The Rat King is taking advantage of the chaos and confusion that has engulfed Manhattan in the wake of the Triceraton War to kill some innocent children. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cannot let that stand. After taking a brief detour to talk to some of the Rat King’s family, they confront the godlike being head on in a climactic battle.
I have to question the path the Turtles took to get to this point. While the previous issues in this arc have been interesting, they seem unnecessary as they didn’t really use any information gained in the fight. In hindsight, it seems like they’re running from Rat King until they were forced to go head-to-head with him. Plus, in the end, they can’t really claim credit for his defeat.
The Rat King and his forces present a large and frightening threat. You have the man himself, pulling strings from afar and avoiding every attack that comes his way while constantly taunting the Turtles. On one side is a horde of rats which is unsettling enough on its own. Then, on the other side is a group of children who were Rat King’s intended victims. They’ve been brainwashed and are trying to viciously attack the Turtles. The heroes on a half shell can’t beat up these kids as they’re innocent in this whole thing.
Artist Dave Wachter already draws some excellent Turtles. Here his strengths lie in the Rat King and just how creepy the guy can be. There are times we get nothing but a close-up of his disturbing smile as he delights in the chaos he’s created and that easily sends a shiver up your spine. His confidence is what becomes even more scary. This is a man who is not used to losing. He always gets what he wants and he has no worry or concern that it won’t happen here again.
When the Rat King unleashes his power, it is a terrifying sight. He grows larger and more intimidating. His rag-like clothes wave around him like that of a mummy. His fingers end in razor-sharp claws ready to tear apart anything that gets in his way. In short: He’s horrifying.
This creepy quality extends to his speech as well. Letterer Shawn Lee uses a drab, beige-colored word balloon for the Rat King’s words. It’s like it’s made of human flesh, which would not be surprising.
Ronda Pattison’s colors set the tone for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #84. The battle takes place on a broken bridge in the middle of the night. We already know the Turtles are up against a stronger force so the darkness that surrounds them seems to suck out any and all hope. The sun isn’t going to suddenly rise and clear everything up.
“Kingdom of Rats” comes to a close with TMNT #84, not with a bang, but a whimper. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. This wasn’t a horrible ending. If anything, it works to set up the next arc which seems bigger and more important to the overall narrative. I’ve said in previous reviews that the Turtles seem way out of their element when dealing with godlike beings like the Rat King. Plus, I figured Splinter would be more involved given how this guy controls rats. In any case, writer Tom Waltz wraps up this arc by preparing for the next one with some interesting twists and turns.