I have a confession before I begin this review. The first time I ever read Mirage's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles it wasn't in the classic black and white (I didn't even know about the difference until the mid-90s). My first exposure to the first volume by Mirage were actually in the trades done by First Publishing. They had striking color and were kind of big compared to the normal sort of comic book trades out there on stands (they still are). So when I heard that current TMNT publishers, IDW, are now releasing their own colored volumes, I decided to take a peek.
TMNT: The Works Volume 2 is IDW's (more specifically Tom Smith's Scorpion Studios') attempt at a remastered, colored version of the original Mirage work. So those thinking it'll be just reprints of those First Publishing trades, think again. This is a complete overhaul that recolors each single page with a lot of pluses and one huge strike against it.
I'll start with the biggest positives. The colors match perfectly with the comic and at times do heighten the mood in the comic. For example, the fight Leonardo has with the Foot Clan in the Leonardo Micro One-Shot looks amazing and even more epic. The colors of the Foot here (red eyes and all black) are absolutely threatening. The old First Publishing collections never really bothered coloring the Foot. Here, the choice of colors is utterly imposing.
Other examples where the color just leaps out are in #9 “The Passing,” where the Turtles and Splinter have to exorcise a ninja's spirit from the body of a normal New Yorker. The scene just looks so more impactful more than it does in the original black and white, so kudos there to the colorist.
However, for all good things there is one major negative against this volume: the Shredder. I'm just gonna be blunt: the coloring job on him looks half-assed. The all black colors of his costume just do not work at all for the character, and he just looks like a ink-filled stain on the pages. I just don't understand the coloring change and it doesn't work.
[Editor's note: begin insane rant about the Shredder now.]
To those reading and saying, Zechs, it's not a big deal: it is. All the colors in the trade match the characters from the original covers save one: Shredder. Even the original cover to TMNT #10 is tainted in this collection. In the original, the Shredder was colored with some splashes of red and his non-bladed hands were flesh colored. The choices add a very dynamic costume that also distinguishes him from the rest of Foot Clan/goons.
In this trade, the cover coats every single inch of him in sickly purple color, save the exposed eye area, his helmet, and shoulder blades. The cover just looks horrible. Why would you change it? That's like changing the colored banadas of the Turtles in these volumes to multi-colored cartoon ones. If you're changing one element, change them all. If you're sticking to the original Mirage color template, STICK TO THE ORIGINAL COLOR TEMPLATE.
I have no idea why IDW went with this change, but, honestly that's the biggest problem with the entire trade, and for me, it takes me out of reading it. Sadly, it's an edge First Publishing still has over it's modern rivals in IDW. Their version of the Shredder matches the cover, is VERY imposing compared to the other Foot Clan ninjas around him, and even has extra details added to him in a splash page (I still have no idea why). In this version, I feel that all the details and design of the character is lost. The Shredder just looks like a generic Foot Ninja.
Hopefully, in future volumes, IDW will correct the slight. The Shredder parts feel awkward when you have everything else colored so well. Heck, the only time he looks properly colored is the nightmare sequence April has of him in #11. What the hell?! Why give him flesh toned color on his hands/arms there and not in his actual costume?!
That said, the modern colors do enhance the story. The pages do look more striking than they originally did in the original black & white and First Publishing Trades. Yet, to truly enjoy this trade, I had to skip #10 entirely, which is tragic for me, since of the issues in this collection have some of the best art Kevin Eastman has done on the book.
[Editor's note: end insane rant about the Shredder here.]
For hardcore TMNT fans looking for a authentically colored Shredder, try to get your hands on the First Publishing trades or wait in hope IDW fixes this in a future printing. New fans who want to read these classic stories, or fans wanting a nicely colored collection, go ahead and pick this up, but consider yourself warned about the Shredder. It pains meto focus on one detail, but I feel it's a glaring error that should be addressed. IDW ,PLEASE FIX THIS.