This is a huge issue for the franchise. I'll do my best to dance around the big spoilers, but just so you know, this is an issue you need to read for yourself. Seeing the spoiler online won't hit you the same way it does in the comic. Got it? Great! Now, let's talk about TMNT #44. This chapter presents the conclusion of General Krang's plan and it's pretty satisfying. Not only do we get some seriously fun action (I loved the sai kick and the team attack), but this arc puts Fugitoid back into the spotlight. He's been doing his own thing for quite some time now and this issue gives the classic character a gripping, standout moment. It really reminds you of all of he's been through and what kind of a character he truly is. He may no longer be organic, but has he lost his humanity? This issue does a great job giving him a chance to step up and steal the show, and that's saying a lot considering the other events that go down in the comic. It's a very well-written sequence. Sure, General Krang feels a little downplayed in the action, but it's still a total blast watching the team in action. The group attack really made me want to cheer.
Okay, here's where dancing around spoilers is going to get tough. There's one game changing moment in this issue and I think it's executed in an incredibly compelling and emotional way. The sequence had me completely absorbed and I kept wondering about how it would play out differently. Except it never did and then we're struck by something truly staggering. My jaw was dropped and I was left speechless. There's so much potential for amazing follow-up here. There, that was spoiler-free enough, right? Also, I read the solicitation after reading the issue and I strongly recommend avoiding it. Instead of thinking that a certain direction is beyond unlikely to happen, that solicit will make the powerful moment more predictable.
I love how the chapter's able to bring Krang's story to an end while also dropping some major teasers about what's to come. New alliances are built, one event is sure to have ginormous repercussions, and I really appreciated the brief bit between Karai and Splinter. Even though this brings one story to an end, you can tell the creative team is always looking forward, too. Honestly, any other team could have made this one big brawl with Krang and then called it a day. Instead, this creative team took time to focus on the bigger picture while also delivering the fan service and Krang craziness we'd expect.
Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, and Bobby Curnow put plenty of action in the story, and Cory Smith and Ronda Pattison are able to make all of the ninja and mutant mayhem look awesome. Every hit, every leap, and every impact is sold so very well. Whether it's a kick that'll make you want to exclaim, "Yeah!" or an attack that'll fill you with sadness and heartbreak, this visual team does a superb job handling all of the action and laying it all out in an immersive way. I won't spoil it, but I will say their handling of the final page makes sure it really makes an impact. The expressions -- especially one on the left -- are exactly what you'd expect them to be and it's perfect. It really pulls you into the moment and makes these characters feel like they're real and not just static images on a page.
As stunning as the big moment may be, I can't help but also think about how this will be fixed instead of continuing to be emotionally struck by it. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions, but I find it very hard to believe something like that will stick and I'm instead thinking about the ways they'll fix what just occurred. It has the potential for some great fallout, but believing it's a permanent development is tough to swallow. I mean, we're talking about a world with immortals, resurrection, magic, mutagen, alternate dimensions, and more, after all. Maybe they'll make me eat my words. I guess we'll just have to wait and see, right?
Shredder has received a ton of love in this series. The IDW team has pretty much built him up as this amazingly badass villain. It's because of that I can't but feel like he was swiftly overshadowed and downplayed in this arc (it doesn't help that the exciting cover blatantly implies his conflict with Krang isn't over just yet). I get this isn't his story, but it seems like he was cast aside way too easily, especially considering what we've previously seen him endure and how big of a role he plays in this world. He obviously shouldn't be unbeatable and unstoppable, but after all we've seen from him, I expected more. On the plus side, his story concludes with a lot of promise, so there's that.
Minor criticism: Krang's blade cut through Shredder's blade in the last issue, yet Leo was able to block an attack from the blade. Maaaaaaaaybe Leo's swords are made of a stronger material? It's not a big deal, but I couldn't help but wonder about that one.
Once again, do not read the solicitation. This doesn't impact the score, but it's worth noting.
TMNT #44's a real jaw-dropper. It's a powerful issue that's able to balance fun, plot development, and emotion equally well. All of these moments are brought to life wonderfully by Smith and Pattison, but you'd expect no less from them at this point. It's the kind of issue that's going to linger in your memory and make you wonder about what'll happen in the next issue. Sure, I have some criticisms about the story and the biggest moment, but it's a huge and ambitious issue for this franchise. Even though it wraps up one arc in a solid way, it does more than enough to build our interest in what's to come. Seriously, don't miss this one, TMNT fans. And for the love of all that's holy, don't blatantly spoil it in the comments, okay? Use spoiler blocks, people!