Raphael And Alopex Team Up For A Special Mission In TMNT Universe #19

by James Ferguson

With everything going on with the Triceratons lately, it’s easy to forget the other plates left spinning in the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. TMNT Universe #19 follows up on Null Industries, a strange company with some shady dealings with mutants. Raphael and Alopex go on a recon mission to learn more information which quickly turns into a fight. I mean, Raphael isn’t exactly known for his stealth capabilities.

Raph and Alopex make a great team. They balance each other out. His brash side is countered by her calmer nature. They work together well to infiltrate the Null Industries building in a series of great panels illustrated by artist Dave Wachter. This is shown silently as they avoid guards and look for the right path inside.

Wachter often repeats a panel with some slight variation to show the passage of time or a change in emotion. We see this as Raphael and Alopex hide from a guard in a shadowy corridor with only their eyes visible. When the guard turns back for a moment, they disappear only to pop out again when the guard continues. I love the detail that went into these sequences.

The action heats up when the scorpion mutant Zodi shows up. She’s working for Null and has been heavily involved in whatever shenanigans the company is working on.  Zodi makes for a great villain against this duo. She’s very cocky and she has a definite attitude that grates on Raphael and makes Alopex’s fur rise. This, of course, leads to mistakes in battle.

Zodi’s design is fierce and menacing. She is built for fighting. She knows this and revels in it. I wonder what she was like before she was a mutant. If she was a scorpion, that’s one thing, but she could have been a human first. What kind of person would she have been?

There’s a bit too much of an exposition dump in this scene for my tastes. At one point Raph flat out asks Zodi what’s going on and the villain gleefully tells them, laying out all the details. Some of it has been implied based on what has been seen in the building already, but to have everything exposed in a few paragraphs by the bad guy who has no incentive to share this information is rather anti-climactic.

The plan itself, which I won’t spoil here, could have some pretty dire consequences for the mutant community at large. It was one thing when there were a handful of them here or there, but to have any affiliation with Null is going to be bad news.

The backup story by writer Bobby Curnow and artist Pablo Tunica, is a prelude to “Kingdom of Rats” an upcoming storyline set to kick off in TMNT #81. You can probably tell from the name that it deals with the Rat King, which is easily one of the Turtles’ creepiest foes. He returns to New York to find the city on fire, presumably as a result of the battle with the Triceratons. I love getting a glimpse at an upcoming story like this. I’m just bummed we’re going to have to wait a few months to see it play out.

I’m glad we’re getting some follow up on some dangling plot threads in TMNT Universe. The fact that this stars my favorite Ninja Turtle is a definite plus. This looks to be planting seeds for future tales, ensuring that the Turtles will have their hands full for some time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #19 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.