IDW Publishing’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series” line is self contained stories that propel the plot of the main TMNT ongoing series, often introducing new characters into the continuity. They’re prime jumping on points for the new Turtles universe and this seventh “Micro-Series” installment featuring April O’Neil by Barbara Randall Kesel and drawn by Marley Zarcone is no different. The issue had potential — with April in the spotlight and debuting a fan favorite character, but overall it fell flat, squandering an opportunity to show readers a more layered look at Miss O’Neil.
Akin to the original 1984 TMNT series, in the new IDW universe April is a woman of science with no microphones or Channel 6 News vans anywhere to be seen. She does don a yellow jumpsuit at the end, but it was irrelevant to her character and more of a situational convenience, which highlights the disappointment of the issue — April comes off as a benefactor of good luck as opposed to skill with too many unbelievable things going her way.
She’s on a mission to find the Turtle Tracker, a device that caused the Turtles all sorts of chaos in the ongoing series, but ends up learning the dark, twisted plans StockGen has for the Mutagen — the ooze which transformed the Turtles into anthropomorphs. These plans were previously unknown to the characters but not the reader. It felt off when the Turtles didn’t put up an argument to accompany April in finding the Turtle Tracker as Donnie in particular has been splitting his shell over attaining it. Something this important — the device which is responsible for destroying their sewer home and abducting Splinter — shouldn’t be glossed over this easily by the four brothers. Yet without much of a debate they allow April to go in and extract it on her own.
All of a sudden April’s a stealthy ninja infiltrating StockGen, and while she has been “training” with Casey, we’ve never seen her practice the art of invisibility, so it comes from out of nowhere. Even just a panel or two showing April training with Splinter or Leo would make the scene more believable. I caution bringing up the Archie “Turtles Adventures” run from the late ’80s/early ’90s, but they did April right in that series, progressing her character to where she became an adept sword slinger. I was hoping for something similar here.
In an effort to evade capture April confronts one of Krang’s Rock Soldiers, narrowly escaping through a ridiculous stroke of luck. In the fray, the Soldier is tossed against a tank of Mutagen, shattering it, causing the ooze to leak onto the Soldier. This raises the question — are the Rock Soldiers immune to Mutagen? I hope this isn’t an editorial oversight and is actually setting up a Super Rock Soldier or something down the line. That would be cool, but if it was an oversight, that’s a pretty big one.
Zarcone’s artwork is different from the previous six “Micro” stories in that it’s similar in style to what Dan Duncan is doing over in the main TMNT ongoing. I’m conflicted over it as the art looks rushed, which is surprising because in the back of the issue Zarcone has a number of TMNT sketches displayed which are far superior to any panel or page in the actual issue. The sketches are detailed and energetic — mainly with the look of the Turtles where they’re warty and spotty. It looks great, but in the issue they’re washed out, flat as the lost texture and detail on their bodies is a total bummer. Zarcone draws a beautiful April, too, and she nicely captured her realistic physique. Again though, the sketches in the back show much more detail and it’s obvious the coloring washed out many of Zarcone’s lines. Similarly, the TMNT aren’t colored individually except for Mikey which is tough to get over.
The character who made their first appearance saved this one-shot but unfortunately took the focus off of April, completely upstaging her in her own issue. As a result, the whole thing felt like a device to get this guy into the new continuity as opposed to advancing April’s character. Still, I’m pumped to see what will be done with him — a fanboy smile lit up my face when he grabbed a little palm tree from a turtle tank before making a full fledged appearance.
Overall the “Micro-Series” issues have been solid reads, providing self contained stories with significant impact on the main ongoing title while still being accessible for new readers. While this “Micro” issue is worth reading for the first appearance it contains, it does little to advance April’s character and does not live up to its predecessors.