Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #54 (IDW Publishing)


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Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman
Artwork: Michael Dialynas, Ronda Pattison
Release Date: 27th Jan 2016

Full disclosure, I’ve never really been a huge fan of the Mutanimals.  Like, at all.  They always seemed a little too cheesy and cartoony for me, which I fully appreciate is a bit of a weird criticism to be levied at a universe built around four ninja turtles and their rat father.  Thankfully however, in the hands of Messrs Waltz and Eastman, this latest diversion from the main story which has seen Mikey joining up with the band of mutant misfits has been an absolute joy, displaying a perfect balance between humour and seriousness; something IDW’s ongoing TMNT series has excelled at for, oh, about fifty-four issues now.

While the ongoing saga with the Foot Clan takes a back seat here, this side-story actually has some real emotional punch to it, with the more ‘zany’ members of the Mutanimals – Mondo Gecko, Herman, Pete – used sparingly in favour of the more intriguing characters like Seymour, Sally and Slash.  The dynamic within the group is utilised extremely well by the writing duo, with Mikey’s arrival causing some major ripples and the shocking discovery at the end of the previous issue threatening to split the group in two.

Another impressive aspect of this latest  arc is Michael Dialynas’ artwork, which continues to fit perfectly into the TMNT universe.  A little less clean than Santolouco’s work, maybe, but with a great deal more expression and a terrific sense of energy during the action sequences. The ongoing melee between Mikey and Hun, for instance, is particularly dynamic, with a real feeling of connection being conveyed as the various blows are thrown and landed.  IDW’s TMNT franchise continues to select artists whose styles gel perfectly with the stories they’re trying to tell, and while Dialynas’ artwork isn’t necessarily as ‘cartoony’ as you’d perhaps expect from a Mutanimals arc, it works extremely well in conveying some of the emotional heft of the verbal – and physical – exchanges.

While the larger ongoing story isn’t really advanced all that much within these pages – at least, not until the final panel, where Eastman and Waltz drop an absolute bombshell which is going to cause some serious ramifications in the issues to come – this is still a thoroughly enjoyable issue that gets bumped up another couple of notches by virtue of the powerful exchange between Mikey and Slash. Mikey’s seemingly rash decision to leave the group is explained in a truly relatable way, and the colourful cast of supporting characters are used perfectly to help illustrate his complicated mindset.

Overall then, this latest arc continues to showcase the truly gripping nature of IDW’s TMNT universe, with complex character arcs mixed with dynamic, exciting action.  As I’ve said before, you can count me in for the foreseeable future, and if a – gasp – Mutanimals storyline can’t derail Waltz and Eastman’s unstoppable momentum, I honestly don’t think anything can.

Rating: 4/5.

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