COMIC SERIES: IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
WRITERS/ARTISTS: Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman/Mateus Santolouco, Corey Smith
Master Splinter and the Turtles continue their face-off against Master Shredder and his chosen Foot-Warriors in the Gauntlet, with the hope that they can finally put an end to their centuries long feud.
So after four years of build up, we have finally arrived at the climax of Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz’s main plot-line for this IDW series. It has been a long road, but the journey has been one filled to the brim with action, humour, drama and tragedy (which are not easy to balance, but the Writers have done wonders with this series over it’s four year run so far.) and here we are, hoping that this climactic battle between the Heroes and their main Villain will live up to the past forty Nine Issues.
And the answer is…..a resounding ‘Yes!’
This is the climax that I was hoping for, a great big and bloody battle between the two sides that not only closes the door on the long running feud between Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki, but also opens another to what comes next for the series (which it does really well in it’s teases).
All of the fights in this explosive, double-sized Issue are jaw-dropping to look at, from Raph and Mikey vs Rocksteady and Bebop (I loved how the Brothers got the two idiots to keep hitting each other), to Splinter vs Shredder. They are all excellent, but also far more violent than what we have had in the past (even that moment between Donnie and the sledgehammer was not that violent, with it being stylishly shown with shadows on the wall), but before anyone thinks that I am going to criticise it…I am not. In fact I welcome this, because it was quite clear when I started reading this series a few years back ( I was a late starter to this series, but was immediately hooked once I read the first issue) that it was not meant for the younger fans of the franchise, who already have enough catered to them.
Now the battles themselves are far longer too, which for any other comic series could have been a problem as readers could might find themselves getting bored with the action over story aspect. But once again the Writers know just how to give us that perfect balance between those two elements by having the fights intertwined with flashback segments that delve more deeper into the relationship between both Yoshi and Saki. Now throughout the series so far, we have seen the rivalry between the two Ninja Masters which ultimately lead to the pair becoming enemies. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out in this 50th Issue that the two were once childhood friends, who only became rivals due to their differing beliefs despite them both being flawed Men and more similar than they either would have recognised on their own. This added a mental and philosophical layer to the battle between these two leaders (something only this iteration could do, since I doubt any of the kid-friendly versions would dare attempt to), one that ended with Splinter defeating Shredder in blindingly fast fashion, shocking the latter into an epiphany of just where his hunger for power and control had ultimately led him.
It was satisfying to see Saki come to terms with that and rekindle the friendship that he and Yoshi used to have, before committing ‘Seppuku’ with his old friend’s assistance. We then get two more surprises as firstly, Splinter accepts leadership of the Foot Clan and then Mikey leaving the group and once more changing the status-quo (something Eastman and Waltz are certainly masters of by now, considering the amount of surprises we have had throughout this series) once more, as he does not like the direction that his family appear to be heading (this is not the first time he has shown distaste for his Father’s choices).
We also get some tantalising teases for what’s to come in future instalments with an exchange between Alopex and Kitsune, as well as another glimpse at Leatherhead and a tease that General Krang may have had a hand…or tentacle, in Yoshi and his sons reincarnation (if the final flashback is anything to go by. There are certainly exciting times to come in the future with this amazing series and I look forward to seeing what the next fifty issues bring.
Now art-wise, this is yet another feast for the eyes as both Mateus Santolouco and Corey Smith lend their talents to this instalment. The former handling the present day segments and the latter, the flashbacks in feudal Japan, with both parts complementing each other perfectly. Also Santolouco’s work really brings the fights between Mutant and Man to life, even the more violent aspects (which again, I certainly welcome as it harks back to the early days of this franchise). This is a series that has never lost quality in it’s visuals, even back when Dan Duncan was their main artist. The comic’s art simply evolved and got better (as did it’s writing, obviously).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is simply one of the best comics available, quite possibly one of the best ever. It is certainly the best iteration of the franchise and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who has ever liked the Heroes in a half-shell, as it is a must read!