Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan #1 tells the story behind the ninja army lead by the Shredder through historical lecture and Master Splinter's recollection of his prior life with simple literary flashback filling in the gaps that neither could have possibly known. These truths are revealed because the turtles and their allies wish to gain any possible knowledge about their adversary and also because the Shredder wishes to restore an incredibly mystical power to his followers.
I went into this book skeptical of how it would turn out. I have been really impressed by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ongoing series and the various mini-series installations to date. The only thing I found hard to digest was the annual, which read like a Legion of Super-Heroes of thugs, spending every panel and every page introducing a new villain. What I've been impressed with the most is how the mini-series tend walk the tight rope between giving you too little useful information (seemingly unimportant and disconnected from the main story) and giving you too much useful information (making it so you need to read the mini-series in order to understand the main story). These books are written incredibly well. Normally, I'd be skeptical that the writers can continue walking that tight rope with the bomb that is dropped at the end of this first issue which will definitely affect the main story in many ways, but after the flawless delivery of the Fugitoid story among others I trust that these guys know what they're doing.
Mateus Santolouco's art is really impressive. For a ninja-based back-story, the Manga-style drawing works fantastically. My only problem is that the turtles themselves do not look as good. But the people look great, especially in the flashbacks.
It is very difficult to read this issue and not reveal the ending. I just want to talk about it. What I can say is that this issue teases a great source of power that a shape-shifting ninja delivers to the foot soldiers in the distant past. At the very end of the issue, in what felt almost like a really good episode of LOST, the source of that power is revealed. I think the repercussions of this one panel are likely to define where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics proceed from this moment forward. It will add excitement to this year, but also to the entire run.
The book wasn't flawless, but it was awfully close. Give it a read.