The spotlight turns to Leonardo in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Macro-Series. The leader of the group has taken his brothers out to the country for some training and to regroup after some recent events. No one wants to practice meditation so Leo heads out for a walk only to come face to face with a more deadly Koya who’s looking for revenge.
Koya’s journey was seen in an arc in TMNT Universe which was also done by writer / artist Sophie Campbell. Here, Campbell outdoes herself with some jaw-dropping artwork matched with a dynamite story. It hits on multiple marks.
Let’s start with Leonardo. I never really cared for this character, but that could be because I didn’t understand him. Raph was the cool guy, Mikey was the fun one, and Donny was the nerd. That left Leo to be the goody two-shoes. He was boring when compared to his brother. Campbell brings out the best qualities of him and really does him justice.
The thing about Leo is that he leads partially because he has to. His brothers can’t or won’t fulfill that role so it’s fallen on him. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he mostly does this out of love to his brothers. He does what he does to protect them and that’s so very honorable.
This quality comes through in his battle with Koya as he realizes how his actions have affected her. They fought in the past and this took away her wings, something that was core to her very being. It’s no wonder she’s wanted to tear him apart ever since. Leo sees the error in his ways and turns the tables on the fight by stopping it altogether. It leads to a strange standoff.
Before we get that, Campbell creates some of the most dynamic artwork I’ve seen in recent memory. The battle flows across multiple pages and areas in the forest, going from the ground to the air and back again. The panel layout is varied and nothing short of impressive. There’s one page that is full of smaller panels, each showing a strike from these powerful warriors. You can feel the intensity of each attack.
The level of detail on Koya is astonishing. Her wings have been clipped, but a few feathers remain as an eerie reminder of what once was. Brittany Peer’s colors explode on the page in a brilliant blue to illustrate Koya’s new supernatural wings, powered by her own hate and anger. The fight as a whole is shaded in blues, creating an almost otherworldly scene.
The sound effects of the battle are part of the artwork, spiraling around the characters as they perform this dance of death. This adds so much to the action and excitement of the scene as the sound feels like it’s alive.
The dialogue and internal narration is sparse as Campbell’s artwork speaks volumes. Letterer Shawn Lee peppers in these infrequent words in just the right spots where they’ll have the most impact. It’s amazing how powerful some of these small statements can be in the right moment.
This is, hands-down, one of the best Ninja Turtles comics you’ll ever read. It provided me with a newfound appreciation for Leonardo. Sophie Campbell is a brilliant storyteller and I cannot wait to see what she does next. Plus, this issue builds on a number of elements that will undoubtedly lead up to the next big thing in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s a must read.