The Turtles and Mutanimals are caught in the middle as Mutant Town’s residents begin to choose sides and the future of the neighborhood begins to take shape.
Ever since the new creative team came aboard, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has dealt with a bevy of topics from grief/depression to the building of new cultures in the mutated portion of New York City to a horror movie style story in the sewers and even a Home Alone style protection of the Turtle’s home. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #112 the series takes a turn into the deep divisions within the new Mutant Town and into the world of politics.
In modern ongoing comic book series, when a new creative team comes in there is more often than not a resetting of the pieces and a departure from the previous storyline, if not a full-on relaunch of the title (often with a new adjective tossed in to differentiate from the last book). Since Sophie Campbell took over as writer with issue #100, with a bit of a shuffling art team that has included herself at times on art duties, that hasn’t been the case for this series as it’s very much taking everything that came before and pushing forward into new levels. The Hamato clan Turtles (Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo) have been able to actually live somewhat of a ‘normal’ life and not have to be hidden in sewers or other places and the addition of Jennika to the clan along with their bigger and bigger supporting cast of allies really has fleshed out their bigger world.
Campbell has been crafting a tale that builds off the last team but takes us much deeper into each of the Turtles, especially the newest turtle Jennika, and how they are adjusting to and growing into their new world. Their being reincarnated ninjas in the bodies of turtles that were then mutated sets them apart from all the humans that were forcibly turned by the mutagen bomb. It was only a matter of time before those that were force mutated would need to seek support for the lives they lost, and that sides would begin to be drawn over how they feel about Old Hob (who caused their mutations) and his Mutanimals group that tries to police the mutant zone.
What makes these stories work is that Campbell knows that not every issue needs to have the big action fight scene pieces and sometimes just profound meaningful conversations and moments is truly what is needed. These moments of tensions ratcheting higher and higher really work especially once all fingers are pointed at the Turtles themselves for the belief that their attempts to help the zone are shallow and too simplistic and not actually bringing any real change.
Jodi Nishijima on art and Ronda Pattison on colors bring the story to life gorgeously, especially considering how many varied mutated characters they had to bring to life within these pages. Not a single mutant or other characters (Casey Jones makes a return in this issue along with April O’Neil and a few other human characters) feels like they didn’t get the full love artistically. The emotions are clear and deep upon their faces, especially as the issue gets tenser and tenser. This is extended by Shawn Lee’s lettering work, making sure to throw in bolds and slightly bigger text when those tempers flare deeper into the issue and just killing it as usual on the letters through the rest of the issue.
Those aforementioned extra mutants in the issue really stand out because they are all vastly unique, from main supporting cast member Mona Lisa the salamander to newer characters that range from elephants to orca whales to even poisonous frogs and a mutant that looks to have been crossed with an ant.
It is a truly deep and powerful story, one that isn’t often seen when such big status quo rocking events happen in comics. There are numerous wars that ravage the Marvel and DC Universes but it’s not often that we get a story where the heroes are down on the ground hearing how the normal folks have been affected by this event. When the issue of the forced mutations might seem a black and white one, there are varied shades of gray speckled within that cast a new light upon the whole issue of Hob’s actions.
As we see deep divisions happening in real-time, this story speaks to the idea that unfortunately, no matter the situation, divisions are somewhat part of the human condition to varying levels. While that might come off as grim thinking, the rest of the issue with the Turtles and their allies alleviates it. Despite something dramatic that happens to them, the Turtles showcase their generous spirits and together with their allies push towards the realm of politics and hope for Mutant Town that looks to be quite an interesting ongoing storyline.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #112 from IDW Publishing is now available at your local comic store and digitally on ComiXology.