Leonardo travels to the astral plane to continue strengthening his mind and spirit in addition to his body. He enters a trippy land where his very thoughts control the environment around him. He was not expecting to go head-to-head with Kitsune. Leo must use all of his training if he hopes to survive.
The breakout character of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #25 is Dan, an adorable pudgy little critter that first appears as a statue. He drops some knowledge on Leo to help him better understand his surroundings. This little guy is a laid back spiritual guru and you can’t help but fall in love with him.
Artist Nelson Daniel delivers some absolutely gorgeous work in this issue. The astral plane is not like our world. The laws of physics don’t apply. The ground swells and turns with each passing moment. The land changes based on the will of those within it. This makes for an impressive showdown between Leo and Kitsune as they’re two very strong-willed individuals. The battle boils down to who wants to win more.
The colors within this world are lighter shades than what we typically see in a Ninja Turtles comic. They border on the pastel, which adds to the whimsical nature of the astral plane. Kitsune is the opposite of this, looking darker and more menacing than anything else that shows up here.
Leo first appears in the astral plane without his signature blue bandanna. He’s completely naked, but you know, as a turtle. He quickly replaces those with a wave of blue energy that swirls around his eyes and waist. This gives him an electric quality and adds some intensity to his movements.
The real treat in TMNT Universe #25 comes in Kitsune’s warrior creation. She uses one of her many fox tails as a brush, painting a dark version of Splinter, but in Shredder’s costume, blades and all. This creates a horrifying version of Leo’s father as he’s forced to confront his daddy issues head on. Daniel expertly choreographs this fight with some dynamic panel layouts.
Shawn Lee’s letters stand out for Kitsune and faux-Splinter, appearing in different colored word balloons. They tend to yell a lot more, so their dialogue looks more intense. Splinter’s words are in a rougher font, making them come across as more guttural and savage.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #25 ends with some solid brother tie as Leo returns from his trip to the astral plane and is welcomed by those closest to him. There’s a note on the very last page that thanks us for exploring the universe with us that sounds like this series is ending. If that’s the case, it would be a real bummer as this has been a welcome addition to the TMNT line, telling stories that would not fit within the main comic.
If this is the end it’s a great finale. Writer Ian Flynn delivered a solid character journey for Leonardo that made me really appreciate him as a character. I always dismissed Leo as the teacher’s pet who always played by the rules. This story gives him some more depth and fleshes him out more which is very much welcomed.