One Final Lesson: Reviewing ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #139

Piece after piece has fallen off the board as the Rat King’s game moves closer to some sort of conclusion. Seems the perfect time for the Hamato Clan to gather together once more with their new ally and mentor Oroku Saki to learn one final move, that just might save the world.

Dwindling the massive cast of this series and the overall The Armageddon Game event down to just the five turtles, Shredder and Kitsune is a smart move. It narrows the overall focus ahead of the big concluding chapter on the way. Also, it gives us another fantastic issue chock full of Sophie Campbell’s detailed, deep, and powerful character work. This event started for this series with some quieter character issues of Shredder training the Turtles for this coming battle, and the final tie-in issue for the series concludes in the same space sort of.  We love a thematic full circle with emotional and character growth in the center.

No lie, my heart was so full, and the emotions washed over me when we get the confirmation here that while Jennika isn’t an original Hamato clan member by blood she is so caught up in the gravity of their presence that she is now and forever connected to them and part of their family. That moment where she seems to breathe and relief and quips about guessing they are stuck with her leading to Mikey replying that he hopes so… my emotions!

Every bit of this is just a showcase for why Campbell’s run has been stellar for almost three years now, as she not only understands these characters (their voices, personalities, history, etc.) but has such a deep-rooted love for them that resonates into every bit of the book. I cannot wait to see what is next for this series in the aftermath of the event. So much has happened during and before the event that there is no limit on where it could all go next.

This issue is not only the final one that is a tie-in to The Armageddon Game but is also our final issue, at least for now, with Fero Pe on the art. Since this run began the rotating choices for artists have been spectacular and each one has been exactly what the book needed for the story happening at that moment. That’s definitely the case here as Pe has such a dynamic art style that perfectly captures all the emotional elements that are key to this series but also easily hits hard for the action elements.

No matter if we’re talking about close-quarters Utrom fights in the hideout or the full invasion fight in the streets of Mutant Town or just this one here of seven characters talking, Pe makes sure that we feel like we the audience are right there with them. Every choice of panel shot is one that gets us close-up to the action, really homes in on the facial expressions/body language or is a wide shot that puts us at eye-level to all the action. Everything feels both smooth and rough at the same time, playing into the overall tone of this entire series as the characters have been under constant siege losing homes, allies, and parts of their world.

Through this run I’ve constantly marveled at the coloring work that Ronda Pattison does issue after issue, finding a way to shift her style to match every single type of artwork that might happen to be in play. Here we spend the issue in a very yellow and gray other dimensional void, but there is still tons of color that really draws the eye in. Much of that of course come from the fact that the Turtles are different hues of green with all their colorful masks and Kitsune/Shredder have colorful costumes as well. Outside of that though there are some great color things going on here.

We get a panel at one point where all color is sapped to put the characters in shadows, as Pe puts us in a further back shot of them, where all their masks, the wraps on their hands/feet, as well as a portion of Kitsune’s kimono are a bright splash of yellow that pops against the gray backdrop and their fully black selves. Later we get some utterly fantastic solo full-page montages from Pe with each character focusing on various times in their lives and future. They are great all on their own visually, but they are popped up another level because surrounding and covering the various montage scenes are character-color-specific filters. I would purchase each of those pages and frame them on my walls right now, they are just spectacular.

As noted, this is a dialogue-heavy issue with all that the characters go through and learn, and as usual, Shawn Lee makes it all flow and fits the pages so perfectly. Dropping in all the right little elements that make sure that the different characters’ personalities are felt and we the reader can understand how these characters should sound at any given moment. Not only are there the bits of bigger bolder fonts or smaller ones that instantly speak to the volume/tone of a moment but there are the utterly amazing things like them yelling Kitsune’s name and it being the color of a fox with a fox tail coming off the E at the end. Comic books are freaking great and its things like that, which Lee does at the exact right time, which make them such a fun medium and is so hard to replicate in adaptations.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #139 is now available from IDW Publishing.

Piece after piece has fallen off the board as the Rat King’s game moves closer to some sort of conclusion.COMICONRead More

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