Eastman, Waltz, Campbell, Pattison
I will most certainly be SPOILING.
This month’s issue picks up right in the thick of the fight that ended with Leonardo’s entrance last issue. In the dramatic pause that Leonardo has caused, we are finally offered a name for the owl mutant assassin – Koya.
A little kung-fu epic dialogue ensues, referencing Leonardo’s time with the Foot, and the fight is joined once more between the turtles and their attackers. In a brief showcase of the fighting spirit, or perhaps age, Donatello and Michelangelo don’t continue fighting until ordered by their returned leader. Reluctantly they return to the fight.
Through a series of blow for blow interactions, it becomes clear that Koya is an even match for Leonardo and this duel is anyone’s game. The same could be said for the Foot assassins that are fighting the other two turtles, until they reveal their desire to use high explosives!
The blast does no real damage to anything but the barn in which the scene is taking place, it stops Raphael from killing Alopex. The smoke begins to clear, and one of the assassins fighting in the barn is missing, only to show himself behind Raphael. With a single kick, Alopex proves her innocence, but realizes she will never be trusted and walks into the woods and presumably out of the turtle’s lives.
With the operatic combat in full swing, the comic returns to Casey and April visiting her parents. April is struggling to talk to her mother and father about her findings at Stockgen labs and the potential of what she found there. Before she can finish, the grenade goes off in the barn, ending all discussion and drawing civilians towards the mutant warzone.
Back at the barn, Raphael rejoins his brothers for the fight, quickly turning the tides against the assassins. Leaving the red -apped assassins on the ground, Raphael seeks to aid his eldest brother against the mutant Koya.
The predatory bird comes off a little unhinged, chanting the atrocities he intends to commit on the bodies of the turtles. Raphael leaps into action. Before his blow can fall, we find ourselves in April’s van coming up onto the burning barn. To the astonishment of April’s mother, Raphael and Koya explode from the side of the barn.
Proving that he has no honor, Koya throws Raphael from their grapple and attacks the innocents who have just arrived on scene, calling them his weakness.
This culminates in the most surprising, funniest panel in the entire book, as Michelangelo sails from the barn riding the motorcycle that they just fixed at the beginning of last issue and plows into the avian assassin. The look of glee on his face, as well as his request to do it again, shifts the tone to a triumphant light mood.
The contrast of the new mood to the following scene must have been intentional, for Leonardo draws the reader into a dark moment of decision making. Everyone watching, Leonardo has to choose between the killer he may have become for the Shredder and the leader he aims to be for his family. Instead, he merely gives Koya a time limit to save himself from death, forcing the assassins to retreat.
During the dénouement of the story, the turtles move on, apologizing to April’s mother and aiming to return to the city. April offers the vial of healing ooze and a brief explanation to her mother, who promptly heals her father.
The turtles, once more reunited, are aiming to hunt down the foot clan, bringing the fight to their old enemy. On a somber note, as they leave Northampton, Alopex is crouching morosely on a tree branch. This image is one of particular emotion and deserves to be noted.
This issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles delivers on a number of levels, but its greatest strength is that it is fun. The climax focusing so much on surprise and the light-hearted Michelangelo really made this fun read. The action is excellent and the healing of April’s father make the end of this story arc a happy ending to remember.
My rating: 5/5