Two titans of pop culture come together again as Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles enters its third – and sadly, final – mini-series. We’ve had the Turtles in Gotham and Batman in New York and now we have something in between. Somehow, the two worlds have merged together, creating mash-ups of popular characters. We’ve got Clayface and Rocksteady, Killer Croc and Bebop, Joker and the Shredder, and the Turtles and the Robins. Batman seems to stand on his own and he’s starting to see the cracks in this made-up world. Something’s not right and the Caped Crusader is going to get to the bottom of it.
Of all the mash-ups on display in Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, my favorite is definitely the Turtles and the Robins. It’s amazing how perfectly they match up. The one that really stands out for me is Raphael and the Red Hood and not just because the colors are a perfect fit. The attitudes align so well and you can see elements of each character in there. The same can be said for the others. It’s an absolute joy to see.
Much of this is attributable to artist Freddie E. Williams II. He brings an unparalleled energy to every panel, particularly the fight scenes. At times it feels like they’re going to burst right off the page. Some of the more heated sequences are surrounded in a rougher outline, like the borders can’t hold in the action.
Williams brings out the core essence of each character, even in these mash-ups. You can understand a lot about them based on their facial expressions and how they carry themselves. There’s real love between Batman, the Turtles, and Alfred / Splinter. When one of them is down, they all rally together to unite and boost them up, whether that’s on the battlefield or in the lair.
These two franchises mix together pretty well as they both deal with similar street-level antics. There’s a gritty quality to both worlds. Colorist Jeremy Colwell brings this out wonderfully. There’s a healthy mix of the bright and colorful with some of the costumes and villains, but it’s grounded by the setting and the action. These guys aren’t shooting lasers out of their eyes or leaping tall buildings with a single bound. They’re scrappy and it shows.
I know I spent some time talking about how much I love the mash-ups of the Turtles and the Robins, but I have to give props to the Shredder / Joker hybrid. The Clown Prince of Crime is decked out in blades from head to toe and a metal mask painted with his signature smile. He even speaks in a creepy fashion, as captured by letterer Tom Napolitano. He has a lilting voice that sends chills up my spine.
As if this amalgamation of worlds wasn’t enough of a twist, writer James Tynion IV packs two whoppers at the end of this first issue. I was already excited at the idea of another adventure with all these characters, but the final pages of this chapter take that excitement up to another level. We’re talking jaw-dropping stuff here. If this is really the final mini-series of this team-up, it’s going to go out with a bang.