The "golden age" of the turtles was over and with it the focus began to drift. The Shredder has returned and the Turtles have retreated to rural Massachusetts. Eastman and Laird took turns writing and plotting on the subsequent issues and the quality definitely suffered.
Volume three collects issues 12, 14, 15, 17, 19-21 and also includes annotations by Kevin Eastman and Peter Liard. Silly me, I thought the "ultimate" collections would include all of the issues, but apparently it means only the ones worked on by the creators. I don't know if this is to the comic's detriment or benefit.
Before each story blended into the next and it seemed like well plotted tales, now each of the issues are throwaway bullshit tales that don't build the mythos or the world of the turtles in any respect. These stories weren't much fun and some we're quite a chore to get through. In fact issue 15, which deals with the return of some old time superheroes, has some of the worst art I've ever seen in a professional comic. I have xeroxed comics done by teenagers with better looking art.
But it's what you have to wade through in order to reach the "good" story at the end of the book, “Return to New York”, and the Turtles confrontation with the resurrected Shredder. How the character comes back is a little silly, but no more so than how any other comic hero or villain returns, so it's easy to forgive. What interests me is the lack of regard the creators had for their signature villain. The one who is most closely defined with the Turtles, granted this is mostly becuase of the popularity of the cartoon, but I was surprised when I read Laird’s views on the Shredder,
“In truth, though many TMNT fans who became fans via the first animated series see Shredder as a REALLY important part of an ongoing, long-running battle with the Turtles, I don't think Kevin or I ever did. Yes, he was an important part of their history, and they probably would not have come into existence without his involvement in their world (or more accurately Splinter's world)... but that's about it. Other than bringing Shredder back for "Return to New York" (and the few issues preceding that set that arc up), I never missed him in any of the other TMNT books I worked on.”
The action, and it is almost all action, is some of the best in the comic's run. Brutal, fast, no quarter given to the enemy. All three issues, despite varying in layout, flow together like a waterfall of violence and revenge.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.