Now that the Triceraton War is over, everything is fine and all alien races are living peacefully together on Earth…right? Well, sort of. See, the Triceratons keep getting the short end of the stick. They were promised a home on Earth by the Neutrinos in Dimension X, only to be met with war. Now they’re over on Burnow Island, which is currently inhabited by a handful of Utroms who greet them with, you guessed it, war. Donatello is called in to negotiate a peace treaty so they can all live together on the island. He just has to do that before they all kill each other.
The dynamic between these two forces is interesting. The Triceratons dramatically outnumber the Utroms, plus they’re way stronger. They could probably just overrun the Utroms, but they’ve realized that things don’t always work out when they run in guns blazing, especially after what they just went through in Manhattan. The Utroms are resistant to these new guests, since they used to look down on them as nothing more than slaves. Now they’re forced to see them as equals, which is not being handled well by some of them.
In the middle of all this is Donatello. A character that avoids conflict is tasked with mitigating one. You can see how ineffectual he is, reduced to little more than a note taker in the meetings. He’s not the star of this story. That goes to the intrigue and conspiracy going on between the two groups. This treaty has the potential to unite to ailing species and bring in a new age of prosperity for a secluded and safe spot on Earth. It can also destroy them both.
Artist Mark Torres has the unenviable job of differentiating characters among species that all look alike. There are times when a number of Triceratons and/or Utroms are on the page and it can be tough to tell them apart. Aided by colorist Ronda Pattison, there’s enough of a mix to tell who’s who, but with the exception of the leaders on either side, there’s not a lot of personality or development just yet.
Torres manages to make the Utroms look intimidating which is no easy task. These are little pink blobs that could easily be stepped on and destroyed. This is especially true for Lieutenant Kleve, the Utrom who violently opposes an alliance with the Triceratons. He has a mohawk of sorts that he wears like a peacock shows its feathers. His tendrils are whip-like and fast, able to wrap around someone’s throat or form into a spike to poke out their eyes. He is not to be underestimated.
There’s a major reveal towards the end of this story that forces you to adjust how you view the Triceratons. Writer Paul Allor handles it well, teasing it at first before laying it all out there in dramatic fashion. Up until this point, we’ve seen these dinosaur creatures as noble outcasts, looking for a home, but only finding battle. The Utroms have been the evil taskmasters, ruling over them for so long. The Triceratons are not entirely innocent, and we learn of a rather unsettling element from their past that could put this whole treaty in jeopardy. It certainly heightens the tension amid negotiations.
Also included in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #21 is a fun back-up showing what Woody, the pizza delivery boy was up to during the Triceraton War. This short story is the kind of stuff you can only find in this series as it would never appear in the regular ongoing title. It’s a crazy, explosion-filled tale of a laid-back guy who just wants to deliver some pizza. Writer Caleb Goellner, artist Pablo Tunica, and colorist Patricio Delpeche bring some laughs to the otherwise somber issue. It’s great to see all this chaos and violence blow up around Woody as he drives his little moped through the city.