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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #18 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw018Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ben Bates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Ben Bates
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

The bulk of this issue follows the turtles on planet Neutrino in Dimension X as they assess their situation and come to an understanding with the soldiers they encountered on Earth, native to this planet. They also learn what it is the soldiers were after as they realize all has not been as it seems. Meanwhile, back on Earth Splinter, April, and Casey deal with the sudden disappearance of the turtles. By issue’s end–18 issues into this new series–the turtles are introduced to General Krang, in a must more competent iteration than the ’80s cartoon that spawned the character.

Story-wise, this continues to be a great series that–on the whole–I am thoroughly enjoying. However, I’m growing a bit weary of 4-issue arcs, despite lingering subplots (and believe me, I am extremely grateful for subplots in an age where it seems stories are “written for the trade” and to be entirely self-contained). Eastman and Waltz continue to take core elements of the numerous iterations of these characters, and weave them together into a new tapestry that is at once familiar and yet new and interesting.

I particularly recognize Neutrinos Zak and Kala, and appreciate the turtles’ interactions with them; Mikey’s characterization with the princess is familiar as well. The turtles being suddenly, unexpectedly zapped to an alien planet in the middle of a war is a familiar “broad stroke” from the original Eastman/Laird series…though new in the specific details.

Visually, I’m liking Bates‘ art–it fits the characters well, and it just “works” for me. The only real weirdness is that the Neutrinos take on a very anime-like visual effect that contrasts a bit with the more sensible look of the other characters. Pattison‘s colors lend a real sense of continuity to the multiple artists on this series so far, where the linework’s changed, the colors have been consistent and certainly ease the transition between art styles.

This series has been on a relatively slow burn, steadily introducing characters and elements to the story, playing on past stories and expectations to build a strong continuity made up of the “best of” past versions of the TMNT. I’m truly appreciating the development, that things aren’t being rushed for the sake of getting characters in (especially characters whose original versions I find rather silly and off-putting as an adult). But I am increasingly anxious to see something a bit more major happen, something to truly shake up this continuity and define the characters–I’m not sure how, exactly–but it seems that other than the all-too-frustrating $3.99 price point this continuity would be ripe for a weekly series–or multiple series effectively making for weekly glimpses into the world.

With the typical 4-issue arcs, this is the 2nd chapter of this arc; so if you can find #17 along with this,  you can jump in and probably figure out for the most part what’s what, especially if you’re fairly familiar with the turtles anyway. Alternatively if you’re waiting for the collected volumes…this is shaping up to be another good mini-arc.

On the whole…the issue is good, and definitely leaves me quite interested in getting the next issue in-hand.

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