Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Ninja Style: Reviewing ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #126
by Scott Redmond
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ has had a great balance of give and take throughout this series but especially so since the beginning of this current run, which makes things feel real and deep. There is chaotic energy that permeates this story where the fighting is rough and personal rather than calculated or planned, and the team isn’t afraid to let us see the Turtles and their allies not always win.
Now that their dojo and home have been devastated, their family put in danger, by a group of mutants known as the Punk Frogs, there is only one thing left for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to do: get revenge!
Through the past two years, the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series has been steadily building out not just the lives and world and families of the title characters but Mutant Town itself. Everything about this part of New York feels like a living, breathing location full of a variety of characters and dangers and situations that are unique. Having the Turtles trying to find a place in the ‘human world’ is interesting and a classic status quo but giving them their own world and place to call home with others like them is one of the best things this great series has done over the years.
Sophie Campbell has brought a great mix of moments in this series where there is a good balance of moments where the characters gain things/have good moments and those where they lose things/something bad happens. We’ve seen the characters deal with so much and they are all vastly different than when she started her run, in the most natural and expected of ways from what they’ve had to endure.
One of the things that worked great in this issue is the fact that there are two concurrently running stories, that of the Turtles/Frogs and one of the Triceratons/Utroms, that share the same sort of theme: loss. We see the Turtles and their allies as well as the Triceratons having hope and gaining something and in both stories, those things they gained or hoped for are being ripped from them by individuals outside of them that have bones to pick.
This being a darker and more hard-hitting story fits with the artwork of Pablo Tunica and the colors of Ronda Pattison. Tunica’s art has a very street/down to Earth quality to it that has a bit of a roughness to it, an almost chaotic energy, that is very welcome and fitting here. All of these mutants and aliens that are fantastical in many ways look that way in his artwork, with the environments looking as distressed and broken as one would assume they would be in these situations. At the same time, it also perfectly captures all of the diverse emotions that are spreading through the characters on the pages from anger to grief to even some bits of happiness that can be scrounged out of the darkness.
There is also just smooth rapid energy that radiates off the action pages, and the way that they are paneled helps with that a lot. These are big chaotic fights and the way the pages are laid out follows that chaos energy and it’s really great. This is not a ninja fight, it’s a turf war sort of fight and it should be chaos, and Tunica delivers.
Pattison is one of the stalwarts of this title alongside Campbell and letterer Shawn Lee, and it shows every issue because she always finds the best way to bring the right tones and color palette to fit with whoever might be doing the arc in any given arc. While they could tend to be somewhat brighter with shadows in the previous arc, here they are more muted and earthy with those same shadows still playing their part. Emotionally things are heavy here and that can be felt on the pages even when the colors still have brighter fantastical elements to them.
A lot of the same energy spoken about above can be seen and felt within the letters that Lee brings. All of the SFX are colorful and big and instantly made my mind go back to things like the 1966 Batman TV series opening sequence. Cause they are classic kind of cartoonish a bit which is just perfect for the energy of this arc. The same goes for a bunch of the more colorful speech bubbles from the Frogs and others that are using a myriad of fonts and colors making their dialogue punchier and in your face just like they are.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #126 is now on sale in print and digitally from IDW Publishing.