‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ delivers an emotional punch as the Punk Frogs storyline is mostly wrapped up but the overall narrative pushes ever closer to the looming Armageddon Games event that is on the way. There is a rawness to this issue as pain and trauma are dealt with and the world gets darker for the characters, new things bombarding them from all sides.
There are big things on the near horizon for the Splinter Clan and their allies as well as Mutant Town and the world itself, and a lot of those threads are beginning to come together in the latest fantastic issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Not only do we finally have Regenta Seri arriving and meeting the Turtles she had come to find, but there is also a resolution to the Punk Frogs story for the moment, to the fate of Venus/Bonnie, and even a glimpse of what is next for the extremely diabolical and vile Doctor Barlow. Oh, and we also get Oroku Saki/Shredder fully making his presence known again as he comes to Leonardo to help the Turtles with what is on the way. Tons is going on in this issue, as usual for this book, and as always Sophie Campbell makes it look easy to juggle so many threads and characters while making sure it’s never overwhelming for the reader, and everyone still gets their character/depth moments and doesn’t feel background.
This is a very rough issue, emotionally. These characters have been through so much and we see how it has affected some of them as they fight for their very lives against Doctor Barlow’s minions and cross some lines that they might not usually, because they had to live and because they suffered so much trauma. What this series continues to do so well is expand upon everything these characters go through, where just like in real life the past (as in previous story arcs) still plays a heavy role in the present and the future about how people function and how they move through the world. While the book is really fun more often than not, Campbell keeps things very real when it comes to emotions and character development and that is greatly appreciated.
It makes for a far richer reading experience in my view because it makes us care even more for these characters than we already might have.
Pablo Tunica returns to art after an issue off and brings along his energy that is befitting of a story that is rough and somewhat dark and dramatic as this one. As noted in previous reviews there is a heavy vibe of chaos to his artwork, and it helps make these moments and the experience these characters are going through feel even more dire and powerful. All the action scenes are not only energetic and smooth flowing across the page the way that Tunica chooses to do panels really makes scenes stand out while adding more drama or tension.
One really important thing is the facial expression/emotional work that is being put in here. As I said above, there is a lot of darkness and pain and emotion in this issue and Tunica sells every single bit of it with the close-up shots of faces where emotion is clear but also body language. We’re not just reading that these characters feel a certain way we’re seeing it, and therefore are feeling it.
Coloring is such an intriguing part of the comic book process, and Ronda Pattison is so great at what she does. No matter the artist her coloring work shifts to match their work and bring even more out of what they are putting on the page. In the previous Tunica issues, Pattison’s colors took on a more Earthy almost washed-out sort of tone to fit the energy but here as the issue energy has changed some from those the colors have a bit more pop to them. They are brighter and heighten the action and the raw emotion that is being put on display here.
We get bright splashes of colors overwhelming a panel such as bright red when Sheena is unleashing her rage upon Barlow’s minon or the bright powerful blues that follow the use of Venus’s powers. There are also tons of darker shadow tones used to really highlight certain things, as well as obscure others.
Powerful energy and color can also be found within the lettering as Shawn Lee does what he does best in every issue. There is a lot of information and dialogue to be conveyed in this issue, and it flows smoothly through the pages never becoming overwhelming or throwing off the vibe of any given panel. Lee is so good about making sure that not only are characters’ voices heard through the words, but there are great little things done to make various types of dialogue or captions stand out more. Changing the color or size or style of font to showcase power use or someone yelling, especially when names are dropped into bubbles with big bold colorful letters, is such a nice thing.
Knowing when a character is yelling versus when they are talking normally or when they are whispering, as well as the changes helping sell, even more, the emotions of the moment, is a useful thing. Some see it as a small thing but every element in the comic can be used to make sure that the intent of the story is clear and felt and heard on every level. This is a comic series where that is the case in each and every single issue. One of the myriad of reasons that it is one of my favorites, and truly one of the best on the shelves.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #130 is now available.