Let The War Begin: Reviewing ‘TMNT: The Armageddon Game – Opening Moves’ #2

by Scott Redmond

Overview

‘The Armageddon Game—Opening Moves’ #2 continues the work of the last issue by setting up essential pieces of backstory for some of the Rat King’s pawns but also elements that should play out in big ways within the main event series. A jam-packed and swift-moving issue packed full of fun, detailed and colorful artwork that helps bring the Turtleverse to life in grand ways. Definitely fits the mold as a solid prelude type of tie-in issue.

Overall
9/10
9/10

It’s almost time for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to dive into their big eight-part event story TMNT: The Armageddon Game and all the building up to that event is just about done. Prelude tie-ins can run the gamut from ones that give you tons of motive/backstory to those that are only tangentially setting things up to ones that in the end aren’t even really connected to the actual event when all is said and done.

TMNT: The Armageddon Game – Opening Moves is the type of prelude tie-in that perfectly sets up the event while giving new insight and just telling some intriguing stories along the way.

While the first issue was half a Shredder/Oroku Saki recap that laid out so much about the character’s time in the IDW Turtleverse and half a dive into the mind/backstory of the Utrom known as Kang, this second issue moves at a bit brisker pace in some ways. In that first issue, the recap and memory jaunt were filled with big past moments the stuff with Baxter Stockman and Madame Null was a mix of more recent stuff and the past.

Tom Waltz takes the time to fill in gaps between some of the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series issues from months ago. Namely where the mutant cat Old Hob ended up after being beaten, arrested, and then on the run from Mutant Town. Him and Baxter facing off was pretty darn good, full of tension since their history is a long and dark one in this universe. Hob being someone that Saki will have to convince the Turtles is a worthy ally since he is out to destroy Baxter will be quite interesting.

Not being as caught up on the Turtleverse pre the big creative change with issue #101, I don’t know much about Madame Null outside of her appearance in the recent Jennika miniseries. Getting a bit of a backstory moment with her was interesting, even if it was hard for me to fully follow everything that was going on and referenced with all the Dimension X stuff. It did succeed in making me want to finally get around to doing a big, huge read of all the Turtle-related stuff since the 2011 relaunch.

Even though the memories are more straightforward here compared to some of the visual stuff they were doing in the Saki recap in the last issue, Fero Pe and Ronda Pattison do a lot of fun things here with this issue.

Pe has a very detailed and smooth sort of art style that lends itself to a lot of the rapid action panels we have here, all the movements just feeling full of energy and flowing across the pages. Also just love how animated everything is, especially when capturing the emotions on characters’ faces and quickly switching from one to the other (like Stockman going from defiant to terrified in one panel to the next). We get a lot of cool visuals when it comes to Kitsune and Shredder in their astral forms, sliding in and out of other minds/memories.

Since they are actively watching/living out these memories there isn’t a lot done to make them appear like flashbacks, like the Saki recap from the first issue, but there are little subtle things done to make it stand out that these are not the present-day moment. I really like how Pe switches from using white space as borders and wide-open space around a character on one page only to change on another where there isn’t a single bit of white space in sight.

One of the changes between the present day and the memories falls on the work Pattison does, making some of the colors of the past scenes a bit more washed out in tone compared to the present day, helping visually identify these moments as different. All the present-day colors are not necessarily brighter but they are just enough that it helps make them stand out from the past/memories with that little bit of change to the color palette. She does such an amazing job in all the Turtle-related books to bring a lot of the same color style to play while making sure that it compliments any artist’s work no matter what their style might be compared to whomever she last worked with.

Lettering is always in great hands with TMNT books since they are generally all handled by Shawn Lee, who handles the variety of energies and personalities on display quite well with the approach to lettering. Bits of color in bubbles or captions that sound like the character inherently with all the right emphasis are just some of the elements at play.

A character’s tone or volume isn’t always clear in printed material without some sort of way to tell us how it should be. Lee accomplishes that all the time with the simple matter of changing font styles or sizes in order to give an indication if someone might be yelling or whispering or any other sort of change to their speech.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Armageddon Game – Opening Moves #2 is now available.

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