Back in Dimension X on Utrominion, the Triceratons have discovered their true origin and how the Utrom Empire has manipulated them for years. Zom is ready to fight every last one of them if he has to, going down swinging, but Zog sees a better way to rebel against their captors. They have to think of the Herd and what’s best for them, not just lashing out in anger, however justified it may be. This is what sets the Triceratons down the path that led them back to their home planet of Earth, as we’re currently seeing play out in the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic. Here in TMNT Universe #17, we get a deeper understanding of this race of dinosaur warriors and where they’re coming from.
This sounds strange to say, but the Triceratons are humanized by their actions in this issue. When you first see them, you might think they’re monsters with their gruff appearance and thick stature. They’re clearly built for fighting, however that doesn’t mean they’re not capable of love. There’s a touching scene as the Triceratons prepare for their initial strike where we see a couple quietly hugging. Soldiers are running about getting ready and these two creatures found a moment to embrace before the chaos descends around them.
Artist Giannis Milonogiannis captures this balance between the monstrous and the beautiful. He finds the humanity in these dinosaur warriors. Yes, they look terrifying and incredibly strong, but they have heart. This contrasts nicely with Krang who looks pathetic and conniving. He is the opposite of the Triceratons in every way.
A sense of community permeates through the entire Herd. This is what makes Zog a great leader. If he’s not careful, his actions could wipe out everyone he holds dear. This must be handled delicately. You can see how this decision weighs on him as he issues some very sensitive orders. Things could go horribly wrong in the next few days and his entire race is depending on him making the right call.
We get to see the Triceratons in action with ruthless efficiency as they initiate their attack against the Utroms. Milonogiannis illustrates this brutal battle that serves as a showcase for the Triceratons’ strength. They’re slaughtering the Utroms with no remorse. This is what an oppressed people can do with the right motivation.
The battle is narrated by Zom as she writes a letter to Zog detailing the events. She takes no pleasure in this war, but understands that by taking these actions today, it means there’s hope for peace for her and her people in the future. It’s a very poignant scene that writer Chris Mowry handles well, juxtaposing the violence in Milonogiannis’ artwork with the dream of a better life.
The backup story, “Triceratots” from writer Erika Anderson and artist Michael Dialynas is much more light-hearted, featuring a pair of children playing near Zom’s ship before it heads off to battle. It’s a nice way to close out the issue after the stark conclusion to the previous tale.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe made me care about the Triceratons. This was a race of aliens that were thrust upon us as the Turtles left Dimension X with little fanfare or explanation. Here we learn their backstory and what makes them tick. It’s a great origin story that somehow makes talking dinosaur soldiers relatable.