TMNT #50 creative team: Tom Waltz (writer/story), Kevin Eastman (story), Bobby Curnow (story/editor), Mateus Santolouco (art), Cory Smith (flashback art), Ronda Pattison (colors), Shawn Lee (letters)
|Artwork by Mateus Santolouco and Ronda Pattison|
Year after year, this new direction has been handled brilliantly. No matter how much the narrative changed, one thing stayed the same: Oroku Saki, a.k.a. Shredder, wants to end Hamato Yoshi, a.k.a. Master Splinter, and the Ninja Turtles. Now - four years later - the conflict between the two sides is reaching its conclusion. You know that saying "go big or go home", right? Well, that's exactly what's going on here. This issue is one large slice of awesome, and the topping is an extra amount of awesome. Sorry, I just couldn't resist the pizza pun.
|Variant cover by Kevin Eastman and Ronda Pattison|
To me, Santolouco and Pattison can do no wrong. Issue after issue, this duo has created countless pages that are loaded with personality, energy, and an incredible sense of impact. Whenever there's a battle, there's no doubt these two are going to make it look appropriately fast-paced and amazing. As you more than likely know by now, their talent isn't limited to the chaotic stuff, either. Even calmer moments (e.g. reaction shots, discussions, etc.) have such convincing character work. When this duo's providing the art, you're going to believe these individuals are full of life and emotion instead of simply being static images in panels. The environment vanishes quite a bit, but it's often a justified decision. In those moments, it's usually done to help convey extra speed during something physical, and that definitely makes the instant feel more animated. Besides, there are quite a few pages where it's clear a lot of time was dedicated to an establishing shot and fleshing out the atmosphere. All in all, I have nothing but love for the artwork.
|Cover by Mateus Santolouco|
With Bebop and Rocksteady, there's a bit of silly, slapstick humor. I get this series is loaded with comedy (e.g. Mikey has an amusing line after jumping over a certain mutant), but given the intensity of the situation, that style of humor felt a little out of place and didn't make me laugh. That said, I completely realize this is a personal criticism, and the use of those moments do feel true to Bebop and Rockstready's dynamic - they aren't exactly known as the most nimble and tactical mutants around, are they? Given all that's occurring, it would have been great if the battle was more, well, badass, but the handling of it is perfectly understandable because that incident allows the heroes to use even more teamwork, and there's a really fun layout thrown in there, too. The conclusion with the two does make me ask a question or two, though. After you have characters shrug off a whole variety of attacks and walk away from having a building collapsing on them, it must be quite a challenge finding believable ways to take those two down. I would have loved to see something more along the lines of what Karai did to them (i.e. going for a weak point and getting them to submit) and that could have generated a brutal fight which is reminiscent of the one the heroes had with Slash, but it's still a very satisfying and entertaining battle. The stunning artwork doesn't hurt much, either!
|Variant cover by Robert Atkins, Chuck Arnold, and Simon Gough|
If you're going to charge $7.99 for a comic, it needs to be phenomenal. Thankfully, you can tell so much love went into creating this issue. It's clear the art team is passionate about this franchise, and it's easy to see that the people behind the story enjoy thinking about these characters and what the world can throw their way next. The price tag sure is off-putting - so many of us have a limited budget for weekly comics - but the IDW team made sure this one was worth every penny and then some.
TMNT #50 feels like a conclusion that gives you everything you could possibly want from it. Fun yet also dramatic fights? Check. Strong characterization? Another check. Light teasers about what's to come? Yup! Twists you won't see coming? Major check. (Really, I expected things to play out one way - and they did - but then it went in a totally different direction. Bravo, storytellers.) Consistently excellent - or should I say "bodacious"? - artwork? A big ol' check. There's even a reference or two to Eastman and Peter Laird's very first TMNT issue - some probably slipped past me, too. This isn't just a conclusion to an important storyline - it's also a celebration of just how phenomenal IDW's take on this franchise has become. I loved the Ninja Turtles back when I was a kid, and IDW is making sure I love them just as much now. Prepare for awesomeness, TMNT fans.