Indie Comics Spotlight: Batman TMNT Adventures #1, Ether #1, and Namesake #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Batman TMNT Adventures #1


1

“I want you to tell all your friends about me.”

Batman has a penchant for going it alone. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the exact opposite, relying on the brotherly bonds to get them through any and all situations. Bringing them all together for a singular purpose is a good bet to be interesting. And it is in Batman TMNT Adventures #1 from IDW Publishing. The issue is written by Matthew K. Manning, illustrated by Jon Sommariva, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Leonardo Ito, and lettered by Shawn Lee.

When villains start to mysteriously escape Arkham, Batman seeks to track them down. What happens when he discovers that they have left Gotham completely…and entered the TMNT’s New York City?

Manning takes a very lighthearted approach in Batman TMNT Adventures #1 by giving the characters an all-ages appeal. The Turtles have (for the most part) always been a lot more kid-friendly than Batman, and Manning does a good job of finding a balance in likability between to the two franchises as something that meshes well. The dialogue is extremely entertaining and Manning manages to make in-jokes for the two franchises work and keep the mood light and spends most of the issue jumping back and forth between Batman and the Turtles to set up the overarching plot and reason for a crossover. The jumping is slightly jarring at times, but it does keep both paths moving at a relatively even pace.

Batman: The Animated Series is quite possibly one of the greatest cartoons ever and a lot of that had to do with the stylized, art deco approach to the show. Sommariva apes that approach very well, infusing the book with a throwback mentality that invokes all the good memories many have of the series. His Batman and friends are slightly more cartoonized to keep up with the more Nickelodeon look of the Turtles, but it all works. Parsons inks are sharp and accent Sommariva’s very angular and blocky style well. Ito’s colors are bright and bold, preventing the book from looking too dour.

Batman TMNT Adventures #1 is a breezy yet enjoyable crossover between the Caped Crusader and the Heroes in a Halfshell. Batman is doing his own investigation of Arkham Asylum’s missing inmates while the Turtles have their own impending problem to deal with. Manning’s script is paced well and rife with homage to the two franchises. Sommariva’s artwork is fun and airy, providing plenty of levity for the series. Batman TMNT Adventures #1 should definitely be checked out if you’re into really fun crossovers or are just big fans of either of the franchises.

Batman TMNT Adventures #1 is in stores now.

Ether #1


2

“And every time, I’m a little more prepared.”

Getting away from reality for a vacation is always welcome. It alleviates many of the responsibilities associated with the day-to-day and gives you the chance to just relax. For some, that relaxation is maybe a beach, but for Boone Dias of Ether #1 from Dark Horse Comics, that relaxation involves solving crimes in a magical realm. The issue is written by Matt Kindt and illustrated/lettered by David Rubin.

A science-minded adventurer gets mixed up in the mysteries of a fantasy world in this charming new adventure. Boone Dias is an interdimensional explorer, a scientist from Earth who has stumbled into great responsibility. He’s got an explanation for everything, so of course the Ether’s magical residents turn to him to solve their toughest crimes. But maybe keeping the real and the abstract separate is too big a job for just one man.

Kindt pretty much lets the reader know from the outset that Ether #1 is going to be slightly unconventional. The dialogue exchanges between Boone and Glum the Gatekeeper help move the narrative along in a buddy cop fashion. That narrative is one of mystery and magic as Kindt intertwines the two in a way that feels natural and works exceptionally well. Boone is tasked with investigating quite possibly the biggest crime the Ether has sought his experience for and Kindt characterizes Boone as a man who feeds off of the attention because he’s rather lonely everywhere else. It’s a pretty powerful juxtaposition in that Kindt reminds the reader that sometimes you’re happier in a completely foreign place because compared to your normal routine, it’s just better.

Capturing the effervescence of the Ether is Rubin’s artwork, which does so in a way that’s very fanciful. He illustrates the beings of the Ether with enough creativity that they look like magical creatures, but then he also works in more human mannerisms such as smoking a cigar to ground the book in some reality. The empty gutters frame each panel well and Rubin largely plays it safe with the layout – save for a few call-outs here and there. Some of the panels get pretty crowded with all the dialogue bubbles though, but it’s not so overwhelming that it detracts from the overall enjoyment. Rubin’s colors are also pale and almost washed-out in a way that puts the reader in a psychedelic mindset.

Ether #1 thrives on glorifying the abstract – something that’s relative to everyone. Boone is happiest in the Ether and would gladly give up his normal life to stay there if he could because the grass is always greener on the other side. Kindt’s narrative is engaging and entertaining, eschewing the more serious side of a whodunnit for delightful character exchanges. Rubin’s artwork is vague in a way that’s indicative of the atmosphere in the Ether. Ether #1 is a lot of fun and an intriguing first issue.

Ether #1 is in stores now.

Namesake #1


3

“We’ve got another one. Who can respond?”

New Year’s Eve. Mardi Gras. Burning Man. These are all events that bring together plenty of people in a single area with varying intentions as to how best to celebrate what brought them there in the first place. The big difference between those events and Earth overlapping with Ektae as it does in Namesake #1 from BOOM! Studios is that only the latter involves Ektae magic. The issue is written by Steve Orlando, illustrated by Jakub Rebelka, and lettered by Thomas Mauer.

Once every seven years, Earth overlaps with Ektae, a world where alchemy is not pseudo-science but the driving force of industry. For seven days, Ektae breaches our world, bringing dirty magic and ideas. Jordan Molossus was born of Earth and Ektae and abandoned by both, but when he receives two cast iron urns containing his estranged father’s’ ashes, he’ll leave everything behind to put his parents to rest before Ektae disappears for another seven years.

From the outset, it’s very clear that Orlando is writing something pretty unique and strange at the same time. Ektae is a world that Earth acknowledges and readily contends with, making it something of a burden on the planet – even if Ektae’s inhabitants are having a lot of fun. And Jordan is a peculiar protagonist in that he’s part of both worlds and Orlando uses that to his advantage in terms of giving the book a broader sense of continuity. A good chunk of the issue is spent crashing through some of Jordan’s past is pertains to his present and building him up to be something of a wild character. Orlando parlays that freedom into something more dangerous by the end as Jordan proves he’s got plenty of experience to fight his way through tough situations.

Rebelka illustrates the characters with establishing character shots. There are many panels where Rebelka will have a character essentially staring right at the reader as if they’re addressing them and it helps draw the reader a bit more into the event where Ektae breaches Earth. While the characters get plenty of attention, the settings and backgrounds are left a little vaguer; it’s enough to set the scene, though. A couple of pages at the beginning though are pretty clever, in that Rebelka blankets the panels with icons of hedonism to reinforce the insanity that is the Ektae intrusion. The colors are bright and vivid, drawing upon neons to further the narrative that the part is pretty crazy.

Namesake #1 is aiming for a lot. Jordan is someone familiar with both Earth and Ektae, but he’s embarking on a quest to get even more familiar with his lost family history. Orlando’s narrative is a little erratic at times because he’s cramming a lot into the first issue, but eventually it settles down and looks to be headed in the right direction. Rebelka’s artwork is a great example of a world dealing with a sudden rush of chaos. Namesake #1 has a lot of potential and seems content to explore that potential through the eyes of a complicated – yet unknown – lead character.

Namesake #1 is in stores now.


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