Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #58 (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, David Wachter
Release Date: 11th May, 2016

Following the shocking revelation at the end of issue #57, TMNT’s three-part “Leatherhead” arc comes to a close here, and does so in exactly the same thoughtfully ambiguous way that has made this latest story so utterly compelling.

From his introduction, Leatherhead himself has been something of a question mark.  While he may have seemed benevolent and helpful, there was always something about him that just felt a bit ‘off’.  And, as we saw at the end of the previous issue, it’s sometimes better to trust our gut instinct on something like this — or is it?  Eastman, Curnow and Waltz do a typically stellar job with his characterisation here. Yes, it’s true that he’s not quite the ‘boy scout’ he painted himself as, but as it turns out, there may be a very good reason for that.

Also intriguing from a moral standpoint is the fate of the Utroms, and this issue continues to paint them as a far more complex species than the war-mongering, genocidal Krang would have us believe – something which is likely to pay some major dividends later down the road.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – without any disrespect intended to anyone else who has worked on the series over the years – Mateus Santolouco is, for my money, the definitive TMNT artist of the modern era.  He continues to do a truly fantastic job of balancing the action and emotion of the story, and both the expression and design of his characters is absolutely second to none.  His Leatherhead is truly a thing of beauty; a hulking Behemoth capable of a surprising range of emotion for what is essentially a giant, muscle-bound alligator.

Once again, colourist Ronda Pattison works in perfect synergy with Santoloucu to put together some truly gorgeous pages, particularly the scenes which take place beneath Burnow Island, and while her work may not gel quite as impressively with some of the other artists along the way, she and Mateus are clearly a match made in artistic heaven.

The next arc will see Dave Wachter (BREATH OF BONES) take over art duties, and while I was initially a little skeptical about whether Wachter could turn his considerable abilities to such cartoony fare, the final pages of this issue – which see him take over briefly to provide a question mark to the conclusion of the Leatherhead saga and set up the next phase in one single, shocking panel – I’m now genuinely excited to see what he can do with the title.

Above all, the most impressive aspect of IDW’s ongoing TMNT series is the fact that, fifty-eight issues in, it still feels like one single, flowing story.  Yes, we may dip in and out of different character’s lives, and yes, certain events may be pushed into the background or foreground as needs be, but all the changes, twists and turns along the way really mean something.  The cast of characters that the creative team has assembled are as rich and varied as any book on the shelves today, and the sheer confidence of the plotting from issue to issue, arc to arc, is truly something to be applauded.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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