This week brings us the landmark fiftieth issue of IDW’s brilliant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title. Is it good?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50
After last issue’s cliffhanger (which I did not review due to having a bone in my ear replaced… no seriously), the Turtles are about to start The Gauntlet, which basically consists of them and Shredder’s mutants beating the hell out of each other. Rock star artist Mateus Santolouco wastes no time getting down to business, rendering a brutally beautiful brawl from the very first page.
The FWOOSH sfx has never looked so cool.
This goes on for a while, juxtaposed against flashbacks (drawn by the equally talented Cory Smith) showing Splinter and Shredder during their former lives in feudal Japan. Even the best fight scenes can go on too long though, which this one almost does. Fortunately, Tom Waltz sprinkles in some nice moments to keep the momentum… then smacks you in the face and kicks you in the balls with one hell of an ending.
Is It Good?
This issue was doing just fine, but that ending really threw me. Once again, Waltz and Co. show that they are not afraid to mess with the status quo on a corporate franchise. They also give the jarring conclusion two codas that are equally poignant and chilling.
About the only thing ‘wrong’ with this issue is when the fight scenes started to drag… and that we once again got teased with seeing Leatherhead only to just get a glimpse. But it’s hard to complain about gorgeously rendered Santolouco action. Not only that, but Donatello gets to be a badass, which is something we don’t see nearly enough on any iteration of the franchise. We also get some intriguing developments with Alopex, Leonard going completely unleashed on an opponent, and what might be my favorite moment for Splinter in the entire series.
But the ending is what makes this milestone issue feel truly special. I hope Waltz doesn’t go back and change anything, because it’s great. In addition to being a worthy ‘big issue shocker’, it’s completely organic. This was what had to happen. Maybe the kid friendly cartoons/comics would have found a contrived way around it, but not here. IDW’s main series has proven once again why it’s the best piece of TMNT media going right now.