Publisher: IDW Publishing
Script and Artwork: Sophie Campbell
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Lettering: Shawn Lee
Story Consulting: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Release Date: 8th January 2020
[WARNING: Review contains spoilers for TMNT #100]
Its safe to say that Sophie Campbell had some fairly sizeable shoes to fill as she took the wheel of IDW’s relentless TMNT juggernaut with 100 issues of in-depth and meticulously intertwined storytelling to live up to. However, as we launch into a bold new era in this iconic ongoing series with issue 101, Campbell has already proven to be more than up to the task.
Perhaps most impressively, Campbell isn’t satisfied with merely slotting into the established narrative and playing with the toys that Waltz, Eastman and co. have left for her. Instead, she makes the decision to launch us six months into the future with a bold new status quo – for New York, at least – and Clan Hamato demoralised and splintered (pun only partially intended) following the shocking death of their father.
Campbell shows an impressive knack for the kind of storyline plate-spinning that Tom Waltz managed to perfect over the previous 100 issues, dipping in and out of different subplots and settings here with consummate ease. New face Mona Lisa looks set to become an instant fan favourite, and her interactions with Jennkia are filled with charm and humanity, delivering a slightly optimistic uptick to help offset the grief.
On the visual side of things, Campbell’s artistic abilities were certainly never in question, but it’s worth pointing out that she does a truly stellar job here with her layouts, particularly in the opening pages (as you can see below), and keeping this relatively action-free issue flowing smoothly from start to finish.
Her characters are expressive and emotional, and the designs – whether it be for Mona Lisa herself or the plethora of other mutated inhabitants of the “containment zone” – are top notch throughout. Managing to slot what is essentially a dystopian drama into the pages of a TMNT comics is an impressive feat, and creates a fascinating new spin on a plot point I’d previously dismissed as being a little hokey. Campbell’s artistic flair makes it a relatively painless transition from Dialynas and Wachter, and the often-underappreciated talents of Ronda Pattison and Shawn Lee ensure a comforting level of familiarity as we surge forwards into the next hundred issues.
Ultimately, this issue is focused on re-establishing characters and setting up new storylines, but it never feels like filler with a rapid pace and some great emotional beats along the way. With a fresh feel and an exciting new direction, I have absolutely no doubt that this series is in safe hands with Campbell at the helm, and I absolutely can’t wait to see where this story goes next.