Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #56 (IDW Publishing)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: Mateus Santolouco, Ronda Pattison
Release Date: 23rd March, 2016

This latest issue of IDW’s ongoing TMNT series sees our brothers returning to Burnow Island – the site of Krang’s recent thwarted attempt to terraform the Earth – to assist Fugitoud with a rather complex moral issue.  Namely, how best to deal with the various Utroms who are still being kept in stasis.  It also serves as the full IDW debut (following a brief cameo in issue #49) of fan favourite character Leatherhead, a mutated alligator who played a significant part in the survival of Donatello, and who now has a request of his own for the team.

As usual, the ‘big picture’ plotting of Eastman, Curnow and Waltz is handled impressively, with Waltz himself handling the scripting duties here.  This is one of the more focused issues in recent months, with the bulk of the narrative focused firmly on the events on Burnow Island, giving the book a far more cohesive feel to it.  Leatherhead himself poses an interesting series of questions, with the group only really having his own account of his ‘origin story’ to go by, and his hulking, intimidating appearance seeming wholly at odds with his articulate, well-reasoned dialogue.  It’s clear that this character is going to be a pivotal one in the issues to come, and his introduction here does a fantastic job of drawing in the reader in.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the artwork of Michael Dialynas over the previous few issues, it’s definitely great to see Mateus Santolouco making his return here, particularly with his fantastic character design for Leatherhead himself.  This isn’t an issue with any real action sequences, but Mateus does a typically solid job of conveying the emotions of the characters as they wrestle with the moral implications of the ‘Utrom situation’.  Ronda Pattison is back on form here as well, following a slightly below par few issues alongside Dialynas, and her colours particularly shine during the flashback scenes relating to Leatherhead’s origins, with dense, dark jungles and murky waters aplenty.

For all its good points, one thing that I can’t help but feel a little disappointed by is the rather underwhelming return of Michelangelo to the group.  After his fairly shocking departure following the events of issue 50 which saw Splinter assume command of the Foot Clan, Mikey’s well-reasoned and utterly justifiable objections have been effectively swept aside here, with his removal from the group only really serving as an excuse for a brief Mutanimals side story.   I’m sure Eastman, Curnow and Waltz will revisit this particular thread somewhere down the line, but for me, it all seems to have been swept aside a little too conveniently – for the time being, at least.

That niggle aside, this is another typically strong installment of the series, and offers up some truly interesting moral questions, a fantastic new character in Leatherhead, and an impressively shocking cliffhanger.  Once again, I find myself having praise the sheer consistency of this series, and of the measured, thoughtful plotting of its creative team.  Roll on next month!

Rating: 4/5.

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