What happens when a group of anthropomorphic turtles crash the family reunion of the Pantheon? I don’t know, but the answer lies within the latest issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But more importantly, is it any good? If the previous 71 issues are anything to go by, the answer is probably “yes.”
Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #72
(W) Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, and Bobby Curnow, (A) Dave Wachter, (C) Ronda Pattison
If there was ever an issue where the Benny Hill theme was an appropriate accompaniment, it is this fun-filled comedy of errors by Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Dave Wachter, and Ronda Pattison. With the Turtles’ attempt at covert reconnaissance having gone off the rails, they engage the Pantheon in a high-stakes game of hide and seek. To make matters worse, they have to rely on Baxter Stockman for help. While the TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo one-shot may have been the featured attraction of the week, this latest chapter in the TMNT saga maintains the series high standards of quality.
It’s difficult to say more about the writing of this series. With 72 issues (plus miniseries) under their belt, the team of Waltz, Eastman, and Curnow show no signs of slowing down. What has made this series so appealing is that this incarnation of the TMNT recognizable to fans of their various other properties. Whether it’s the cartoons, the live-action movies, or the original Mirage comics, this series manages to pull from each of those versions into a cohesive vision. In the space of 20 pages, the writers manage to transition seamlessly from drama to slapstick comedy to high-stakes action. It is not without its flaws. For example, the “righteous” actions of Aka fall flat, as does the Pantheon’s nerfed powers. However, at the end of the day this is a tightly written, well executed script.
Ronda Pattison’s colors are once again fantastic. There’s nothing else more to say.
In an issue that requires plenty of physical comedy, Dave Wachter’s more realistic art style (compared to other TMNT artists) is surprisingly effective. This is especially true in the case of the Toad Baron. While his brothers and sisters are chasing the Turtles around, Toad Baron helplessly watches and moans to his servants about the destruction to his home. The visual of him simply standing, pouting with his eyes bugging out, is one of the most hilarious things to come out of this issue.
As much as I personally love Wachter’s art, there are a few notable items worthy of criticism. April O’Neill looks like she’s a 45-year-old woman, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if she wasn’t supposed to be in her late teens or early 20s. Though she is only in the book for a few pages, it is a distraction that pulls readers out of the story. In addition, Wachter goes heavy on the shadowing on several characters’ faces, especially the Turtles. If the Turtles spent their time in the sewers or doing battle in the poorly lit alleys of New York, this would not be a bad thing. However, heavily shadowed faces in a brightly-lit mansion reads as a disconnect between the artist and the writers.
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #72 is a satisfying read and conclusion to this two-issue arc. The tight writing and ever-solid artwork makes an easy pick-up. In closing out the story here, readers can now turn their attention to Issue #73, which will mark the longest-running Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic ever. This was a great way to close out one era and begin a new.