Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61 (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: 24th August, 2016

After the fairly underwhelming conclusion to what looked set to be an impressive Kitsune and Splinter-led storyline in issue #60, this latest chapter sees our heroes taking stock of recent events and doing their best to lay out a coherent plan of attack moving forwards.  There’s a brief action-based opening as Donny and Angel come to blows with the Street Phantoms, but for the most part this is a bit of a ‘talky’ issue – no bad thing I assure you, especially given Tom Waltz’s typically stellar script.

While this issue is essentially made up of an extended family/war council meeting, it’s the smaller character-based moments that really help to sell the story.  Raphael’s visible anger and anxiety about ensuring the safety of Alopex; Jennika letting her emotional guard down just a little during a sparring session with Leo; Splinter taking Casey to one side and imparting some ‘fatherly’ wisdom.   It’s all great stuff, and helps to underscore the diverse nature of the current storylines beautifully.

For all these little moments, it’s the impassioned exchange between Mikey and Leo that really provides the beating heart of this issue.  Michelangelo’s feelings about the current state of play regarding his family and the Foot Clan are well documented, but seem to have been put on the back burner temporarily in light of the more pressing concerns.  Here they’re finally allowed to come flooding back out, making for some utterly gripping reading and yet another perfect example of just what makes this ongoing series so special – the emotional investment we all have in these characters.

Dave Wachter continues with the art duties here, showing some impressive visual flair during the kinetic opening pages before switching to a far more restrained, expressive style for the remainder of the issue.  As I mentioned in my previous reviews, I’m a huge fan of Wachter’s work, but will freely admit to being a little sceptical about whether he was the right choice for a Turtles book.  Well, three issues in, I can yet again confirm that I couldn’t have been more wrong, and while his style is markedly different from the majority of IDW’s previous TMNT artists, Wachter’s detailed approach – ably assisted by Ronda Pattison’s consistent colours – has made a seamless transition into the TMNT universe.

The issue sets up a spiderweb of different plot threads with the team preparing to split up and pursue their different missions in the issues come, and while in other titles there may be a feeling that the writers are trying to do too much, the track record of Eastman, Waltz and Curnow all but guarantees that these competing storylines will be balanced beautifully as the series continues.

In summary then, if you’re looking for dynamic action scenes or dramatic storyline developments, this probably isn’t the issue for you.  But if you’re in the mood for reading one of the better character-focused issues of IDW’s ongoing TMNT series for quite some time, you’re in for an absolute treat.

Rating: 4/5.

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