Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #59 (IDW Publishing)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: David Wachter, Ronda Pattison
Release Date: 15th June, 2016

Following the shocking cliffhanger at the end of the previous arc – a cliffhanger which saw the Turtles returning home following their encounter with Leatherhead only to find their father being held at knifepoint by Kitsune while Jennika and Alopex cross swords in the background – this issue flashes back to show us exactly how that dramatic situation came about.

This is a fairly Splinter-centric issue, and a long overdue one at that.  Since taking over as the new leader of the Foot Clan, everyone’s favourite Rat has been used somewhat sparingly, imparting the occasional jewel of wisdom without the focus ever really lingering on him for too long.  That absence is thankfully remedied here, and Splinter’s supportive exchange with Jennika and subtext-laden bout of verbal sparring with Kitsune make for fantastic reading, with Tom Waltz’s script proving every bit as sharp as usual.

It’s worth mentioning just how impressively IDW’s TMNT series manages to subtly shift both its tone and style from arc to arc, and a lot of the credit for that change here falls squarely on the shoulders of new artist Dave Wachter.  I’m a big fan of Wachter’s previous work on the likes of Breath of Bones and Godzilla, and his distinctive, detailed style here adds a sense of gravitas to the proceedings that may not always have been present (or indeed necessary) from the likes of Mateus Santolouco or Michael Dialynas.

While this is definitely something of a ‘talky’ issue, Wachter shines in his ability to pack expression onto the faces of his characters, Splinter in particular.  And while I’m not quite sold on his version of the Turtles themselves just yet (although admittedly they only appear in a few panels here), the confident way he handles characters like Alopex – not to mention the stunning double-page spread of Splinter in action – give me great hope for the rest of this arc.  Oh, and that final page?  Wow.  Just… wow.  Next month can’t come soon enough.

Overall then, while this issue sees a bit of a change of pace from the last couple of bright, bold, “cartoony” arcs, the confidence and steady-handedness of the creative team continues to steer this ship smoothly.  While there have certainly been other licensed comics that have provided inventive, engaging and respectful incarnations of classic characters (Burnham and Schoening’s Ghostbusters, for instance), few – if any – have done it as consistently and for as long a period as IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.  Essential reading if you’re a TMNT fan, and highly recommended even if you aren’t.

Rating: 4/5.

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