What Can A Hockey Stick Do Against A Dinosaur? Find Out In TMNT #78

by James Ferguson

The Triceratons have landed on Earth and have practically taken over the island of Manhattan. Local law enforcement is doing what they can to keep the warriors at bay. Meanwhile, Spliter has struck a deal with Bishop and the Earth Protection Force to fight this invading force. The Ninja Turtles try to reason with their father as they realize that this violence is a result of a huge misunderstanding. The war is escalating and it looks like there’s only going to be more bloodshed before this is over.

It’s scary to think of New York City being invaded. The Triceratons are not messing around, having destroyed almost all of the bridges leading into the city, effectively cutting it off from the rest of the country. They’re using advanced alien weaponry including jetpacks, laser guns, and spaceships to decimate the NYPD. Plus, they are literal dinosaurs.

I say all this to lead into one of the strangest, although still rather cool, fights of this war. A couple Triceratons performing reconnaissance threaten an old homeless man and Casey Jones and the Purple Dragons come at them. On one side you have two of the fiercest warriors in two dimensions. On the other, you have a street gang with baseball bats and hockey sticks. As much as I love Casey Jones, he is so out of his weight class here.

You’d think this would be a one-sided battle. My initial moment of excitement at seeing Casey and the Purple Dragons show up in an awesome shot faded quickly when I realized they would be destroyed. The fight doesn’t go the way you’d think, as this is a scrappy group of guys. It’s a pretty exciting scene that includes a few surprises and even an unexpected guest. It shows how people can band together in moments of crisis.

Artist Damian Couceiro highlights all the right details in this fight. There’s a great double page spread that’s broken up into a bunch of smaller panels, each focusing on a specific and monumental action. It’s very cinematic in its choreography. Couceiro bounces between close-up reaction shots (my favorite being Casey’s look of dismay when his hockey stick breaks in half over a Triceraton’s head doing absolutely no damage) and some widescreen action images that show the depth of the battle.

The Turtles have an emotional exchange with Splinter, calling on his help to put a stop to this bloodshed across the city. The dialogue here from writer Tom Waltz is pitch perfect, underscoring the conflict these two parties have had for some time. It’s chilling to see how much their father has changed since taking over the Foot Clan. He’s not wrong in his thoughts or actions. It’s just that it seems to fly in the face of everything the Turtles have come to represent. He wants to protect his sons, but they don’t necessarily need his protection. They’ve outgrown him.

The war for Manhattan is going to get worse before it gets better. I don’t see a way out of this for some of the parties involved. It’s poised to leave a lasting mark on the city as well as create further distance between the Turtles and Splinter. It has the potential to put the public spotlight on the mutants that have up until this point been lurking in the shadows.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #78 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.