Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #102 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Script and Artwork: Sophie Campbell
Colours: Ronda Pattison
Lettering: Shawn Lee
Story Consulting: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Release Date: 29th January 2020

After a strong first issue, Sophie Campbell’s stint at the helm of IDW’s ongoing TMNT juggernaut continues its impressive momentum this week. There’s some nice action as the skirmish from the previous issue between Jennika, Mona and the fairly overzealous Mutanimal enforcers continues. Plus, it’s worth pointing out again just how fascinating it is to see what is effectively a mutant dystopia existing within the confines of New York City, and all the different subcultures and social enterprises that have sprung up as a result.

For me though, the real highlight of the issue is the scene featuring Mikey, Donnie and Leo. Each brother is clearly struggling to find direction following their father’s death, and each is handling their grief in their own way. This sequence also really helps to showcase Campbell’s light touch as a storyteller, and the mostly wordless panels do a better job of explaining each brother’s emotional mindset than any amount of dialogue or exposition ever could.

Elsewhere, it’s great to see more of a focus being shone on the female side of the TMNT universe, with Jennika, Alopex, Mona and Mutanimal “Commander” Sally joining Raph in the spotlight. As I mentioned, the “Mutant Town” dynamic is a cracking storytelling choice, and manages to give us a glimpse of what a world of mutants would look like in a small, self-contained way that doesn’t overwrite the wider storylines.

Artistically, Campbell continues to display a great knack for visual storytelling, and while her action sequences are admittedly well-choreographed, it’s the quieter moments that really resonate here. Seriously, anyone not experiencing Mikey’s pain right along with him after reading these last few issues must have a heart of stone.

The final pages introduce a trio of intriguing new faces into the mix, while revealing Hobs’s unsurprisingly selfish actions to capitalize on the horrific situation he himself created. While the character has shown flashes of relatability over the years, his recent actions are slotting him emphatically into the ‘utterly unredeemable’ category, and it seems that a lot of the other Mutanimals are starting to feel this way too.

Ultimately, while the burden of expectation for her run was dizzyingly high, Campbell has done a truly stellar job, not just of continuing the existing story but of expanding it in new and exciting ways. It’s never been a better time to be a TMNT comic book fan, and this new arc has all the makings of becoming an all-time classic.

Rating: 4.5/5.


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