I thought I knew where Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was going with the first issue but then everything took an insane turn with the final page. If this is the end of a trilogy, it’s going out in a big way. The storyline is called “Crisis in a Half Shell.” Let that sink in for a moment. Do you have an idea of the possibilities? Well, we’re just scratching the surface.
The Raphael from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics has appeared in this world full of mash-ups of TMNT and the DC Universe. His story is similar to what we saw play out some time ago in Crisis on Infinite Earths, although it’s doubled. See, Krang has taken control of the Anti-Monitor and he’s not satisfied with conquering just one multiverse. He wants two!
Although this is somewhat of a retread of the monumental DC storyline, it has a fresh take with the additional characters. There’s a lot of exposition in this issue, but it never feels too wordy. It’s consistently riveting. Letterer Tom Napolitano uses a scratchier font for Raphael’s word balloons, further distinguishing him as an outsider.
Artist and TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman handles the OG Raphael images along with his flashbacks and they’re absolutely gorgeous. I love the gritty look to him and how he contrasts to series artist Freddie E. Williams II’s style. He’s very much out of his element, but he’s determined to save not just his world, but everyone else’s too.
Of course, he’s shown in black and white too which adds to his stranger in a strange land mentality. Colorist Jeremy Colwell has already made a gorgeous world in this mash-up universe. Raph looks out of place here and more than a little uncomfortable. We see another Batman in the mix and he appears brighter than the one in the main series. He’s from a different era and a different world so this makes total sense.
You can’t have a super hero team up without a fight first and Williams delivers some excellent fight choreography between Classic Raphael and Batman. There’s a nice after-image effect showing how the two square off like a perfect dance. They’re so evenly matched.
I can’t tell you how much my inner child is freaking out right now. Heck, my adult self is freaking out right now. Writer James Tynion IV is crafting one of the most epic and awe-inspiring stories with two of my all-time favorite franchises. Imagine the other iterations of the Ninja Turtles we could see, not to mention all the different versions of Batman could pop up. We’re only two issues in and this has become one of my favorite series of the year.