A blast of a preview for IDW's relaunch of one of the most iconic comic franchises of all time.


From writers Jason Aaron and Tom Waltz, & artists Chris Burnham and Gavin Smith comes the prelude for a brand new start for one of the most iconic series in all of comics with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Alpha. Featuring color art by Brian Reber and Ronda Pattison wit lettering from Nathan Widick, this issue is the starting point of the two leading series from IDW’s TMNT relaunch: the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series from Jason Aaron and Joelle Jones, and Mutant Nation by Tom Waltz and Sophie Campbell. This opening preview lays groundwork for these new titles that is both intriguing and a blast to read. Turtles fans are in for an absolute treat.

“What’s the world like without the TMNT? Since their time-spanning victory over Armaggon, the Turtles have started to pursue other interests, leaving a void in New York among humans and mutants alike. This special issue explores the effects this change has on those connected to the brothers, from Old Hob to Jennika, across the five boroughs and all the way through Mutant Island. It’s hard to tell how important someone is until they are gone.”

Writing & Plot

Both Jason Aaron and Tom Waltz have the unenviable tasks of following up the last 10+ years of TMNT comics with a fresh take with their start here in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Alpha. Fortunately, these snippets of the journey to come are both pretty great. Jason Aaron begins his run on the new main TMNT title by picking up with Donatello just after the end of the previous series. After tumbling through time, Donny’s lost in a mental fog, trying to remember who he is and where he’s from. He’s being held captive to fight for sport, and waiting for the right opportunity to break out and search for his lost brothers. This snippet of the coming story has that perfect mix of grimy darkness and genuine hope that readers expect from a TMNT comic, meaning Aaron is off to a strong start.


The meat of Alpha comes from the Mutant Nation prelude story. While Aaron’s main TMNT book is meant to be a restart point for newcomers and old readers, Mutant Nation feels more like it’s meant for longtime fans. Tom Waltz, veteran TMNT writer, pens this new series following fan-favorite characters like Old Hob and Jennika as Mutant Island starts to secure itself as an official NYC borough. Of course it can’t be simple, with some mutant monster and government agency antics popping up to get in the way of the new mini-nation establishing itself. Waltz treats this world and these characters like old friends, with their distinct personalities shining through and immediately endearing them to readers new and old. There’s a perfect blend of genuine character drama, gruesome creature-horror, and comics-specific wackiness that really sets the world of TMNT apart. Both Aaron and Waltz have scripted preludes that offer a ton of promise for their respective new series.

Art Direction

Much like the Mignolaverse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has always had a requirement that the art follows in the stylistic footsteps of original creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Alpha does just that, with Chris Burnham and Gavin Smith’s respective styles lining up with the long tradition of TMNT’s unique aesthetic while still retaining each artists’ distinct look. Chris Burnham’s heavy hatching and character design makes his entry in Aaron’s TMNT story fit in perfectly with the whole series’ aesthetic. His work really just feels like a modernized Eastman & Laird comic. Equally impressive is Gavin Smith’s work on Waltz’s Mutant Nation story, with his eye for animation and character action delivering a fantastic looking comic story. Where Burnham relies more on heavy hatching, Smith leans more on thicker lines and inks to maintain that distinct Turtles aesthetic. The color art from both Brian Reber and Ronda Pattison helps perfect the visual unity of these two stories, with their dense, rich palettes nailing that unmistakable TMNT look. Finally, Nathan Widick’s lettering finishes off the reading experience with classic approach to the dialogue, and a minimalistic look to the SFX that does the job brilliantly while blending in with the art. Overall, Alpha is a stellar looking comic in every regards. It’s a bit sad that Burnham and Smith won’t be the artists on the two actual series, but Joelle Jones and Sophie Campbell are no doubt up to the task for the future of these new TMNT comics.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Alpha is a great read on its own, and a stellar sign of what’s to come for the next era of TMNT comics. Jason Aaron and Chris Burnham’s story is a deeply compelling and slightly sad opening that will leave readers desperate for more of Donatello’s journey to get back to his brothers. Tom Waltz and Gavin Smith’s opening to Mutant Nation is a blast of a prelude aimed at the supporting cast of the last decade of TMNT stories. Be sure to grab this fantastic one-shot when it hits shelves on June 5th!

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
A blast of a preview for IDW's relaunch of one of the most iconic comic franchises of all time.Review: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: ALPHA - Back From the Sewers