Publication date: May, 2007
Plot: Peter Laird and Dan Berger
Artwork: Jim Lawson
Returning to the lair, Raph jokingly asks Splinter how “Foot Class” went. Leo tells Raph to be quiet, but Splinter in turn tells Leo to hold his tongue. Splinter tells his sons that the student often has wisdom and it is the responsibility of the master to seek knowledge from all sources. As he retires to his room, he says that that lesson was one of Yoshi’s core principles.
*The female ninja stole Raph’s bandana tails in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #8.
*The Foot Soldiers (Croaker, Wen, Gei and Szefchek) last appeared in TMNT (Vol. 1) #45.
*The Foot seem to have taken rather lax measures with the Hamato family after Yoshi’s disgrace. In Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #65, it was said that the standard protocol of the Japanese branch was to kill the entire family of a disgraced member.
*This issue also contained a bonus pin-up by Cheston Gasik.
“Splinter Cell” is one of the more interesting issues of Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) in that it ties up loose ends from quite a few disparate issues, essentially weaving different plot threads together which I doubt were originally intended to interconnect.
At long last, we have an explanation as to why Dan Berger’s Foot Soldiers from TMNT #45 were running around in those goofy Halloween costumes. Despite their claims, it turns out that they were never anything more than Foot Soldier wannabes. It makes a lot of sense, as the stupid outfits are the kind of things I can imagine a bunch of posers wearing; this is how they THOUGHT the Foot Soldiers dressed. It also makes their various schemes to find a master that will teach them a quick and easy path to ultimate power less random. Before, they tried to trick Leatherhead into being their master, and here they try to do the same thing to Splinter. These guys are such a pathetic joke, but funny in that manner. I kind of wish they hadn’t bought it at the end of this story (though I doubt, even if they’d survived, that we’d have ever heard from them again; we certainly never hear from Hana after this).
My only grievance, and the only thing about this story that stuck out to be as not really working, was Splinter’s claim that Croaker contacted him via the astral plane. These Foot Soldiers had been established as rather unskilled wannabes, not good enough for the Foot Clan and always trying to find a master to teach them the “easy way”. The idea that Croaker could have mastered an advanced skill like astral projection (one it took Splinter years to figure out) just doesn’t gel with what we know about these guys.
I think I’ll pretend that Croaker contacted Splinter not through the astral plane, but by dangling from a rope as his buddies operated a fog machine just out of sight.
I’ve always liked the stories that go back and investigate the lineage and relationships of Yoshi, Saki and Shen. So even though she’s only his niece, Hana’s identity came as a satisfying revelation (much like the Mistress being revealed to be Tang Amaya). Her personality in this story seems a little different than in Tales #8, where she was an immature, talkative brat. Here, she’s played as being very serious and, outside of calling Leo a “creep”, does nothing to antagonize the Turtles (whereas in her first appearance, she was all about the verbal barbs).
Like a lot of characters and plot threads introduced in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2), Hana is never seen nor heard from again. Nor referenced. She pretty much ceases to exist. One would think the niece of Hamato Yoshi would be more important than that, but I guess not. I would have liked to have seen more of her, certainly, as I think she had a lot of untapped potential as a returning character.
All this issue does is remind me why I’m enjoying IDW’s TMNT relaunch so much. In that book, the history of Yoshi and his family are explored in detail and those details are never forgotten or derailed. The episodic nature of Tales of the TMNT was one of its strong suits, but the lack of dedication to plot threads was one of its most infuriating. It enjoyed introducing “important new characters” all the time, but never had the ambition or interest to ever do anything with them beyond the introduction.
Grade: B (as in, “But I guess with Karai, Tang Amaya, April and Shadow all running around, Hana would have been one kunoichi too many”.)