The Ninja Turtles are bouncing through Dimension X to gather witnesses for Krang’s trial before the sinister assassin Hakk-R can kill them off. Their travels bring them to Stump Asteroid, the location of Grappleganza, a big professional wrestling event. Stump, the co-owner of the Intergalactic Wrestling Federation is their target. The Turtles have to step into the squared circle and help out if they want to get Stump to safety.
In the venn diagram of nerdom, there is a big overlap between the Ninja Turtles, comics, and professional wrestling. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Dimension X #3 from IDW Publishing hits on all of those marks. This comes through perfectly in how Michelangelo reacts to the whole experience. He can barely contain his excitement when he finds out where they’re going and that wide-eyed, bushy-tailed expression continues throughout the entire book. He innocently asks his brothers to clarify what they mean when they say wrestling is fake, like a little kid finding out the truth about Santa Claus.
It’s easy to see why Mikey is so excited about this. Writer Aubrey Sitterson pulls you into the fanfare and exhilaration of a pro wrestling event. I was actually a little upset that we didn’t get to see the rest of the matches because if the couple we saw were any indication, the IWF puts on one awesome show.
Artist Khary Randolph and colorist John Rauch keep the action exciting and well-choreographed. The matches themselves are given a red-ish hue, as if the Turtles and their opponents are under big colored lights while they’re wrestling.
Randolph captured the essence of each of the Turtles in their facial expressions, especially with Michelangelo and Raphael. The former is filled with childlike joy while the other is dour and gruff. This is why one of them is cool, but crude and the other is a party dude.
The Turtles can’t go into the ring in their regular outfits, of course. They need flashy new costumes and gimmicks. They’re not quite to the classic 1980s action figure level of crazy, although that would have been a nice touch. If Raphael came out in an astronaut suit, I wouldn’t have complained. Instead, they’re given cheesy ring attire, as if someone who knew one or two things about them were forced to come up with a costume. Throw a ying-yang here and a tassled shirt there and you’re set. This works for this story and their location.
Speaking of the 1980s action figures, this issue is like something we’d see from the original cartoon. It’s more than a little ridiculous, yet very fun. Yes, there’s a space assassin trying to kill them and their witness, but the Turtles are more than capable of handling him and throwing down for some championship belts.
This adventure serves as a lesson for the Turtles too. When they came to Neutrino, the lines between good and evil were cut and dry. They were good. Krang was evil. They have to do whatever they can to make sure he stays behind bars. The people they’re meeting along the way do not play by those rules. Some have been manipulated into doing bad things, but others, like Stump, did them willfully and profited off of them. Can the Turtles forgive something like this in an effort to put Krang away for good? This is the grey area that many people live in and they’re going to have to learn to live with that.