Turtle-Mania seems poised to sweep the nation once again. With a new-ish cartoon on the airwaves, a Michael Bay adaptation on the way and an excellent comic book run by IDW, the Heroes in a Half-Shell are undergoing a renaissance not unlike that of their eponymous painters and sculptors. We’re three issues into the “City Fall” arc, and to use a scientific term, shit has gotten cray-cray. All things considered though, is it good?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #24 (IDW Publishing)
For those of you just joining us: Shredder stabbed into Casey Jones’ stomach with his spiked gauntlet, leaving him on the brink of death in the hospital, and Leonardo was captured by the foot and forced to trip balls courtesy of a Kitsune-induced hex. During his hallucination, he is duped into rejecting Splinter’s teachings and instead adopting Shredder’s ultraviolent philosophies. In his vision-quest, he kills Slash using deadly force—something Splinter would obviously condemn—and even inherits Slash’s black mask as a commemoration of his zealotry.
The rest of the Turtles and Splinter go looking for Leo and find help in an unlikely place: Old Hob and Slash. There’s obvious mistrust there, but Splinter reminds the Turtles that they have no other leads about Leo’s whereabouts, so off they go trusting a pirate-eyed bipedal dog hominoid who has tried to murder their entire family on multiple occasions. Desperate times, desperate measures and all that. Hob seems to have something up his sleeve as well, as he implores the Turtles to join him in his fledgling efforts to unite mutants against humans in the much eluded to, but not really yet seen war in the streets (the Turtles comment on how something seems up, but what with Leo being kidnapped and Casey left for dead, they haven’t really had time to focus on that just yet).
This all leads to some interesting, at times pretty funny interactions between friend and foe as they’re placed in an awkward position for mutual benefit. Of course, Mikey and Slash seem to be getting along swimmingly, bonded over a candy bar:
You’re not you when you’re hungry.
The story of “City Fall” so far has been kind of all over the place; strangely paced but ultimately very enjoyable. We’ve had entire issues dedicated to one fight scene that ended up being a ruse anyway, and on the other side of the coin we’ve had an issue so jam-packed with story advancement it was a little difficult to follow along, especially for someone just jumping into the series with this arc. This issue, however, is paced beautifully and leaves you wishing you could keep reading to find out more about Leo’s fate. With Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman writing, can you really go wrong? The dialogue is sharp and keeps the reader engaged while not overshadowing the incredible art.
Mateus Santolouco does a great job creating mood and depicting all the action this issue has to offer. If I had any complaint at all it would be that the style of the Turtles seems to change seemingly issue by issue, which can be a little jarring. Even within this single story arc the style has gone from a gritty style akin to the original Mirage Turtles to a superdeformed, almost Final Fantasy sort of feel to them in later issues.
Zidane Tribal, is that you?
It’s not bad by any stretch—quite the opposite; the art is straight-up jaw-dropping at times—but like I said, it’s just a little jarring, to the point where when comparing the two styles I was almost convinced there would be some sort of a storyline reason for the change. Kevin Eastman actually handled the art on the earlier issues of the arc, which makes sense why it has more of a vintage feel to it. Santolouco’s art is still definitely marvelous to look at, and Dark Leo, when he’s finally revealed, is just a straight up badass. The action scenes are perfectly drawn and keep your eyes glued to the page.
- Pacing is back on track
- Dark Leo is a straight up badass
- Awesome action scenes
- Jarring character design direction
Is It Good?
Oh, it’s good alright. I dove into this series feet first with the “City Fall” arc and have found it an excellent jumping on point. If you’re just starting with this series, I recommend doing the same and at least starting with issue #22 (#21 is useful as well, as sort of a prelude to “City Fall”). The story isn’t exactly breaking new ground and can feel downright trope-y at times (brainwashed against your team? Dark version of a hero, complete with “dark” alternate costume? Been there done that, in just about every story ever told), but cliches exist for one simple reason: they work, and if done well it can be more enthralling than a completely original idea. That’s what’s going on here. A classic story so far told to perfection.