It All Comes Crashing Down: Reviewing ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #138

Little by little The Armageddon Game continues to take a toll upon those pulled into the Rat King’s orchestrated chaos. While the Splinter Clan and allies have had some successes, they’ve also taken some blows. Some bigger than others.

One of the things I’ve highlighted as a point that I love about this overall event is how well it’s been coordinated between the event limited series and this regular ongoing series, as well as the supporting TMNT: The Armageddon Game – The Alliance series. It’s not surprising that Tom Waltz and Sophie Campbell, as well as those involved in the various Alliance stories, have been able to create something that so easily connects and flows between their titles as the creators & editors working on the Turtle titles all this time have been tremendous at creating a small little shared universe that runs smooth as silk.

Series that do tie-ins to events often in comics see their own story directions at times sidelined to fit into the event but that’s not the case here. Both the main limited series and the main TMNT title are taking turns setting up and paying off big moments for the event. An issue of one showing off one element that the issue of the other pays off which sets up the other one, rinse & repeat. Yet, at the same time, the main TMNT title is still really hitting on a lot of the plotlines that were in the works before the event (some of those plotlines were of course integral to the event) and continues to deliver the amazing character and emotional energy that has been core to the series.

Campbell writes these characters so well and pulls out every bit of their personality and history in order to keep giving us powerful moments with them. There is a highly emotional moment in the climax of the issue where we see Raphael and someone that has long been a foe for him and his brothers share a deeply personal moment alongside the others who feel the pain of the moment as well. It speaks to how far these characters have come in the last 38 and also 138 issues, and where they are headed as all the mutants and their allies have come together to save Mutant Town and now to save the world despite how much they are reeling.

Also, the sigh of relief that I breathed when the issue ended with a reveal about that aforementioned highly emotional moment, was loud and powerful and felt right down to my toes. I have loved TMNT my entire life and since coming on board this title as a reader, when this run began, I’ve fallen in deeper love with the main characters as well as the supporting cast that keeps growing. Even the momentary loss of some of them hit hard, because of just how amazing Campbell is as a writer and a developer of characters.

Every arc or portion of this run has had such great artistic talent helping bring the story to life, all bringing their own energy or style that fits whatever tone the series needs in the moment. I’ve really loved what Fero Pe has created during this current arc of the series, having such a detailed, weighty, deep, kinetic, and emotional showcasing style. Pe sets up each panel in a way where we’re given the full impact of things from the biggest to the smallest moment. One moment we’ll be an observer off in the distance (for example some early shots that establish how wide Mutant Town and its wall truly are) only to zoom in and get right up in the middle of the action where we’re so close you can actually feel like you’re right alongside the characters.

All the close-ups, and some extreme close-ups, help establish emotions because Pe is meticulous at accurately depicting any of the wide range of emotions, facial expressions or body language that exist. It’s not just those moments though as this sort of right-in-the-middle-of-things style is put right into the action moments as well. With battles of this nature us being in the thick of things creates such a powerful feeling.

There is smoothness but also a gritty bit of roughness that is clear in how Pe brings this world to life and that is reflected too in the always wonderful colors of Ronda Pattison.

They are so vibrant and thick and even fantastical in some respects but are tempered by the other colors that are very grounded and toned down to create a more realistic sense of things like the city. All the bright greens and reds and pinks and such of the Turtles and the Utroms and all the other colorful mutants are meant to feel out of place and to do that they are put into the urban environment full of grays and browns and other muted colors. What unifies them is the shadows and darkness that weave their way through things to match the rough/darker tone.

Pattison deserves so much praise for her time on this series as she is one of the unifying factors in creating the overall tone of this series, providing a signature style of colors that also are unique with each arc because they shift to match the artists. Another unifying factor, alongside Campbell as the writer of course, is the lettering work of Shawn Lee.

While Campbell develops the ideas for what character and emotional moments we’ll hit in any given issue and Pe (insert other artists)/Pattison visually create those moments for us to see and take in, it falls to Lee to make sure those moments hit in a way that we can also ‘hear’ them as we read along. Seeing them works and lets us know what is going down, but when paired with great lettering that allows emotion and volume/tone to be inherently clear takes things up another notch. That’s one of the things that Lee always brings to any book that he works on, making all the right changes to dialogue or captions (whether the font itself, the bubbles, or how they all are styled together) so that what we hear in our heads as we read is spot on.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #138 is now available from IDW Publishing.

Little by little The Armageddon Game continues to take a toll upon those pulled into the Rat King’s orchestrated chaos.COMICONRead More

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