mutanimals and the comic seems to be hinting at the addition of some new ones as well. Hopefully they continue on with the great work they’ve done so far.