Someone is kidnapping mutants and the Ninja Turtles are determined to find out who. What better way to trap this culprit than by posing as a mutant and getting kidnapped? That shouldn’t be too hard because…you know…they’re mutants. Unfortunately, April gets stuck with this task and dresses up as a silverfish, much to the dismay of Mikey who wanted the job. The night is a dud until Meat Sweats pops in.
Let’s stop for a second and admire the sheer awesomeness of the Ninja Turtles villains. For 35 years, this franchise has pumped out some of the greatest bad guys with the goofiest names and it’s still doing it. Meat Sweats is a mutant pig chef. Let that sink in for a minute. Artist Chad Thomas makes him look just as greasy and disgusting as you’d expect. He’s like one of the three little pigs, but he made his house out of meat instead of straw, sticks, or bricks.
The inevitable fight with Meat Sweats is dynamic and well choreographed. Thomas varies the panel layout, making every page different. The images flow with each attack, keeping your eye focused on the action. There’s a great sequence where Meat Sweats is hit low in one panel from Leo and high in the other from Donnie, making this cool book-end split.
The gross nature of Meat Sweats contrasts well with the bright, colorful nature of the Turtles. Colorist Heather Breckel uses this sickly pink shade for the villain, almost like expired cold cuts. You can practically feel the grease coming off him. The Turtles look full of life as they barge into his kitchen to rescue their friends.
Since this is based on a cartoon, we get a fair amount of gags and fun antics. Writer Matthew K. Manning weaves in just the right amount, keeping a good balance between the comedy and the action. It never feels too serious or too silly. You can laugh one moment and then marvel at the fight scenes the next.
Letterer Christa Miesner helps with some of the more comedic elements, using some more elaborate word balloons or fonts to get an additional laugh. For example, when Raph loses control of his motorcycle and goes through some trees, he yells “Shrubbery!” in this drawn out, explosive manner that just makes me laugh every time I see it.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a super fun comic perfect for fans of all ages. I grew up with these characters and a book like this puts them in new and hilarious situations that I absolutely love. It also gives us Turtles for a new generation of kids that might see the original cartoons as a bit outdated (and I will be the first to admit that some of those have not aged well).