Adam Wolfe writes.
Spoilers Below, Beware.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue #68 is mostly a “set up” issue that is the prelude to bigger events. Truth be told, not much happens in this issue that you didn’t already know from issue #67. It is mostly exposition with a little sprinkle of action.
This issue provides a good bit of character progression, and subtle hints as to what is happening beneath the surface of the characters. This has been a constant throughout the IDW series, and continues to be a strong tradition in this issue. Since the end of the last arc, Leonardo has been questioning his role with the team, and the direction he and his brothers are going in. He secretly met with his now estranged master/father Splinter, and asked for advice on how to corral his brothers. The opening sequence shows Leonardo trying to lead his brothers through rigorous training, but their lack of focus and drive is frustrating him. Fast forwarding to the end of the issue, the turtles find themselves surrounded. As is tradition, Raphael asks Leonardo what their course of action should be. Leo, looking visibly nervous, responds that he “doesn’t know.” For any longtime turtle fan, they know just how out of character those two simple words are. This simple statement, and the worry and confusion on Leo’s face reveals that perhaps his frustrations with the groups lack of focus, are a projection of his own. He isn’t doubting his brothers, he’s doubting himself. The way the writing shows this to the reader, rather than overtly telling them is very nicely done.
As always Mateus Santolouco provides crisp, clear visuals that make the issue breeze by. Honestly, any issue drawn by him is worth picking up in my opinion, as he has been consistently the best turtles artist in a long time. I find finding the right balance between the turtle’s human, and reptilian features to be the biggest challenge for turtle artists. Santolouco does so effortlessly and is able to convey very impactful expressions throughout the issue. From the backgrounds of the military bases, to the wreckage of an apartment, to the flow of the turtles practicing their ninjutsu forms, there isn’t a weak panel in the issue. My personal favorite is Raph taking out this drone with a shuriken.
There is a lot of talking, and not so much doing. As I mentioned before, the reader doesn’t really learn much they didn’t already know in issue #67. The conversation between Man Ray and the Dark Water leader goes on for about five pages. In those pages, you learn just how much intel the Mutanimals have on their enemies, but not much else. Granted the payoff of Sally and Mondo Gecko’s escape after the conversation was pretty entertaining, I felt the dialogue in those pages did drag on just a bit. Also, I’m not a big fan of how Old Hob constantly brushes off Raphael. Yes, I know Raphael is the hot head of the group, and perhaps has the biggest mouth, but being constantly belittled by Hob only hurts the character. He is almost being made into a meme, constantly threatening and never doing. For story purposes, I know they can’t have Raph make good on every threat he makes, but at this point he just doesn’t seem threatening at all. I wish the writers would think of another way to convey Raph’s “tough guy” attitude, without making him look like a chump page after page.
All in all, it was a good issue. There was enough action to keep me invested even with the heavy exposition. Not too much happens in this issue, but there is more than enough setup to keep the reader wanting more from issue #69. The fate of Sally and Mondo is left unclear, and the promise of the turtles vs. a brainwashed Slash is really the selling point for the next issue. A reoccurring theme throughout this series is “becoming that which you once fought”. The last arc saw Splinter leading the Foot, and Casey leading the Purple Dragons. Given the way this next story is being set up, I wonder if the theme will reoccur, and the turtles will be forced to militarize to protect themselves. Either way, the next few issues of the turtles will most likely be jammed packed with some epic mutant on mutant fight scenes, so it will be exciting. Since the table is being set for an all-out war between humanity and mutants, it leaves an interesting question as to where Casey, Angel, and the turtles other human allies will end up.
If you’re a big turtle fan, I suggest picking this issue up. If you’re tight on cash, or just waiting for the next big brawl, then you can definitely get away with skipping this issue as no really big revelations were made. That being said, it was a solid read.
I give it a 7/10
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