Review – TMNT Universe #18 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Paul Allor, Caleb Goellner
Artwork: Tyler Boss, Ronda Pattison (colours), Michael Dialynas
Release Date: 3rd January 2017

For those of you who may not already be aware, TMNT Universe is an anthology-esque book that runs in parallel with IDW’s ongoing TMNT series, featuring one-shot or short-running stories that frequently ‘fill in the blanks’ about what’s going on between the events of the main series.

As such, it’s very easy to dip in and out as the reader sees fit, but with personal favourite artist Tyler Boss (co-creator of Black Mask Studios’ 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank) hopping on board for the latest issue, there was no way in hell I was going to miss this one.

The main story, “Monster Hunt”, is set in a Midtown evacuation centre during the Triceraton invasion, and sees our four brothers trying to ninja their way out of the building without being spotted.  It’s an incredible simple premise, but with a mixture of Paul Allor’s sharp writing and Boss’s gift for note-perfect visual comedy, it ends up being one of the most enjoyable TMNT Universe issues to date.

Boss uses the full scope of the comic book medium to deliver the humourous beats, including brilliantly inventive top-down views and inspired cutaways.  It’s a little unusual to see the somewhat realistic style that should be familiar to readers of 4 Kids being used to bring four giant talking turtles to life, but Boss handles things in a brilliantly matter-of-fact way, taking all of the exaggerated “Saturday morning cartoon” animation out of proceedings and actually making the whole thing a lot more fun as a result.

Allor shows a firm grip of our ninja brothers, and seemingly takes great pleasure in putting them into a variety of uncomfortable situations as they try and escape the centre while simultaneously staying one step ahead of a pair of excitable youngsters who are doing a little bit of ‘monster hunting’.  The payoff is thoroughly enjoyable (with more than a passing nod to 4 Kids as the brothers don some imaginative disguises), and the whole thing wraps up with an upbeat and positive denouement.  Cracking stuff from start to finish.

The backup strip, “Mutagen Maintenance”, perhaps feels a little flimsy when compared to the sheer genius of the main story, but it does provide an opportunity for Michael Dialynas to draw the Mutanimals again, and to be honest, that’s pretty much all the justification it needs to exist.  Fingers crossed we get the Greek artist back on the main series sooner rather than later, even if it means – shudder – another Mutanimals arc (I kid, I kid).

All in all, this is an incredibly enjoyable package, and – as I mentioned above – is definitely one of the best issues of the TMNT Universe series to date.  Boss gets to showcase his visual comedy chops and Allor brings us a story that is both blindingly simple and brilliantly inventive.  Highly, highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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