Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #66 (IDW Publishing)

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Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz & Sophie Campbell
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: Sophie Campbell
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Release Date: 25th January, 2017

The latest issue of IDW’s ongoing TMNT series takes us away from the main story for a moment as we check in with Raphael and Nobody as they continue their search for Alopex.  Excitingly, this issue also features the TMNT return of Sophie Campbell, whose beautifully watercoloured artwork provides the perfect fit to convey the tormented hallucinations of Alopex, still reeling from her recent mind control ordeal at the hands of Kitsune.

The relationship – or teased relationship – between Raphael and Alopex has always been one of the more interesting side-stories in IDW’s ongoing TMNT series, so it’s great to see it explored with such an unprecedented level of depth here.  During his conversations with Angel, we get to discover just why Raph thinks the pair have such a close bond, as well as the reasons behind his reservations against pursuing things any further.  It’s also refreshing that this issue doesn’t feel the need to check in with any of the other sub-plots along the way, keeping the focus squarely on Alopex as she struggles to come to terms with the guilt of her actions, trying desperately to rid herself of the last remnants of Kitsune’s influence.

Campbell’s artwork is truly stunning in places, particularly during the scenes where Alopex’s hallucinations take on a more ‘animalistic’ form, and the juxtaposition between the frozen tundra of Alaska and the red of Kitsune’s robes makes for some truly striking panels.  Her layouts are creative throughout, with the regimented, black-guttered style of the Raphael/Nobody scenes bleeding away into a free-flowing, abstract approach during the Alopex sequences.   Campbell also does a fantastic job with the emotional beats of the story, such as the faintest hint of a tear in Alopex’s eye during one pivotal scene, a detail which speaks volumes to her mental state as Raph tries desperately to pull her back from the abyss.

Ultimately then, while it’s perhaps not necessarily essential reading in order to keep up to date with the ongoing story, this is still an absolute masterclass in character development, and features some truly jaw-dropping artwork.  It’s been far too long since Eastman, Waltz and Curnow shone a light on this particular relationship, and I’m certain that fans of either character – or of great storytelling in general, to be honest – will absolutely love this issue.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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