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Exclusive Interview: Paul Allor Talks TMNT: UTROM EMPIRE

The writer tells us what the upcoming mini-series is all about and much, much more.

IDW is on a roll with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so you can bet we're beyond thrilled to hear the publisher has even more plans for the radical dudes and their universe. This January, the first issue of TMNT: UTRON EMPIRE will land and it's written by Paul Allor and illustrated by Andy Kuhn. It'll be a three-part mini-series and we had the opportunity to ask the writer some questions about it. What can we expect? Will we see the return of any classic characters? Who's his favorite turtle? Read on to get the answers to these questions and a lot more!

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COMIC VINE: While 'City Fall' is focusing on the heroes in a half shell and the Foot Clan, a lot is brewing with Krang, Fugitoid and Stockman. Can you tell us the basics of what this mini-series is all about and, even though they're busy elsewhere, can we expect the Ninja Turtles to make an appearance?

PAUL ALLOR: Utrom Empire is a story that charts the epic rise and fall of Krang’s people. We’ve seen bits and pieces of this before, but now you’ll have a much more complete, fleshed-out idea of just what happened to bring the Utrom race to its current, diminished state.

At the same time, we’ll tell a story of intrigue and betrayal, taking place over the course of one night on Burnow Island! This half of our story will feature the villainous Krang and Baxter Stockman, with Fugitoid, the kindly scientist, trapped in between them.

And yes, on top of all that, we’ll also be checking in to a certain Northampton farm, to see what everyone’s favorite ectotherms are up to.

As you can tell, this is a big story, with an epic sweep. It has action, it has excitement, it has intrigue. It even has space battles. In short: it’s going to be awesome.

CV: Reading the previous material is obviously recommended, but is this also completely new reader friendly?

PA: Absolutely. I think it’s important that any new mini-series be new-reader friendly. It definitely builds off of prior events in IDW’s TMNT books, but we give you all the information you need in a nice, friendly, non-info-dumpy way.

CV: Will the events taking place over in 'City Fall' play a role in this mini-series?

PA: Well, by the time this comes out, we’ll have moved on from City Fall and into Northampton. But to answer your question: to an extent. In large part this story is about what’s happening over there with those “other guys,” but there are definitely some ripples from City Fall. Stockman, in particular, is in a bit of a different place emotionally, following the destruction of the Stockgen labs in City Fall. So we’ll be playing with that a bit.

CV: What's your favorite part about writing Krang and Stockman?

PA: That’s a great question, Gregg. Krang and Stockman are very different kinds of villains, and that’s central to our story. Stockman is brilliant, but he’s also a breathtakingly amoral man. He’s focused entirely on his own wants and desires. Everything he does, he does for Baxter Stockman.

Krang can be every bit as ruthless, but in contrast to Stockman, he does have a higher purpose and a twisted sense of nobility. There is a reason for his actions, outside of his own self-interests. Remember, Krang is keeping the very last members of his race in stasis, and is working desperately to create a new home for them, to prevent their extinction. That is a noble goal! But the way he goes about it is extraordinarily evil.

So it’s interesting to take such different types of villains, and watch them bounce off each other a bit, with Fugitoid in between.

CV: What's the biggest challenge behind making a mini-run which primarily revolves around the bad guys?

PA: Honestly, I tend to treat bad guys the same as anyone else. A great character is a great character, no matter how he’s perceived. But I won’t trot out the hoary old trope about how everyone’s the hero in their own mind. I think some villains know they’re the villain, and revel in it. Baxter Stockman definitely fits that category.

CV: Any chance you can tease us a bit about the Technodrome and whether it'll become operational?

PA: There is practically no chance whatsoever that I will tell you anything about when the Technodrome spools up. But Krang has put so many resources into the Technodrome… it’d be a shame if it didn’t become operational at some point, wouldn’t it?

CV: Will this mini-series see the introduction of new characters?

PA: Well, the cover to issue number two pretty much answers that question, doesn’t it? We’re bringing in the Triceratons, baby! The dashing figure on the cover of issue 2 is IDW’s iteration of Zog. And as you can see, he is pretty much a total bad-ass. Zog is an irreverent, swashbuckling soldier, who makes things very difficult for the Utrom Empire. He was a ton of fun to write, and I can’t wait to see what people think of him.

We’ll also meet several new Utrom characters in this mini. We’ve heard about the High Council that worked with Quanin, and now we’ll meet some of his political rivals on the council. And we’ll briefly meet several other Utroms as well. Utrom scientists, Utrom soldiers, Utrom bureaucrats, Utrom explorers, Utrom families, Utrom lifestyle coaches.*

Utrominon was a rich and complex place, composed mainly of decent, peace-loving folks like you and I. One of the things we’re going to do with this book is show you the other side of the Utrom Empire; the decent Utroms who were swept up by Quanin’s thirst for power, and saw their way of life destroyed because of it.

*We will not actually meet any Utrom lifestyle coaches.

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CV: IDW's work with the franchise has been stellar, so what's it like being able to craft a new mini-series for such a superb run?

PA: It’s both incredibly exciting and incredibly intimidating. I’ve gushed in previous interviews about how much the TMNT universe means to me, and what a profound impact it had on me as a writer, at a very young age. The IDW turtles books are such extraordinarily good, high-quality storytelling. I’m honored and humbled to be a small part of it. Sometimes I’ll be working on a script when I’ll suddenly realize just what it is I’m doing, and a wave of giddiness will wash over me. It’s awesome.

CV: What's it like seeing artist Andy Kuhn bring your script to life? What was the collaboration process like?

PA: I haven’t actually seen much of this yet. Andy is working on the covers right now, and even seeing those come together is just incredible. I’m such a tremendous admirer of his work -- it’s so dynamic and well-composed and just plain fun. I’m thrilled to be working with him.

CV: Please forgive me, but I just have to ask: who's your favorite turtle? Also, what's your favorite TMNT movie and animated series?

PA: Favorite Turtle: Raphael

Favorite TMNT Movie: The first one

Favorite Animated Series: Ten-year-old Paul would be shocked and horrified that I’m not going with the 1980’s version. But I’m gonna have to say, the current Nickelodeon show. It is just superb.

CV: If you could promote UTROM EMPIRE in 5 words or less, what would you say?

PA: Island intrigue; epic space adventure.

And if I had a sixth word: Triceratons!

TMNT: UTROM EMPIRE #1 goes on sale January 29, 2014.