My friend Sean was nice enough to pick up issues #s 81, 82, and 83 of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics to see where the series has gone. It’s one of the comics series I was thoroughly enjoying when I still had money to buy comics and it’s been nice to see the same people involved and still able to keep the story interesting. When you put the right writer or writers on a comic they can go a long time, and 84 issues plus any spinoffs they might have been on (although others usually worked on those) and annuals is very rare in comics today.
When last we left our young altered martial artist reptiles Leonardo had a vision that the Rat King (in this reality a paranormal being devoted to chaos) was about to cause more mischief, which New York didn’t need seeing as it was still recovering from this dimension’s version of the Triceraton invasion. They went to Rat King’s home reality in hopes of finding answers to how to stop him. But while they made a new friend they didn’t learn much. Or did they? Meanwhile, Splinter now rules the Foot Clan and appears to be on the outs with his sons, who remain under the “banner” of the Hamato Clan. And with the Rat King comes a lot more rats and April has convinced Baxter Stockman to use his Mousers to solve the problem as a way of keeping him out of worse activities. When we ended the last issue Clan Hamato was confronting the Rat King just as he was about to “pied piper” a group of orphans off of the damaged bridge. (My dad’s the one from New York so I couldn’t tell you which one.) And thus we enter the final chapter of this story arc.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #84
IDW Publishing (July, 2018)
STORY: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, & Tom Waltz
SCRIPT: Tom Waltz
ARTIST: Dave Wachter
COLORIST: Ronda Pattison
SELECTED COVER ART: Kevin Eastman (artist) & Tomi Varga (colorist)
LETTERER: Shawn Lee
EDITOR: Bobby Curnow
We continue where we left off, with Rat King holding one kid over the edge. He and the Turtles banter a bit and he can smell that they’ve been spending time with Toad and Manmoth. Raphael tells Rat King to let the kid he’s been dangling over the edge of a bridge and I’m sure you can already tell what’s going to happen next. Too bad Raph didn’t but Mikey uses his grappling hook yo-yo thing to catch the kid before he falls. So Rat King sends the other kids to pile on Don and Leo while Raph and Mikey deal with Rat King’s rats. And I’m guessing that’s also a result of his powers because I doubt they’d willingly follow him after he’s been biting their friend’s heads off. Unless they’re actually being written like real world rats who probably don’t realize stuff because they’re rats.
Back at TCRI Baxter and April has been getting the Mousers ready. Since they’re overhead is low April convinces Baxter to not charge for their use in return for further positive press (not realizing this issue will end with Baxter announcing he will run for mayor, so I think you overdid it, April). Using his “Flyborgs” (which are either giant mutant fly cyborgs or robotic fly people, either way a nice nod to the first cartoon) to help the Mousers target the rats, they’re going a very effective (and rather gross as April notes) job. And this will become important later.
Leo manages to break away from the kids, finding a nearby spot to mediate in hopes of attacking Rat King on the astral plane, or at least distract him so his brothers can attack him on the physical plane. That plan doesn’t work since apparently he can split his attention between the two. I like the concept for Rat King’s mind (I’m guessing that’s what’s represented here). It’s like a nightclub VIP room (Ratty even calls it that) with TVs showing what’s happening outside. While Leonardo comments that it seems a bit modern for him there is a certain bit of sense given his character and all the party references during their short banter at the beginning. Rat King even has a cup of “blood red wine”, which Leo refuses.
But just when it seems things are going bad the Flyborgs detect the collection of rats and send the Mousers in to eliminate them. This does distract the Rat King because as Leonardo notes later, just because he’s all about chaos he still likes to be the one in control, like the rest of his family. Between Leo using his powers on the astral plane and Raph using his fists on the physical one (and by the way I love Leo gaining glowing eyes and swords during the battle) plus the Flyborgs targeting him (since he is rat in the family…like literally because they’re all based on the animals of the Chinese or Japanese Zodiac, although Manmoth is a mammoth, which is a relative of the elephant who isn’t in that Zodiac…okay, now I’m confused) chases him off, supposedly going to the “thin places”, whatever that means. I’m sure that’s been explained in another issue, but remember I’ve been away for a long time.
With Rat King defeated the problem comes about what to do about the leftover kids. They’re still orphaned and the city is unable or unwilling to help them during this invasion recovery so the only place they can think to bring them is Splinter’s Foot Clan, leading to an uneasy reunion between father and sons just as Baxter makes his announcement that he’s running for mayor. I’m sure that will end poorly because villains running for mayor of New York in comics always seems to both be successful and a problem for our heroes. For example Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, is currently mayor in the Marvel Universe after JJ Jameson was in charge (and misused the office in his war on Spider-Man, which I suspect Fisk is doing as well). Lex Luthor became President once and the Green Goblin got to run SHIELD for a time. When will the multiverse learn?
(And I will delete any real world political comments. This is a safe place for all political persuasions.)
Now that we’re done with this story arc I rather liked it. The series has gone in interesting directions, embracing both the spiritual (granted, not my religion but I can write it off) and the science fiction aspects of the series while giving some good action and characters. I’m glad I was able to see where the comic has gone since I lost my job. Of course I’m all out of borders and bags (leaving too many loose comics for my liking), I’m still trying to shrink my oversized comic library (not these issues, mind you) of the comics I’m not interested in or outright loathe without a good reason to keep (like having a few bad examples around as a reminder of what not to do or part of a series I want the full collection of, even the bad years), and I’m not comfortable having someone else buy comics for me, although I “fear” Sean’s going to make me review those GoBot comics like he did MASK, the Titan Robotechs and that Voltron crossover. It’s just reminding me how I need to get this pile down and how much of this series I’ve missed and need to catch up on. I just need to figure out how to sell off or giveaway the comics (maybe a Patreon-exclusive contest once I get that redone) since they’re mostly 1990s and 2000s, which comic stores already have in abundance. He can visit without bringing stuff and I have to cut down my stuff somehow, and maybe gain some money in the process.
However, for the rest of you this is a good version of the Turtles for older readers. (I wouldn’t recommend this one for the kids. Maybe try IDW’s Adventures comic based on the last Nickelodeon cartoon or the old Archie or Dreamwave runs also inspired by the cartoons of their times.) And there are plenty of collections of the older stories. In this comic was an advertisement for larger collections plus there’s a trade for each story arc if you don’t want to hunt down the individual issues. Which I do because I like reading my comics that way and saving graphic novels for original big stories instead of trade collections. But however you prefer to read it, pick this series up. It’s still just as good as it started.