I can hardly believe it’s been over three years since I last reviewed an issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A lot has changed.
Originally I was going to say “but the quality of this title hasn’t!” But that wouldn’t be true. Because it’s actually become stronger.
I revisited my review of #75, and was reminded that despite it being a momentous occasion (since easily topped by passing 100 issues), I was pretty meh about it all. Perhaps I was burnt out from reviewing every issue, including the various mini-series, since issue #15. Perhaps intergalactic shenanigans weren’t my thing. Likely a mixture of both.
So what brought me back into the fold? There is one reason – Sophie Campbell.
TMNT has been blessed with many great artists, plus a consistently strong writing and editorial team. Campbell has always ranked highly for me personally, but I knew she had more to give. IDW obviously agree, as post #100, they’ve handed over the keys. Between writing and shared art duties, Sophie has ran with it, infusing this title with a character and warmth that makes me fall in love in with it all over again.
With Old Hob’s recent actions transforming part of NYC into ‘Mutant Town’ – a walled off section of the city populated by the recently mutated – Sophie has taken the opportunity to slow things down, something the title badly needed. It’s not that everything has stopped, there’s still plenty going on. It’s just giving everything a chance to breathe after a huge change in the status quo. There is time to look at other aspects of the world our heroes inhabit. Personally, I’m noticing an awful lot of inclusivity and representation. And I love it.
I write this as a white male – seeing myself in media isn’t tricky. Hell, I’m the oldest of four siblings, so I can see myself directly in a Ninja Turtle! Having a daughter has opened my eyes somewhat. Taking more notice of the situations others find themselves in has too. I want my daughter to be better than me; to be more open, more accepting, and generally just more than I’ll ever be.
So seeing herself, and any multitude of others in media, is important. Mutants are a clear way of showing all lives as equal; it doesn’t matter who we are, we all struggle and are dealing with our own situations. I’m not smart enough to word it correctly quite frankly. But I see things in this comic that mean something.
To indulge my old-school TMNT side for a paragraph…MOMMA! It’s awesome to see Tokka and Rahzar. I always felt that they could be used well, and their introduction is both faithful to their original incarnation and terrifying. Their size sets them apart from even Bebop and Rocksteady, whilst their naivety and youth makes them truly threatening. Roaring and clawing as they break out of containment makes for a thrilling set of panels. I don’t know how anyone will be able to deal with them to be honest.
“We’ve done lotsa time travel stuff, Jenny, you just gotta go with it”.Mikey
Time travel and monsters aren’t even a blip on the radar. What’s bigger for the turtles is learning how to take their place in society, and opening up to new things. Mikey, long my favourite IDW turtle, is running a radio show! To see it is to think ‘how has he not done this before?’ It just works. Much like this comic. I could dig into things, such as political commentary, for many more paragraphs. Suffice to say, seeing these subjects approached through the prism of anthropomorphic creatures is a pleasant surprise and one I hope to see much more of. Entertaining and meaningful? Yes please.
I realise I’ve spoken more about the current run than this month’s issue. But I don’t review at the pace I used to, and this feels like a fresh start. One I didn’t know TMNT needed, but one that feels perfect.