The Rat King prepares a devastating attack on New York City in the wake of the Triceraton War. Leonardo saw this in a vision and has to figure out how to stop this evil before he takes the lives of countless children. This has led him and his brothers to an unlikely ally in the Rat King’s brother, Toad Baron. Can the Turtles get through to this entity of bacchanalia in time?
I’ve been critical of some of the recent Ninja Turtle adventures because they seemed a little too out there and certainly away from their wheelhouse of street level crime. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #82 has won me back by blending god-like beings with the kind of absurdity that has always been along for the ride with the Heroes on a Half Shell. It helps that writer Tom Waltz packs this issue with so much snappy dialogue too.
To set the stage, the Turtles arrive at Toad Baron’s place where they’re confronted by three of his minions. These adorable little guys try to fight off the intruders with a broom, an umbrella, and nunchuks made of bananas. Remember how crazy and outright bizarre the first Ninja Turtles cartoon was? That is on full display here and I love it.
After facing the Triceratons, Krang, the Foot Clan, and all other manner of monsters, the Turtles almost don’t know what to do in this situation. Donatello breaks down and just starts laughing hysterically. Raphael restrains himself and gives a verbal smackdown. Michelangelo…gets covered in bananas. The brothers look very much like the formidable warriors they are, ready for anything, but maybe not this.
Artist Dave Wachter was born to draw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The details his pencils include are incredible. You can see the individual lines on the shells and even some scales at some points. More importantly, each Turtle has a different design that speaks to their personality. Mikey is wide-eyed and innocent. Raph is gruff and strong. Donnie is taller and a little unsure of himself. Leo is confident and in control. Colorist Ronda Pattison completes the package with a unique shade for each brother.
Toad Baron’s place is made for entertaining, complete with a huge feast of decadent delights from across the universe. This is where the bizarre factor is upped again because the feast is made up of some of the strangest items I’ve ever seen. It’s tough to call these things food, but they’re clearly edible to some, especially Michelangelo. My favorite aspect of this sequence is a gag that starts here and pays off later on with a chicken leg. I don’t want to ruin the joke but it is so worth it and expertly timed.
Toad Baron is not without his defenses as Raphael quickly learns when he tries to touch him and ends up vomiting uncontrollably. This leads to a great running gag throughout the entire issue. I’m happy to see that even though I’ve gotten older, barf is still funny. This was a completely unexpected moment and Wachter absolutely nails it.
While the Turtles are looking for ways to stop the Rat King, Agent Bishop and the Earth Protection Force are making moves of their own. This shows that the Turtles’ lives are like spinning plates. They can turn their attention to one threat only to allow another to grow elsewhere. Bishop is very dangerous, especially since he controls Slash. They’re going to have to deal with this soon, although that puts them in a direct confrontation with the government so it could get dicey.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #82 grounds the team a bit while still allowing them to deal with omega level god-like entities. It just works. It helps that there’s a great blend between the crazy world they’ve occupied for over thirty years and modern day carnage. This issue moves from the fun to the frightening as we realize the full extent of the Rat King’s intentions.