Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead!
IDW has been promoting this story line for the Turtles in a big way. So does the story match the hype?
First off, I’ve been with this comic since issue #1. I’ve gotten all the micro-series and have eagerly anticipated the arrival of Mateus Santolouco to the main book. Santolouco just finished art and story duties for the Secret Origin of the Foot Clan miniseries that recently concluded.
The art in that book put the art in the main series to shame. Thankfully, the right move was made and put Santolouco on this issue and on main art duties for the foreseeable future. This issue has had the benefit of some fantastic art to match an equally impressive first issue of a major storyline.
Yes, the writing team put together a really well-done setup issue for the series. We have heroes in peril, a military mastermind showing his knowledge of the battlefield, and some personality infused into the Turtles that is great to see come alive on the page.
As with any good story, we need a good antagonist and a good protagonist to move the story forward. There are two stars in the story who stand out in those two roles for me. The first is Shredder. The man just comes across as this brilliant strategist against the combined might of the Turtles and his old enemy Splinter. When the story was promoted as Shredder making a stand, he certainly does here. (In case you were following some of the rumors regarding Shredder up against a Turtles teammate…let me just say that a homage is made to an old Marvel Comics impalement scene, and it truly comes across as a bit of surprise despite knowing about the rumors beforehand.)
The other character that gets his moment to shine is Raphael. Throughout the series up until this issue, you could tell that Raph has some anger issues, but there wasn’t anything that made it a scary angry. In this issue, Raph gets really scary angry: to the point where the other Turtles mistake him for Slash, the humongous Turtle with an attitude and taste of extreme violence.
Raph’s anger isn’t misunderstood in this issue. It makes perfect sense, and I think he had any type of reaction to the situation that was less than what was shown on the page, I don’t know if I would have been as invested in the story. Raph believes that he lost someone that I would argue is closer to him than his brothers, and I’m glad that this loss allowed us to see a big dynamic between him and Leonardo that long time Turtle fans may have thought wasn’t going to happen in this series.
This issue just kicked the series back into the top of my buy pile. I really feel like the creative team is willing to take the series to a level that really makes you wonder if any of the characters are safe. For a while I thought it wouldn’t go there, but then I forget that this is still a creator-owned story, and it is nice to get that sense of character danger to the story. What was once just a fun read to indulge my nostalgia is now something much, much more.