Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #63 (IDW Publishing)

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Click to enlarge

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: David Wachter, Ronda Pattison
Release Date: 12th October, 2016

Following the shocking reveal that not only has Harold Lillja been kidnapped, but that Splinter effectively orchestrated the entire situation, tensions are understandably running high as the latest arc in IDW’s ongoing TMNT series surges forwards.

One of the most interesting aspects of this issue, and indeed this arc as a whole, is the moral ambiguity at play here.  On one hand, we can totally understand Mikey’s hesitancy about the whole “Foot Clan” situation, as well as Donnie and Raph’s shock and horror at Splinter effectively using Harold as bait for his latest tactical move.  But on the other, it’s not like the brothers haven’t kept things from their father in the past, justifying their actions by claiming they’re protecting his best interests, so it’s difficult to feel too angry or disappointed at the Rat sensei’s recent decisions.

After a succession of storylines which have leaned more heavily on action set-pieces and large scale threats, it’s refreshing to see this latest arc focusing more on the interactions between the brothers and their father, and the gradual splintering (no pun intended) of the once-unbreakable family unit.  The side-story with Harold and his interview/interrogation works well too, and his interactions with Libby are filled with subtext and brilliant put-downs from both sides.  Yes, the “Street Phantoms” and their boss are still perhaps the tiniest bit generic, but they serve their purpose well as a catalyst to push the story forwards and, perhaps most importantly, to provide a legitimate threat to force Splinter’s hand into these somewhat questionable tactics.

After my initial trepidation (not regarding his abilities, more regarding his suitability for a book like this), artist Dave Wachter has proved to fit the world of TMNT like a glove, with his slightly more gritty, slightly more ‘adult’ style working perfectly to communicate the emotional heft of this latest story arc.  As I’ve mentioned before, Wachter’s expressive, delicately inked style works wonders in injecting the series with a sense of gravitas, adding a layer of nuance to the storytelling that could perhaps be wasted admist a bolder, more ‘cartoony’ approach.  His final page is also a thing of absolute beauty, and while the nature of the reveal shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise to eagle-eyed readers, the execution – not to mention the brilliant visual flourish – is pretty much flawless.

One of the better issues for a while then, and with what promises to be one hell of a showdown in issue sixty-four, IDW’s TMNT series feels like it’s ramping up the pace again after a few slower, more contemplative issues.

Rating: 4/5.

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