Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Tom Waltz
Artwork: Adam Gorham
Colours: John Rauch, Michael Garland
Lettering: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 29th July 2020
Effectively taking the form of three separate storyline threads, IDW’s 2020 TMNT Annual sees Pantheon member Rat King trying to recruit a new “knight” to represent him in the game he and his family are continually playing with the mortal realm. It’s a great framing device, and allows us to check in on certain characters and situations that have been temporarily placed on the back-burner during Sophie Campbell’s stellar run on the main ongoing series. It also gives writer Tom Waltz and artist Adam Gorham plenty of fun situations to play around with, and their shared enjoyment really shows here.
For his first stop, Rat King visits the recently resurrected Oroku Saki in a tense, shadowy exchange that does a great job of showcasing the former Shredder’s new outlook, as well as the Pantheon member’s duplicitous, scheming nature. It’s also worth pointing out that while the Dave Wachter version will always be my favourite Rat King, Gorham does a fantastic job of bringing the sneering, snarling, purple-hued immortal to the page.
For the second, shorter mini-story, Rat King watches from the shadows as the rage-fuelled Karai belittles her Mutant soldiers while overseeing the dismemberment and disposal of the giant dragon which nearly wiped out New York City. As a character, Karai carried a great deal of the load during ‘City of War’, so it’s great to see that she has plans for the Foot Clan moving forwards, and looks likely to figure in the bigger picture sooner rather than later.
Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, we get to expand upon the eyebrow-raising epilogue to the milestone 100th issue where Fugitoud discovered that Utroms are actually parasitic organisms, and where we found out that Krang had fused himself to Leatherhead. Rat King’s delight at discovering the symbiotic partnership and in watching their interactions both with each other and with the always-entertaining pairing of Alopex and Nobody makes for great reading, and I can’t wait to see this particular thread intertwine itself into the main storyline in the future.
At the end of the day, while it’s perhaps not quite essential reading for those following the main ongoing series, there’s more than enough great content and important character beats here to justify the cover price. Rat King is always great value, and getting to check in on Oroku Saki, Karai and the hideously intriguing Leatherhead/Krang symbiotic partnership, this an annual I have absolutely no problems recommending you pick up.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]