The Frogs Strike First: Reviewing ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #125

by Scott Redmond

Overview

A new year brings a new arc and a new artistic contributor as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to be one of the best books on the shelves, bringing some emotional heartwrenching moments to the Turtles’ lives. Quite a few plot lines move forward while others begin to form, showcasing the depth of what Mutant Town can bring to this series.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Last year the Turtles and their friends, and enemies, dealt with the reality of Mutant Town and what sort of future they all want which included toppling the power structure of Old Hob and the Mutanimals. Unfortunately, while some things were going in their favor, the new year has brought trouble right to their doorstep in the form of the Punk Frogs.

A new year often brings new things alongside the things that are already known, and one of the things that didn’t change is just how great this series has been and continues to be. There has been a change though, which comes in the form of Pablo Tunica who joins the team on artistic duties with this new story arc following the departure of Jodi Nishijima (for the time being) from the series team.

One of the many great things about the series is how there are several artists that rotate through as part of this team, and each brings their own style and energy to the book. All of them work and bring something different to the table with the various types of stories. Tunica’s artwork feels a bit looser, in the sense that it focuses and highlights the more fantastical elements of the various mutants and aliens. It’s got a very street-level artistic quality to it which is fitting for this particular arc and the turf war sort of vibe that we’re getting.

There is even a bit of chaotic energy that comes out well during the fight scenes within the dojo, which naturally are very chaotic with so many characters and motions happening. At the same time not a bit of the expressiveness that we’re used to seeing in this series has been lost, the character’s personalities and emotions still being conveyed perfectly.

Rhonda Pattison makes her colors compliment every artist that comes through these pages, slipping in little changes here or there to best highlight the work on the page. Here the colors are bright but more of a toned-down almost muted type of palate which suits Tunica’s work. Compared to some of the recent previous issues there are fewer ever-present shadows to the work until we get towards the end and things begin to get direr. This sets things up as feeling a bit more positive and open after the heaviness of the last arc, only to nicely pull the rug out at the last moment as things take a heavy turn.

Letters as always are the domain of Shawn Lee who brings the same energy and skill as always. Truly the work to make dialogue look varied and different not just for various characters but also to fit emotional tone or volume (whispering vs talking vs yelling) is so appreciated and valued. It makes things feel real and helps get the intent across and Lee does it so well.

One of the things that makes the losses and wins of these characters strike the reader as much as they do is the fact that character comes first here over all other things, and everyone has been built up so much in this run (and even before that). Sophie Campbell brings a lot of intriguing plots and stories to life while tackling a lot of real-world issues, but truly the character work here is next level. I’ve loved many of these characters for most of my life, but I love them and the newer ones even more at this point.

We’ve seen the Turtles and others lose and gain a lot and finally seem to be in a good spot, so to see them lose and lose big here is gutting. It’s a reminder that their situation in Mutant Town is still new and volatile, and their efforts to change that still have a long way to go. The focus more on Casey is appreciated here too, as he was a character that didn’t appear as much over the last year or so. A human that feels out of place not just in Mutant Town but amongst his friends who all seem to be moving forward in various ways. It’ll be interesting to see where some of the recent developments go with him moving forward.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #125 is now on sale in print and digitally from IDW Publishing.

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