Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #97 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Artwork: Michael Dialynas
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Lettering: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 28th August 2019

Now this is more like it.

Don’t get me wrong, IDW’s “City At War” arc has made for a thoroughly enjoyable read to this point. However, to me, some of the issues have felt more little unfocused, with the creators seemingly struggling to tie all their separate plot threads together in a meaningful way.

Here however, we have the majority of the key subplots converging into one single scene as Karai and her band of mutants and ninjas launch an all-out assault on Splinter and the Foot Clan.  It’s a great spectacle with plenty of action, but most importantly, and with the exception of Jennika’s briefly teased demise a few issues ago, this is the first time where the stakes have felt like they truly mattered.

Waltz, Eastman and Curnow are clearly taking pleasure in ramping up the tension and putting their heroes through the wringer.  Simply put, this is very much the “Empire Strikes Back” part of the story where the good guys get their asses well and truly handed to them, taking some serious losses that that they may never fully recover from.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as we get one tremendously uplifting moment with Jennika and an entertaining aside as Harold and Libby come face to face with their creation, Metalhead.  And rather than detracting from the ongoing battle, these moments serve as a welcome opportunity for us to pause to catch our breath before being launched headlong back into the frenzied skirmish.

Form what I understand, this is Michael Dialynas’ last issue on this arc before handing back over to Dave Wachter for the march to issue #100, and he certainly goes out in style with yet another impressively high-energy showing.  The action flows smoothly in spite of the scale of the conflict, and certain characters are given ample opportunity to shine.  Demonic sword guardian Ocho in particular looks genuinely terrifying at points here, and the way Koya, Bludgeon, Natsu and the others rip through the Foot Clan Elite serves as the perfect marriage between narrative and visual storytelling.

The final pages feature more of the aforementioned stakes being raised, with the defeated “good guys” being forced to regroup for fear of being wiped out altogether, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how (and indeed if) they’re going to be able to rebound going into the milestone hundredth issue.  There’s also several intriguing wildcards still in play, from Jennika to Hob and the Mutanimals to Hun and the EDF, and you can bet that the creators have a plan to bring everything together as this landmark story reaches its conclusion in a few months.

After several solid, story-building chapters, this is easily the best issue of the arc so far, and injects the proceedings with a real sense of purpose as Karai finally makes her decisive move.  IDW’s TMNT series is always at its best when its different storylines unite into one single narrative, and that’s exactly what happens here.  Highly, highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.


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