TMNT #101 Is A Foreboding Beginning To A New Era

by James Ferguson

Splinter is dead and a chunk of New York City has been hit with a mutagen bomb, turning a number of citizens into mutants. Mayor Baxter Stockman has placed this area under quarantine, building a wall around it to keep everyone in. Raphael has stayed here to keep the other mutants safe while this brothers are still figuring out what to do next. The new age of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has begun and it’s a dark one.

Writer / artist Sophie Campbell eases us into this new status quo with some powerful imagery. We really take in the sadness felt by the Turtles by the loss of their father. The first two pages are presented without a single word of text and they speak volumes. You can see how Splinter’s death has shattered the family dynamic. This is just the tip of the iceberg for Campbell’s artistic talents in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101.

Mutant Town in NYC is a dystopian wasteland. The buildings are in shambles and there’s a dark cloud hanging over this area. Colorist Ronda Pattison makes this look incredibly dreary, contrasting with the bright, lively world of the country where the other Turtles are dwelling. Although Donnie, Mikey, and Leo are out of the action, they are at peace, or at least what passes for it as they deal with their grief in different ways.

Donatello narrates the opening of this issue. His words are shown as excerpts of his journal, getting us all up to speed. Letterer Shawn Lee uses a nice font that looks handwritten. The caption boxes are like pieces of looseleaf paper, keeping with the journal aesthetic. This was a nice way to dump a lot of exposition on us without feeling like a history lesson.

Campbell’s artwork brings out the personality in each character. This is especially true for Jenny who is still trying to figure out how to face the world now that she’s a mutant. Her old life is over, but that doesn’t mean she has to stop living. There’s a warmth and innocence to her, coupled with an inner strength.

My only problem with TMNT #101 is the dialogue, particularly for Jenny. She was always a strong character and now she’s talking like a teenage girl with many “likes” and tangents. While this might be how normal people speak, it comes across as juvenile and off in this context. One could argue that since Jenny is finding herself again that she’s lost some of her confidence, thus changing the way she speaks, but it doesn’t jive with how she acts or her nature.

The Turtles have been through quite a lot over the years, but nothing has broken the team like the past few months. The effects of City at War are still being felt and the consequences spread out far and wide, affecting not just the Turtles, but all mutants and a huge chunk of New York City. It’s a dark time, but there’s a glimmer of hope shining through.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101 from IDW Publishing is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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