Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #52 (IDW Publishing)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow
Script: Tom Waltz
Artist: Ken Garing
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Release Date: 25th November, 2015

The shift in direction of IDW’s ongoing TMNT series continues here as our heroes struggle to adjust to their new association with the Foot Clan.  Some are doing their best to embrace the change, with Leo and Alopex helping to train some of the new Foot recruits, while others are flat-out refusing to accept the new dynamic, with Mikey leaving the group altogether and – seemingly – hooking up with some old “friends”.

As should be expected by now, there are a lot of different moving parts and sub-plots going on in this issue, with the creative grouping of Eastman, Waltz and Curnow keeping an impressive number of plates spinning at the same time.  Unfortunately, as a side-effect of this, some characters are occasionally glossed over or missed out completely from issue to issue, highlighting the limitations of the episodic format.  TMNT has always been a title that reads better as a trade or a “binge”, and while the individual issues are undoubtedly impressive, it’s safe to say that the full impact is only really provided by the ‘bigger picture’.

The bulk of this issue deals with the first real challenge to Splinter’s leadership, and shows new faction “the Street Phantoms” as a legitimate threat.  There are plenty of impressively dynamic action sequences here, all wonderfully rendered by the pen of artist Ken Garing, whose slightly darker, Eastman-esque style is perfectly suited for the new tone of the series.   Even colourist Ronda Pattison seems to have pulled back on her palette somewhat, giving the book a far more serious feel – the last couple of pages notwithstanding.

We also take a moment to briefly check in with Casey Jones, in an exchange that doesn’t really advance anything aside from showing Jones to be a little more angry and aggressive following the events of his and April’s mini-series adventure.  Still, getting to see Garing illustrating Jones cracking some skulls is a genuine treat, and makes for an enjoyable, if somewhat superfluous, two or three page diversion.

While the pace has understandably slowed right down, this is still a solid chapter in the ongoing story, and without wanting to detract from the work of Santolouco or Smith, I’m absolutely loving the change in artistic style.   If you’re a TMNT fan, you’re most likely picking this one up already, and if you’re not, these last couple of issues might just be the perfect time to start.  As close to a reboot as you could hope for without a renumbering and a pointless “all-new” tagline, this is a breath of fresh air for the TMNT franchise, and a bold new direction for everyone’s favourite heroes in a half-shell.

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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