*Yes, this review has SPOILERS! Do yourself a favor and make sure you've read #44 and #45 before reading this.*
So, that happened. Unless you read the solicitation first or the internet spoiled you, odds are Donatello's vicious defeat at the hands of Bebop and Rocksteady was quite a jaw-dropper. The whole time that fight was going down, I kept thinking of different ways my favorite Ninja Turtle would make it out of the situation just fine. "Maybe Alopex and Nobody will show up at the last second. Maybe there's another device in the lab that'll save him. Maybe..." But no, nothing happened to save the mutant from the evil duo's brutality and I was left wondering just one thing: is Donatello really dead or is he barely alive? This latest issue wastes no time answering that question as we quite literally see that Donatello hasn't "walked towards the light" just yet.
To me, placing Donatello's consciousness into Metalhead doesn't lessen the impact of what happened. It showed that, despite their dim-witted nature and goofy personalities, Bebop and Rocksteady aren't a duo anyone should take lightly and they clearly have no problem crossing the line and being incredibly cruel. They're oblivious to their own strength, and that makes them ridiculously dangerous. It doesn't change how much it impacts Donnie's loved ones, either. You'd be mistaken to believe putting his personality into Metalhead suddenly makes everything okay. We all know he'll eventually get back into his mutated body, but for now, this is going to create an interesting dynamic. Will they treat him differently? Will this change his personality? Will he want revenge? Or will this push him to hide once he does get back in his body -- you know, in an effort to keep himself safe? Given what we saw in Turtles in Time, that would make sense. Or would Donatello know that taking that path means the death of his brothers? I'm really hoping that future version of him isn't forgotten as the story moves forward.
As we see in this issue, Bebop and Rocksteady's violent actions aren't going to be glossed over. (I so can't wait for Raph to go after them.) As expected, Raphael is beyond pissed off and he's lashing out. This brought about a surprising response from Mikey -- it's nice to see his more serious moments from time to time, isn't it? -- and it's making Leonardo feel guilty over the decisions they've made. We all know Donatello will eventually be okay, but for now, this development is loaded with potential and its already taking the series in a more compelling and interesting direction, especially with his mutant brothers. Now, that's not to say it wasn't interesting or compelling to begin with; it's been consistently great! But something this traumatic should have a huge impact on everyone and it's looking like it absolutely will.
While a good portion of the issue is dedicated to Donnie follow-up and it's way more emotional, Casey Jones is given one simple task in this issue: give the readers some awesome action. Thanks to artist Mateus Santolouco's insanely energetic visuals, Ronda Pattison's consistently talented and eye-catching coloring, and some really badass and fast-paced choreography, Jones' brief role is a blast. It ends on a note that feels a little unclear (there's no way Hun was unaware of that brawl after the gunshot, so was it just a diversion?), but hopefully that'll be explained in the next issue. After April's parents bonded with the vigilante, I can't help but feel like they're in serious danger and we could soon witness a real death.
It really is impressive just how much story this team can pack into each and every issue. Not only do we get a satisfying follow-up to Donatello's situation -- one which takes advantage of this universe's mystical and sci-fi elements -- but you can also feel the tension building everywhere else. By the time you're done with this issue, you can tell at least three different plot points are ready to explode. Equally impressive is Santolouco and Pattison's consistently stellar visuals. Those two continue to bring a crazy amount of energy to these pages and Charles Paul Wilson III's handling of Donatello's scenes created the perfect atmosphere while also delivering powerful expressions. It's tempting to say something cheesy here -- something like "I love being a turtle('s fan)" -- but I'd much rather be blunt: IDW's TMNT is a damn good series. This publisher is giving us an unforgettable incarnation of the franchise and I can't wait to see what they'll dish out next. If you consider yourself a TMNT fan, you need to be following this series. If not, you're missing out on some truly great stuff.