Donatello is tired of being pushed around. Desperate to prove himself a worthy fighter and to make up for his mistakes that led to Bane taking over the Foot Clan and terrorizing New York, Donnie injects himself with Venom and goes on the offensive. Leonardo and Batman have to rein in the rogue turtle before he does something he regrets. Meanwhile, Splinter is on death’s door so Damian and Raphael bring the mutant rat to a Lazarus Pit.
The image of a venom-filled Donatello is frightening to say the least. He’s massive in every sense of the word with muscles on top of muscles, plus he’s at least twice the size he normally is. I love the way artist Freddie Williams II draws Bane and the other characters when they hulk out on venom. They’re larger than life. This really shows the dramatic effects it has on people and reinforces just how dangerous they are when the anger takes hold.
The panel themselves are rougher when Donnie lets loose, like the borders are struggling to keep in his rage-fueled strength. This is a really great effect that adds to the scene. Every blow that Donnie throws feels like it might shatter the panel and spill off the page.
There are some cheesy, after school special type lines that follow as Batman and Leo have to convince Donatello that he has always been a valuable member of the team. He can help them win with his mind, not his fists. The real strength was inside him the whole time. I can forgive this as it’s partnered with Donnie’s admissions of self-doubt. Here he faces two people that have never had to question their fighting ability. They’ve rarely been defeated in battle. They couldn’t possibly know how he feels, having to constantly wrestle with the idea of not being good enough.
The scene with Splinter and the Lazarus Pit has some great setup that ultimately doesn’t lead to a payoff. Damian explains that people come out of the Pit crazed and often lash out before returning to their normal selves. This is followed by Raph pointing out that Splinter is the most skilled ninja he’s ever known. This sounds like there’s going to be a crazy fight with Raphael, Damian, Nightwing, and Batgirl on one side and Splinter on the other. We don’t really see what happens aside from a quick image of them all fighting some unexplained mutant bat creatures. While that looked cool, it was a bit of a letdown. This was a cool idea to include, but ultimately didn’t add anything to the overall narrative.
Bane’s final plan is revealed and it’s more than a little complicated. I don’t really understand how it could all play out or why people voluntarily went to Liberty Island (which is not easy to get to) to basically enter internment camps. It feels like a convoluted way to get a bunch of people together that may get infected by venom, and thus create an even larger army for the heroes to fight. As if the majority of the Foot Clan, Bebop, Rocksteady, and Bane weren’t enough.
That being said, the explanation is told over an amazing spread showing Bane towering over the city with his henchmen below. It’s a gorgeous splash page that shows how menacing and powerful this villain is. The Ninja Turtles and the Bat Family are the only ones that can stop this from getting even worse.
Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #5 makes some structural leaps to set up the final chapter, but it’s still a very satisfying read. At one point, Michelangelo even comments on how crazy this is, even for them, which is a nice touch from dialogue writer Ryan Ferrier. That’s saying something considering the bizarre characters the Turtles usually face. This issue includes some historic meetings such as Nightwing and Leonardo, which is just as great a pairing as Damian and Raphael. This continues to be a fanboy’s dream. It’s clear that plot writer James Tynion IV cares deeply about both franchises.