After last month’s stellar issue, the Turtles are faced with a brand new enemy/highly marketable piece intellectual property. Is it good?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #36 (IDW Publishing)
After a bizarre, out of context flashback, we get a touching scene of Casey and April’s parents bonding. Meanwhile, Leonardo and Splinter are doing the same, finally getting close again after the devastating events in City Fall. Then things get weird…
I don’t mean that in a bad way, but not in a completely good one, either. The Rat King shows up and does battle with both of them in a manner that is simultaneously fascinating and confusing.
Instead of sending in an army of rats (which admittedly would have been a tad predictable), he causes both Leo and Splinter to hallucinate that they are fighting each other. While this is happening, he rhymes like Dr. Suess on a bad acid trip, eats rats (!), and gives the reader brief glimpses into his past.
The ending to the fight is even more bizarre, leaving us with two cliffhangers and a villain with a power set that far greater than his other incarnations in the TMNT media franchise.
Is It Good?
This issue felt like a Twin Peaks episode. The atmosphere and direction were fascinating, but I’d really like to know what the hell is going on. Vagueness can be a great cheat to hook the reader to a plot, but too much of it can oversaturate a story to the point that the theme is lost. That came dangerously close to happening here.
The extent of the Rat King’s powers, his motivations, and his end game are all left up in the air by the time he disappears from the issue. The revelation that the encounter gives Leo is also a bit of a stretch, although I trust Tom Waltz to give us a good explanation.
On art duties, Manteus Santolouco is teamed up with Mark Torres, who draws the Rat King’s flash back scenes. Both artists ended up creating some of the very best work we’ve had in all 36 issues of the series. Combined with Waltz’s usual knack for combining action with great storytelling, it’s more than enough to forgive all the dangling plot threads…for now.