Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #85 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: Brahm Revel
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Lettering: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 22nd August 2018

Hot on the heels of the thoroughly enjoyable Rat King arc, IDW’s ongoing TMNT series takes a brief, one-issue break from the ongoing narrative as artist Brahm Revel is brought in for a self-contained Leatherhead story.

While we do find time to check in with some of the ongoing plot threads – such as the rapidly escalating situation surrounding Baxter Stockman and the blossoming relationship between Casey and Jennika – this issue is primarily a character-focused affair, giving us some deeper insight into Leatherhead’s mindset in the wake of the shocking moment in issue #75 when he decided to eat Krang.

Unfortunately, any sense of ambiguity or tension as the Turtles are directed to the local Museum to investigate a shocking “incident” are utterly defused by both the cover and the “story so far” blurb.  It’s Leatherhead.  We know it’s Leatherhead, so keeping him off-camera until a supposedly dramatic reveal seems a little pointless given the circumstances.

That said, I’m still a massive fan of Leatherhead as a character, and the way Tom Waltz continues to write him as a highly intelligent yet undeniably damaged creation makes him one of the more interesting supporting cast members in this ongoing series.  It also becomes fairly clear throughout the course of this issue that Leatherhead is even more damaged than usual since the Krang-muching, and the highly-charged misunderstanding between he and Clan Hamato makes for a dynamic, exciting issue.

On the visual side of things, I’m a huge fan of Revel’s artwork on Guerrillas with Oni Press, but there’s something about his version of the TMNT with their perfectly oval heads that jars a little for me.  He’s clearly a talented artist, as the action sequences here will readily attest to, and his Leatherhead looks the absolute business, but… yeah… those heads, man.

Complimenting Revel’s work is Ronda Pattison, who keeps things energetic and cohesive with her typically polished colour work. I particularly love the way she uses block background colours during moments of impact or emotion to help underscore their significance.

The final page sees us delving back into the ongoing narrative, and with Dave Wachter (my personal favourite TMNT artist of the moment) back on board from issue 86, the wait until next month’s issue is clearly going to be an long and arduous one.

Ultimately, while a lot of the content here could perhaps be viewed as non-essential in the grand scheme of things, I’m thrilled that Waltz, Curnow and Eastman have opted to check in with one of my favourite TMNT characters, and the situation surrounding his fractured mindset opens up all sorts of storyline opportunities down the line.  Leatherhead fans rejoice!

If you’ve made it all the way to issue 85 then you’ll already be familiar with the hallmarks of this series, and the blend of sheer consistency and impressively nuanced storyline development ensures that this series still feels as fresh now as it did all the way back at issue one.  Another solid issue then… oval heads notwithstanding.

Rating: 4/5.


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