‘The Armageddon Game—Opening Moves’ #1 does the double duty of catching readers up with events in the TMNT universe while also seeding what is needed for the upcoming event, all done in an enjoyable fun informative way. This is a very thick issue but it’s delightful and joyful to look at and well-paced so that it never feels like a super long issue. This is the best way to do event preparation and how to create tie-in issues for said events.
Big-time summer events are a huge thing in comic books of the modern era, and this summer it’s time for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to dive into their own: TMNT: The Armageddon Game. Building up to events can often be a hard thing to do, scattered through various issues or the opening moments of the actual event have to do a lot to get folks up to speed. The folks behind the TMNT at IDW though got us all covered.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Armageddon Game – Opening Moves #1 lives up to its name as it really helps lay out what this event will be and who the villains will be. I really enjoyed the fact that Tom Waltz spent the first chunk of the issue doing a recap of essentially everything that happened with Oroku Saki/Shredder and the Foot Clan and others through the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and various minis since 2011. Such recaps can at times be slow or lose the interest of the reader, but this one keeps all the interest because the captions that narrate are fun while informative.
What also helps is the visual presentation that Fero Pe and Ronda Pattison use to bring the recap to glorious flashback-style life. It’s not just panels laid out showcasing moments. No, Pe does things like have Saki stand dramatically in the present with cape billowing and using the cape across two pages to fit in the various flashback panels highlighting his past. Or a full page where the flashbacks fill the page but are done in torn dream-like panel inserts.
Pattison is the go-to colorist with so much of the TMNT line, and no matter the book and no matter the artist her colors match their style perfectly. Here we two different versions of the same color palette, with the present-day moments being brighter while the past moments are given that sort of washed-out dream-like filter to showcase that they are past memories.
All of this continues through the issue as it moves fully into the present and then moves into the memories that we see play out in the head of General Krang. I love how Pe switches up how panels are handled with some pages using white space as borders, others having panels slotted in right over a panel that takes up the full page, and even having ‘oddly’ shaped panels and panels that break the preconceived barriers we assign to panels.
While the Saki past bits are given that past/memory/flashback style filter those from General Krang’s memories are not. It’s a nice bit since it reinforces that, unlike the Saki memories that are more passive, the memories seen by Krang are actively being lived in by the observing Saki & Kitsune as well as us the audience. Therefore, they are colorful and bright as the rest of the issue because we’re within them instead of observing them from afar.
Dedicating these issues to having Saki & Kitsune observing their enemies and figuring out their plan since the Rat King has already made his opening moves, thus the title of these issues, is a good choice. It gives things more room to breathe rather than having to try and fit this all into the first event issue or a single one-shot. People go back and forth in comics discourse about even tie-ins, but personally, if a tie-in is something that actively builds and enhances the event, as this one does, I’m all for them.
Just as Pattison is the thread between many of the TMNT books out there at times, Shawn Lee is another since his lettering can be found in basically everything TMNT related these days. It’s easy to see why when one reads and takes in all the energy and personality that he is able to put into the words that fill the pages. Whether it’s the narrative captions that kick off this issue or the bits of dialogue that are found throughout. Even little things like giving various characters different shaped or colored dialogue bubbles, or really fun comic book stuff like having big huge fonts to really hit home that someone is saying something loudly/yelling/etc.
Tone and volume are hard to gauge when just reading something, because we can’t fully see or hear as we would in life, thus why the best things we read make it inherently clear. Great letterers make it so that the clear tone/volume that the art gives us is even louder and clearer. That’s one through bigger/smaller fonts or emphasizers like bolding things or changing up the style of the font. As noted above, Lee is a great letterer, so those elements are all over his work in this book and others.
We’re given such an interesting look at not only Saki/Kitsune and Krang but plenty of supporting characters that have graced many eras of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles such as the Neutrinos and the Nova Squadron who look to potentially play vital roles in this event. Just this first issue really shows how much fun this event is likely going to be, and I for one can’t wait to dive in.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Armageddon Game – Opening Moves #1 is now available.