The conclusion to the excellent City Fall arc is finally upon us. All the story elements that have been weaving and clashing finally run together like a wheel of lit fuses, leading to an explosive confrontation between multiple factions. Is it good?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #28 (IDW Publishing)
Step right up. This issue feature some of the Turtles fights of the decade: Splinter vs. Shredder and Leonardo vs. his brothers (and himself). Meanwhile, Casey violently works out his daddy issues while Old Hob and Slash kick all types of Foot Clan ass.
However the appearance of two classic characters from the first TMNT cartoon ended up being the main focus of the issue’s action. When Bebop and Rocksteady showed up at the end of issue number #26, you probably had one of two reactions:
1. A squeal of late 80’s/early 90’s glee.
2. An urge to suppress your gag reflex over the introduction of unneeded comic relief.
But to scripter Tom Waltz’s credit, he keeps the perfect tone and balance for the bumbling duo that was established by Ben Bates and Dustin Weaver in the villains’ micro series. There’s no doubt that the pair are dumb as rocks, but they’re also dangerously unpredictable forces of nature who are capable of inflicting immense amounts of chaos and destruction.
“Whether it’s by our weapons, our fists, or aggressive toy marketing, you will get your ass handed to you.”
Waltz also continues to perfectly demonstrate Karai’s (very justified) resentment towards Grandpa Shredder overlooking her without every devolving into whining territory. By the end of the story, she has been shown to be an even stronger and deadlier character than we’d probably given her credit for.
The handling of the resolution to Leo’s brainwashing is a bit clunky, but it works… especially at the end of the issue with a very poignant and heartbreaking scene. I don’t think anyone expected a major status quo change like Leo permanently becoming a villain, but things definitely won’t be the same for the Turtle family after this story.
On the flip side of that family conflict, Shredder finally manages to seem much more like a ruthless leader and less of an insufferable asshole, particularly with regards to how he treats those of his same blood (and the motivations for his behavior).
The pencils and coloring aren’t nearly as sharp as they had been in previous issues, but Maeteus Santolouco’s artwork is still an incredible visual treat. The rushed look could be due to the massive amount of action that takes place, but the kinetic energy in each frame is worth it. You can almost feel the kicks and punches landing, especially during the showdown between Casey and his newly reborn-as-super villain father.
Someone is so grounded when he gets home…
Is It Good?
About the only part of the story that doesn’t make sense is one that should have added a great deal to it. Remember what I said about the Bebop and Rocksteady stand alone issue establishing a perfect tone for the duo in this universe? That’s exactly what the villain microseries was meant do: Give you added layers and insights into the characters. But not everyone reads those books (even though they are making a huge mistake by passing them up). If you are one of those very sad and misguided people, then Alopex’s actions at one point in the issue may cause you to have a brain aneurysm. There is one very small hint about what the fox will do from the previous issue, but her actions and their motivations feel like completely come out of nowhere…unless you’ve read the character’s excellent microseries issue. Then it makes perfect sense.
- A story with a strong start ends with an even better, high impact conclusion.
- Characters don’t just go back to the status quo from before; evolution and development happens on a major scale.
- Bebop and Rocksteady actual seem cool and somewhat scary (instead of goofy and stupid).
- Artwork/coloring not as crisp as previous issues.
- A couple scenes won’t make sense unless you’re reading the TMNT Villains Microseries.
But aside from that little story glitch and some concerns about the crispness of the art/coloring, there is a whole lot to like here. A violently brutal story ends up having an even more violent and brutal ending. All sides walk away having lost something, and the real winners are not who you would expect. There will be consequences and questions that not only provide some fantastic future storyline opportunities, but also move many of the characters forward to new behaviors, allegiances, and views.
In many cases, major storylines that start out strongly like this one did fizzle out at the end. But City Fall sprinted to the end and gave us not only a great conclusion, but opened endless possibilities for the road ahead.