The Triceraton War Starts Up Again In TMNT #86

by James Ferguson

You may have thought the Triceraton War was over, but it was just taking a breather. Agent Bishop has invaded Burnow Island with the full force of the EPF in an effort to keep the planet safe from the anthropomorphic dinosaurs. The Ninja Turtles learn of this attack and face a crisis of conscience. Sure, they helped relocate the Triceratons, but is this their fight?

This debate was somewhat unexpected in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it was very much welcomed. These are heroes through and through, however, how far out do their responsibilities lie? They’re already stretched pretty thin just trying to protect Manhattan, which is still rebuilding after the Triceraton War. The alien species proved themselves to be formidable in battle, so what can four Turtles do to help?

You know that they’ll eventually get involved, but the twists and turns in this debate between the Turtles is riveting. It’s split down the middle with some surprising alliances developed. Writer Tom Waltz brings up some excellent points that speak to a greater theme about doing good that I’m sure can be used as a metaphor for the global theater in real life. What role does a country like the United States of America have in keeping peace in a foreign country?

The invasion of Burnow Island is reminiscent of that of Normandy during World War II. The EPF troops hit the beach in force running up the sand to attack. The Triceratons and their new and uneasy allies, the Utroms, have to think quickly to prepare a defense. They just got done with a treaty and figuring out how to live together. Now they have to gather their forces to fight again.

Colorist Ronda Pattison gives these scenes a dreary look, like the sun has set on Burnow Island and it may never rise again. There is no hope in this war, only death. The battlefield is illuminated only by the laser fire from the Utroms and the explosions coming from the EPF.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of all this is how Bishop continues to use Slash as a puppet. This has been the case for some time. The poor mutant has been controlled by Bishop, mimicking what the agent does like a monstrous shadow. He’s been forced to act out many horrible and violent acts. Artist Dave Wachter has some terrific panels with Slash landing on the scene like a mindless automaton that are absolutely chilling.

When Slash really gets going, the panels are filled with some sickening sound effects. He’s literally tearing the Utrom forces apart to expose their tiny brain-like bodies within, like cracking open a peanut. This happens with a frightening SHRIIIP sound that pops off the page. I’m not sure if this was created by Wachter or from letterer Shawn Lee. Some of the sound effects are blended in with the art and others look like they were added on top of it. In any case, they’re solid throughout the entire issue.

I thought we had enough of the Triceratons for a bit, but after reading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #86, I am happy to say I was wrong. This issue brings a number of characters together and rockets some plot lines forward. It’s like a payoff for a number of issues of TMNT Universe. It also keeps a few more plates spinning, such as Baxter Stockman’s run for mayor of New York, that will surely play a large part in future issues.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #86 from IDW Publishing is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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