By: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (story), Ben Bates (art), Ronda Pattison (colors)
The Story: Counting on warrior turtles to save the planet? Well, beggars can’t be choosers.
The Review: A big chunk of the appeal that goes into reading this series comes from its pure nostalgia factor. It just feels good to rediscover all the characters and concepts that made up so much of my childhood. For instance, I almost forgot that the Neutrinos had any part of TMNT continuity, and hearing the name only conjures an image of several pointy-eared teenagers, rambunctiously tearing around town on flying convertibles with headlight laser beams.
I don’t know if what I remember from the cartoon was simply the product of a lot of creative licensing on the producers’ part, or if this title is taking an edgy interpretation of some otherwise frothy characters. Whatever the case, the Neutrinos here are a much more serious, militant, desperate sort of characters. When Raphael confronts one of them, asking if they’re about to make the fight personal, the Neutrino replies, “No…just business.” And I believe they mean it.
Even though I still sort of miss the shrill, devil-may-care characters of my youth, these modern Neutrinos do give a real sense of urgency to the series. Although Krang has been present in the book since I first started reading, he’s never directly crossed paths with our heroes. All of a sudden, the turtles find themselves thrown right into the middle of his conflict, with no option to get out of the situation—a pretty effective way to force a showdown with the other major TMNT villain, I must say.
Maybe that’s why Eastman-Waltz felt the need to have Master Splinter make a preemptive call for harmony among his family. Casey seems to voice our own surprise at this scene when he remarks, “Another family meeting? …Man, you guys do this a lot.” Considering the fairly stern set of words Splinter had to say last issue, it does seem like overkill to pile on the lecture at this point. But maybe his lesson about unity will serve as an underlying theme to this new arc, where the turtles will have to confront some sticky issues about the price of freedom, a subject you’re sure there’ll be some disagreement on.
Even though Krang has taken over the spotlight as the current antagonist, Eastman-Waltz make sure you don’t forget Shredder is still out there, posing a threat to the turtles. Karai, still smarting over her grandfather picking one of their enemies as his second-in-command rather than herself, seems to have her own ploy in mind, one that requires more of the special serum that’s made so many of our humanoid animal friends possible. It’ll be interesting to see how her plan plays out, and how Shredder, ruthless as he is, will take it.
I mostly shrugged over Andy Kuhn’s art since #13, so Bates’ work is a most welcome improvement. Like most artists on this series, Bates struggles with really distinguishing one turtle from the other, but aside from that persistent flaw, he offers a very pleasant-looking issue. The best word to describe it would be “cutesy”—even Krang has a sullen, frowny expression that’s strangely endearing. Where Bates really excels is in the action, which comes across speedy and wild. Notice the tension practically humming from the panel as the turtles dodge Neutrino lasers; pay particular mind to Mikey’s cocky grin and flapping tongue, “Booyah!” in motion. Pattison keeps the color palette consistently lively, and her varied shades of green do help a little in telling the turtles apart.
Conclusion: Dependable, harmless fun as always, though there might be a pretty epic TMNT tale waiting in the wings.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - If nothing else, you can always count on the girl in the group to get more work done with doe eyes and some major sweet talk.
– So Chet is not only from Neutrino, but also a robot? Charlie Whatnow?