Some casual fans may think TMNT's just a fun book that's loaded with action and humor. Well, IDW's series is consistently proving otherwise and this latest story is being handled so well. Instead of having huge, game changing developments appearing on a frequent basis, the team is focusing on character and how they're responding to the bigger picture. It's not simply the team finding a threat, taking it down, and working towards saving the day. It's far more complex than that and they're juggling quite a few arcs all at once. In lesser hands, something like this could feel convoluted or unfocused. Instead, everything is moving forward and feels connected.
It's a bit of a disappointment we haven't chimed in on Shredder on General Krang in a while (to be fair, we do get updates on the latter from Fugitoid), but the focus on these characters makes up for that and then some. There's terrific displays of personality and this book is avoiding cliches while also surpassing my expectations. It's aiming to give these characters layers and it's most certainly succeeding. Everything in this issue seems to have a bigger purpose and it feels like no page is wasted.
While Michelangelo, Pigeon Pete, and Bebop and Rocksteady obviously offer more lighthearted laughs, Harold's abrasive and off-putting personality makes him amazingly entertaining and even surprisingly likable. The book may be focused on developing these characters and making sure there's progress with the plot, but it never loses sight of making sure readers are also having fun. Even though the scene with April's dad is seemingly implying something bigger is going on with him, I couldn't help but laugh out loud when he was screaming about how he needs coffee. We can all relate to that, right?
Artist Mateus Santolouco and colorist Ronda Pattison continue to earn my praise and respect. When it's there, the focus on making the locations immersive is truly impressive. The sidewalks are cracked, the walls are damaged or vandalized, and there's a surprising amount of detail given to the buildings in the distance. And of course the character work remains superb. These individuals never feel bland or static; you can always get a good read on how they're feeling or what they intend to do. Meanwhile, Pattison's coloring always manages to give the characters more depth and she adds more excitement when the action begins. Even something as simple as smashing an ATM is packed with energy because of how the impact and surrounding area is colored.
The problem that often occurs with group battles is we never get a fluid look at what's going down. We see panels here and there of characters clashing, but there's no real sense of progression and it's just not as exciting when it pans out to focus on the greater whole instead of the more intimate encounters. Unfortunately, that's what happened here. Santolouco and Pattison make it look cool, but it feels like a missed opportunity for something seriously thrilling. The cover's so exhilarating, yet that energy doesn't really transfer into the actual scene.
I understand Master Splinter's an honorable character and he feels compelled to remain true to his word, but it's a little confusing that he chooses to honor his deal with Hob even after seeing the mutant is a genocidal maniac. Perhaps there's more going on in Splinter's head that we've yet to see, but it's a little odd to see him seem so confident in supporting Hob after what the character just stated.
Thanks to a thoroughly talented art team, the environment's feel alive, so it's disappointing to have them vanish so frequently and often be replaced by shades of blue. I understand that's likely due to a tight schedule, but when Satnolouco's background work is so detailed, you can't help but notice when it frequently disappears.
IDW's TMNT consistently proves it's a great, character-driven, and fun series. But if you've been reading along, you already knew that, didn't you? Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, and Bobby Curnow are doing incredible work with this franchise. They're taking so many familiar elements and themes but adding just enough to make it feel new, intriguing, and totally engrossing. The fact they have such a talented art team bringing their script to life doesn't hurt, either. Month after month, this series is excellent. Even if you're just a casual fan of the heroes in a half shell, I strongly suggest giving it a shot.