Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: Dave Wachter
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Lettering: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 16th May 2018
In the wake of the Triceraton Invasion, New York is still struggling to put itself back together. Unfortunately, matters are being made a hundred times worse by a certain Rat King who is capitalizing on the carnage by utilising his distinctive skills to lure a series of unwitting New Yorkers to their deaths. Thankfully, Clan Hamato is on the case, and as we left things last time out, they had approached Toad Baron – one of Rat King’s fellow Pantheon members – for assistance, with predictably dismal results.
Cards on the table, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Pantheon, although I’ll admit that some of the members of the ‘family’ do have their moments. Unfortunately, Toad Baron himself grates for me like fingernails on a blackboard, meaning that the bulk of this issue is a bit of a tough sell – for me, at least. That said, his uncooperative pomposity does offer up some intriguing conflict for our brothers to overcome, even if his froglet minions do not.
Fortunately, Dave Wachter’s artwork is the rising tide which raises all ships here, providing a striking and suitably fantastical rendition of the Toad Baron’s abode. It’s the type of light-hearted fun that the series thrives on, even though the stakes are still fairly high, and some of the running gags – like Raph’s nausea after touching the Baron’s belly – give the scenes an endearing, cartoony quality.
The exposition dump serves its purpose in the latter stages of the issue, reintroducing us to the various members of the Pantheon as the Turtles make their decision about which one they’re going to visit next. Thankfully, and especially considering the particular set of artistic skills that Wachter has in his toolbox, they choose correctly, taking the story into an interesting new arena in the final page of the issue. I definitely can’t wait to see Wachter flexing his muscle on this particular Pantheon member.
The core premise of this arc is undeniably solid, but the most intriguing hook – the Rat King’s deplorable, borderline terrifying actions – feel like they’re being unfairly sidelined here in favour of colourful hijinks. There’s also an incredibly jarring clash of tone between moments like Mikey fighting one of Toad Baron’s banana nunkchuk-wielding minions and Rat King literally leading orphans to their deaths, but I suppose that’s going to be always a risk when your series is based around giant humanoid animals.
It definitely looks the business, but the story is clearly treading water a little here before this latest arc really kicks into high gear, and the tonal inconsistency makes it a slightly uneven read. It’s still well worth a look though, and a thousand miles removed from the nonsense of the Triceraton Invasion.