Donatello drew the short straw it seems and has the tough job of brokering a peace treaty between two alien races that have been at each other’s throats for years. The Utroms and the Triceratons are forced to live together on Burnow Island. The key word in that sentence is “live” although it’s not clear how long they’ll be able to do that. Despite the uphill battle, it looks like some kind of truce will be struck, however this tenuous peace could be shattered by an assassin’s bullet.
As much as I ragged on Donnie in my review for the last issue, he really steps up in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #22. He puts his detective hat on to get to the bottom of this. The stakes could not be higher too so this is a high stress situation. Donatello has to figure out who is conspiring against this treaty and stop them before they destroy everything in order to save countless lives, not only on Burnow Island, but potentially the rest of the world as we’ve already seen what both of these races can do. No pressure, Donnie.
Donatello uses his brains both in and out of combat. There’s a great sequence where he has to out-think his opponent and comes up with some pretty creative ways to incapacitate his enemy. It’s no surprise that there’s a Utrom at the heart of this conspiracy and I will admit that it’s pretty humorous to see a little pink brain wielding a massive rifle. That’s something I didn’t know I wanted to see before it popped up in this comic and I’m so glad it exists. Thank you, artist Mark Torres.
There are several more comedic moments that pop up throughout TMNT Universe #22. They serve as good ways to break the tension as it builds up quickly and repeatedly. This could have been a very dry and dark comic. Instead, it’s a well-balanced tale with just the right amount of humor to offset some of the more somber beats.
Although there’s a large amount of exposition in this issue, writer Paul Allor breaks it up and delivers it in interesting ways. It never feels like an info dump. It comes across more like a great detective revealing the culprit or a lawyer delivering his closing arguments. The dialogue is concise and to the point. More importantly, it is impactful, particularly towards the end. Donatello’s words have to move someone enough to change their mind about something that they so much want to believe. I know this all sounds a little vague because I don’t want to spoil anything. Trust me when I say that it’s a solid way to wrap up this story.
Shadow is used very well in TMNT Universe #22. It helps convey the gravitas of specific scenes and moments, especially when some tough decisions arise. Colorist Ronda Pattison adds a darker tone to signify the importance of these segments.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe provides as a solid epilogue to the War of the Triceratons arc in the main title. The Triceratons may have been relocated away from the human population, but their story is not done. Based on the way this wraps up, there’s definitely more to explore with these characters. The Utroms are still very much a threat.
This issue also includes a backup story focusing on Leatherhead. I really like the IDW version of this character. He’s conflicted about who he is. He is constantly fighting against his own animal instincts to try to be a better person, going against his very nature. Artist Chris Johnson and colorist Mark Englert did a phenomenal job with this short. It is absolutely gorgeous and really shows both sides of Leatherhead. We see him as a noble wanderer and as a fierce warrior. Writer Ross May chronicles the character’s internal struggle with some fitting narration, too.