Teenage Mutant Turtles #31
Eastman, Waltz, Campbell, Pattison
SPOILER ALERT! I will most certainly be SPOILING!
Let me just say that it is refreshing to read a comic that actually gives the reader some time to breathe. If you are like most comic book fans, you live for the moments. Generally speaking, those moments come from meaningful character developments. That is exactly what you get in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #31.
Issue 31 opens with Casey Jones and Donatello working on an old motorcycle and having some interspecies bro time. The opening dialogue sets the theme for the majority of the comic; no matter how complex, keep it simple.
Jumping to Raphael doing meditative Tai Chi in the woods, and an interesting, somewhat flirtatious encounter with the former foot clan mutant, Alopex, we see a softer side to the normally sarcastic and standoffish turtle. Most interesting here is the playful side of the former enemy and Raphael’s willingness to take part.
Leonardo fits the bill as contemplative, and seems to be caught up in some of the dramatic incidents preceding this issue, mostly surrounding the infamous Shredder. Splinter offers kind words, a great deal of metaphor, and seeks to assuage Leonardo’s feelings of guilt at being manipulated by the leader of their rival clan. Splinter leaves Leonardo to his own devices, reminding him that they are all one clan and that is where he belongs.
April shows up featuring a new look and some superb intrigue as her and Casey discuss her father’s work on the ooze. Having this discussion apart from our favorite teenage amphibians lends the scene a light cloak and dagger kind of feel. With both April’s father’s connection to the ooze and the Shredder’s connection to the turtle’s mentor, the roots of the situation seem deeply buried in turtles origin.
No comic, however, is complete without a little bit of action. The turtles respite ends with a troop of Foot Clan assassins showing up during dinner, lead by a brand new mutant. The deliberate choice of an owl for this mutant suggests that Splinter is the target. In the throes of combat, Raphael spots Alopex and in typical Raph fashion, gets tunnel vision and chases her down. The new Foot Mutant not only uses his ability to fly to great success, but makes terribly short work of Master Splinter.
Finally, the pay off is in the cliffhanger. When all hope seems lost and Splinter lying defeated on the floor a voice rings out over the stillness before the death blow. And in response to the Owl’s gloating.
Owl: “Are you prepared for the slaughter?”
Leonardo: “That’s funny bird, I was gonna ask you the same thing.”
And moment, achieved!
Let me just say, the art in this series is superb. Somewhere between comic book art and anime, it feels both stylized and clear. The action sequences are easily readable and the sound effects blend almost seamlessly into the illustrations.
In short, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #31 was a great read, if a little slow at times, and in one issue, has snagged yet another reader.
My rating: 4/5