The Joker Rises To Next Level Villainy In Batman / TMNT III #4

by James Ferguson

Now that their eyes have been opened, Batman and the Ninja Turtles have set out to bring their separate worlds back from the frightening team-up between the Anti-Monitor and Krang. That means joining forces with a sworn enemy in the Shredder. Will that be enough to take down the Joker and the Smile Clan and set everything right? The fate of two multiverses hangs in the balance, hinging on the mind of a madman.

We reach this part in just about every alternate reality story where some characters realize this world is fake and have to go around “waking up” other people to overthrow the creators. We’re very much in that stage in Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #4. This issue has the group giving red pills to Shredder, Casey Jones and hopefully the Joker. The more folks they swing to their side, the greater change they have of stopping Krang. While this trope is a little predictable, it is necessary. I honestly don’t know how else the story can unfold.

One thing I don’t entirely understand in Batman / TMNT III is how the mash-up of the two worlds works. At first I thought the Joker and Shredder were merged into one person, but it’s clear that they were two separate people here. The Joker just took on some of the appearance, mannerisms, and personality of the Shredder, while Oroku Saki was out there being a regular dude. The same thing happened with Alfred while Splinter was playing the role of the butler. I don’t really get how that works.

This doesn’t take away too much from writer James Tynion IV’s story. I quickly became engrossed with the battle against the Joker as he truly represents a wild card. It’s easy to figure out how most people will react to the news that this reality is false. It was how the Turtles knew they could wake up Shredder and move on with the plan. They don’t have that guarantee with the Joker.

Artist Freddie E. Williams II’s designs for this Joker are some next level stuff. He’s every bit the fierce warrior that Shredder is, with a frightening grin and a look of chaos in his eyes. The mask it what does it for me. It has a sickening smile painted on it. Nothing about his actions would produce a smile in any normal person, but of course, the Joker is the farthest thing from normal.

Letterer Tom Napolitano uses an italicized, erratic font for the Joker’s speech. This adds a nice touch to the creepy nature of the character and amplifies his unpredictable quality. You never know if the Joker is going to compliment you or tear you a new one.

As the action heats up, Williams II varies the panel layout to match. The borders of the images become erratic to coincide with the fight scenes. It’s like they’re having trouble containing the battle.

The street level grit of Batman melds well with that of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, along with the sci-fi element of both worlds. While the Caped Crusader doesn’t always deal with aliens and mutants, he does live in the same universe as all kinds of creatures. The same can be said for the Turtles. It’s when they all come into contact with something truly out of this world that things get crazy. Colorist Jeremy Colwell makes these elements pop on the page with an eerie glow, furthering their unnatural energy. When something like this comes up, you know that you’re in for something big.

Any time you cross worlds, it usually translates to an epic story. Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is way past epic. We’re looking at universe-shattering events here. We knew things were going to be intense, but the chaotic nature of the Joker throws a money wrench into the works. How can this group save the multiverse if there’s someone willing to watch it all burn to the ground working against them?

Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #4 from DC Comics and IDW Publishing is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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