Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #77 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: Damian Courceiro
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Release Date: 15th November, 2017

The Triceraton invasion of Earth continues this week in the latest issue of IDW’s ongoing TMNT series.  And, following the rapid escalation of hostilities courtesy of the (un)timely intervention of  Agent Bishop and the Earth Protection Force, not to mention the unexpected arrival of Splinter and the Foot Clan, it’s safe to say that business looks set to pick up in a major way here.

Waltz, Eastman and Curnow have managed to put together a solid enough story, but the overall impact is unfortunately being hampered by the fact that nobody involved is coming across particularly well.  I mean, the Triceratons appear almost blindingly naive, seemingly expecting to walk in and take over a planet based solely on the word of one man.  Splinter on the other hand appears to be gradually morphing into a rodent version of Shredder with his morally ambiguous, self-serving approach to battle.  Oh, and while this is all going on, the Turtles themselves are reduced to passive, almost superfluous onlookers to the whole situation.  As a result, it’s difficult to really become too invested in what’s going on, particularly given the fact that the real stakes aren’t hammered home until the final pages, where Waltz and co. finally ramp things up in a significant way.

That said, there are some enjoyable moments along the way, such as the tense conversation between Splinter and Agent Bishop, but for the most part there’s no getting away from the fact that it all just feels a little superficial, lacking the level of emotional investment that frequently goes hand-in-hand with this series.

On the visual side of things, I’m willing to admit that I was perhaps overly skeptical of just how well Courceiro’s artwork fits this story in my review of the previous issue, because I can confirm now that his style is really starting to grow on me.  Without going ‘full Mignola’, he manages to provide a stripped-down, angular aesthetic that really goes a long way towards giving this latest arc its own distinctive feel.  The action flows smoothly, the characters are expressive enough to nail the beats of Waltz’s dialogue, and the aforementioned ‘ramping up’ double-page splash is executed with an impressive level of flair and scale.

While it’s difficult not to think that things are going to be resolved amicably within the next couple of issues, it’s hard to be too mad at the creators for trying something a little different, bringing the cosmic side of the expansive TMNT universe to the streets of New York.  It’s certainly something different, and as the longest run in the history of this franchise surges into its seventh year, you can forgive Eastman, Waltz and Curnow for trying to mix things up a little in order to keep things feeling fresh.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still an enjoyable enough story in its own regard, but there’s no ignoring the fact that it does feel like a slight step back in quality from some of the previous arcs.  Worth a look if you’re a fan of the series, but not essential by any means.

Rating: 3/5.

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