Review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #117 Hits All The Right Heartfelt And Metal Notes To Conclude The Latest Story Arc
by Scott Redmond
This arc has taken the trope of time travel and used it to create some of the most emotional, heartfelt, and character-developing comics around. Sophie Campell, Ronda Pattison, and Shawn Lee are a true dream team of TMNT creators and just creators as a whole because every single piece of the comic sings and combines into something truly amazing much like Jennika’s band in the story. This series as a whole is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at it’s character-driven best and should be on everyone’s reading list.
They say good things come to those who wait, and that’s very much true when it comes to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After taking a month off, the series returned to close out the time travel arc that it’s been telling for months as well as resolve and set up a lot of relationship and character moments for the cast. As a bonus, we all get a second issue this month in just two weeks to begin the next arc. All good things.
All of the fighting-style action ended two issues ago so this one is very much a culmination of all the story threads. From the battle of the bands between Jennika’s new band and Rocksteady/Bebop, future Lita’s time in the present, as well as moving every single major and supporting character forward in their development in really great ways.
Speaking of the aforementioned battle of the bands, the way that Sophie Campbell chose to handle that was beautifully done and spoke so much to how dynamic these characters and world have been since her run began. So many of the issues are about taking expectations and turning them on their head and choosing to go directions that are deeper and have far more character meaning.
A lot of this issue felt like the Turtles, their allies, and their foes all “grew up” in a way. Realizing that they all have a part to play in the world they are building and that the ways of the past they were trapped in were detrimental and now presents the best time to try new things and come together.
Campbell, Ronda Pattison, and Shawn Lee have been crafting something truly amazing with this last arc. While there is the cool stuff to get long-time fans giddy like the Turtles verse Tokkha & Rahzar, there is so much heart and emotional depth on various levels through all the issues. From dealing with loss, to trauma/PTSD, to finding one’s joy, to realizing what is important and in front of you and not letting things break you.
At its heart, it’s about family though. Not the usual just the Turtles as a family but the vast connected community family they are building. There are a number of scenes at the end that just tug at the heart watching them learn this lesson and embrace who and what they have. Especially a particular full-page depiction of a brighter version of the future (that they helped create by learning and changing in this arc) that needs to be a poster or print to put up on the wall. It’s stunning and so joyful and hopeful.
Every issue this trio’s artistic work is just beyond top notch. Pattison’s colors and Campbell’s art are seemingly meant to stand together and Lee’s lettering elevates every single one of the TMNT books he’s been part of over the years. The band scenes (pictured above & below) at the beginning are so gloriously moody and metal and just a true sight to behold. Every single bit of emotion is truly felt from the exceptional facial expressions/body language and the perfect coloring and the tweaks to dialogue appearance.
Everything about this series is just a constant joy not just as a Turtle fan but just as a fan of the medium and storytelling in general. It’s beyond clear that they are pouring their hearts into this book and taking it to whole new levels. This is a book that I would recommend to any single person asking what comic book they should be reading right now. One of the best, hands down.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #117 is now on sale from IDW Publishing in print and digitally.