Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #9. The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #11.
*Raph fought Alopex in Microseries #1, Mikey fought the thieves for a radioactive jewel in Microseries #2, Don fought Baxter’s goons in Microseries #3 and Leo fought the Foot Clan in Microseries #4.
*Hamato Yoshi’s past with Oroku Saki was detailed in TMNT (IDW) #5.
*Among the comics at the Second Time Around shop is a copy of Silver Sentry #1. Silver Sentry was a character from the 4Kids TMNT series.
*The organization Chet checks in with will be revealed in TMNT Microseries #8: Fugitoid.
*This issue contained three variant covers: Cover A by Duncan and Pattison, Cover B by Eastman and Pattison and Cover RI by Tyler Walpole.
What’s that, Will Smith? “Shit just got real,” you say? Indeed, sir. Indeed.
This was a real page-turner and probably one of the most suspenseful issues of IDW’s TMNT series; I’d probably rank it second to issue #5, in fact. There’s a great flow to the three separate narratives going on simultaneously and each comes with its own multitude of tension-building elements.
For Baxter, he’s just screwed up his last opportunity with General Krang and his head is about to roll. Seeing Baxter lose his smarmy composure was a treat and I especially liked seeing him talk back to Krang (though not as much as I enjoyed seeing Hob talk back to Baxter). As smart as he is, though, I hope that Baxter doesn’t let Krang take him down without a fight; a genius like his certainly has some self-preservation contingencies to fall back on, right?
What I really like about Waltz’s take on the Turtles is that they act like real teenagers. Mirage, 4Kids, Archie and Fred Wolf all treated them like miniature adults, with Mikey pretty much being the receptacle for all “immature” behavior (less so in Mirage, admittedly). Here, though, they’re all a percolating brew of hormones and egos and youthful defiance. They’re faced with losing their father and not knowing where to go, so they immediately start bickering like, well, kids. Because that’s what they are (which so many writers seem to forget).
The rivalry between Leo and Don has been one of Waltz’s most inspired character adjustments for his series and it was great to see the dam finally burst. Leo takes everything Splinter says on face value because he basically worships the old rat, so to have Don come out and say that their dad was either a liar or senile doesn’t sit well with him. Then Don backs it all up with his analysis of their many adventures and leaves Leo stumped to come up with a quality retort to back his claims (to say nothing of Don calling out Leo as a cruddy “leader”). Then Raph interjects with his impatient bullying and Mike tries to calm everybody down but no one will listen to him because he’s the runt of the litter… It was just a great bit of character chemistry, and while we’ve gotten arguments between the Turtles before, this one felt more sincerely tied into their actual ages. And, of course, April plays den mother as is her eternal curse in the TMNT universe.
Splinter’s plotline is probably what we all came to see, though. All things considered, Shredder doesn’t do much more in this issue than he did in the last page of the previous installment; he just stands around and looks cool. The reveal that he is, in fact, Oroku Saki back from the dead leaves me with many questions. Is he the same ninja that’s been appearing throughout the book (the one Splinter scarred in TMNT #2, the one from the end of Microseries #1, the one that put the hurt on Leo in Microseries #4)? If so, why was he running around in regular Foot Soldier garb all those times? To secretly test the Turtles for their skill? And if not, why are their two scar-faced Foot ninja out there?
As a matter of fact, this issue opens up several cans of “da hell?” on the reader. Who is Chet talking to? Is he a Foot agent? Clearly, he doesn’t work for Krang and Baxter, so if he isn’t Foot, then who is the third party? And who was that standing outside the Second Time Around shop? And Hell, do we even know who the Savate ninja from TMNT #6 was working for, yet?
Duncan’s art gets better with each issue. Some readers have taken issue with a bit of “corner cutting” here and there in regards to detail or smudgy grey environments or that his layouts lack pizzazz, but I can’t hold anything against him in that regard. Duncan has gotten a monthly book out on time for ten issues straight, and quite frankly, his art is perfectly serviceable and befitting of the title. Take into account other so-called artists whom bigger name companies keep on because “they can make monthly deadlines”, like that no-talent porn-tracer Greg Land, and all of a sudden Duncan’s ability to produce these pages on an efficient and steady 30-day basis seems all the more impressive.
IDW’s TMNT is a slow-burn series that has a habit of asking questions faster than it answers them, but I can’t argue that it is effectively suspenseful. There was a lot of action in this installment and the three narratives were paced out particularly well. Best of all, though, were the character moments between the Turtles and it’s a relief to see that Mikey isn’t the only one who can act like an immature teenager sometimes (in fact, as he was attempting to defuse the situation, one could argue he was the most mature of his brothers!).
Grade: A (as in, “Androgynous is probably the best way to describe Duncan’s Alopex”.)