Wednesday, November 1, 2017

TMNT (IDW) #75

Publication date: October 25, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith, Mateus Santolouco, Chris Johnson, Damian Couceiro
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee 
Edits: Bobby Curnow

"The Trial of Krang, Part Three"


In Dimension X, Queen Maligna unleashes the full fury of her Malignoid Swarm on the planet Neutrino.  Triceraton Commander Zom orders her fleet to take the front line and they're flanked by Zak, Kala, Ace Duck and a fighter unit he convinced to join his cause.  Unfortunately, the Swarm is so huge, many Malignoids slip through.

On the surface of the planet, Dask rallies an army of Neutrino soldiers to defend the capital.  He outfits the Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo with armor, jet-packs and energized weapons so they can help fight.

Meanwhile, Donatello and the Fugitoid guard the witnesses until the trial of Krang can resume.  B'een gives off an early warning, but too late, as Hakk-R bursts in and attacks, outmatching Donnie one-on-one.  Luckily, Polly's pollen blast stuns him and he runs back into Judge Gorath's quarters (where he'd killed the judge, earlier).  Anemon out-muscles the weakened Hakk-R and subdues him just as Malignoids begin to invade the chamber.  Leatherhead takes out some while the other Turtles swoop in and destroy the rest.

Knowing they'd need a plan to stop the invasion at its source, Donnie gets an idea from Polly's pollen.  He asks if she could release all of her pollen at once, and she reveals that she can, but doing so would put her into a coma and she would have to return to her homeworld to rejuvenate.   Donnie then convinces Stump to make a deal with Hakk-R who begrudgingly accepts.

Hakk-R then teleports onto Maligna's mothership and releases polly's pollen into the vent system.  The hallucinagen causes Maligna to panic and withdraw her Swarm, ordering them to retreat.  As the battle concludes, Donnie tells the others that he had Stump promise Hakk-R double what Krang was paying him, plus lifetime box tickets to Grappleganza.

The next day, the trial resumes, though King Zenter is called to preside in place of the late Judge Gorath.  Leatherhead is called to the stand to testify and he relates the story of his origin and imprisonment on Earth by General Krang.  His grievance has less to do with Krang's penchant for destruction but is instead aimed at his recklessness with creation, as Leatherhead resents being a freak of nature with cognizance of his existence.

General Krang is finally called to the stand and he defiantly admits to all of his actions, but proceeds to defend them.  He insists that everything he did was for the survival of the Utrom race and asks King Zenter if he would not go to the same lengths to protect the Neutrino people.  Closing statements are then made, as the Fugitoid relates the death of his family and his transformation at the hands of Krang and claims that there is no justification for genocide.  The defense reiterates that Krang did what he had to do to save his people from extinction and that there is no way to play nice in war.

King Zenter leaves to ponder his verdict and the Turtles, royal family and witnesses are allowed into the courtroom to watch the verdict be delivered.  Zenter soon returns and says that due to conflict of interest, he cannot pass judgment on Krang or sentence him on his own.  Instead, he sought counsel from Ma'Riell of the Utroms, who has agreed to imprison Krang for life on Burnow Island, Earth.  Lieutenant Kleve and Corporal Montuoro then enter through a portal to take Krang into custody.  Enraged at the verdict, Leatherhead promptly EATS Krang and then escapes to Burnow Island through the portal.

The two startled Utrom guards admit to King Zenter that perhaps a quick death was a better end for the General than a lifetime in confinement and return to Burnow Island.  Once there, they curse Leatherhead for taking their true leader from them and vow not to let Ma'Riell know what has happened.  Instead, they will work to revive Colonel Ch'Rell and finish Krang's work.

Back on Neutrino, Zak and Kala gather up the witnesses and help them all get home.  The Fugitoid decides to stay behind and help his people build a better defense against the Malignoids.  Dask then helps the Turtles teleport back home.

Meanwhile, the royal family contacts Commander Zom to tell her that their bargain will be honored.  Wanting to right the wrong the Utroms inflicted on the Triceratons by taking them from their homeworld long ago, he offers to teleport them all back to their proper dimension so they can return to Earth, where they belong.  Zom and her forces then cross through the portal and disappear.  Zenter hopes that all Earthlings are as kind as the Turtles and will find a place for their long-lost brethren.

On Earth, the EPF gets a warning of the invading Triceraton fleet and Agent Bishop is called to action.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #74.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #76.

*The events of the TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 miniseries take place between this and next issue.

*To celebrate the release of the 75th issue of the series, IDW partnered with local comic shops for a TMNT Day event.  It was not widely promoted and very few shops in the country participated in the events.  The TMNT Day 2017 Sampler special was released as a giveaway alongside this issue.

*This issue was originally published with 14 fucking variant covers: Cover A by Cory Smith and Ronda Pattison, Cover B by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, Retailer Incentive by Ben Bates, AOD Collectibles Exclusive by Hal Laren, Comics and Ponies Exclusive by Eastman and Varga, Fried Pie Exclusive by Veronica Fish, Giant Robot Exclusive by Casey Coller, Knowhere Games & Comics/Brave New World Exclusive by Deth P./Jesse Heagy and David Baron, TMNT Day Exclusive by Jon Lam, Planet Awesome Collectibles Exclusive by Eastman and Joe Sinnot, Planet Awesome Collectibles Exclusive black and white version, Planet Awesome Collectives Exclusive by Humberto Ramos, and Planet Awesome Collectibles Exclusive blank sketch cover.


I can say that this finale to "The Trial of Krang" left me wanting for nothing.  While the Turtles sort of sat out the previous installment, they got lots of action throughout this double-length finale.  The witnesses, too, got their licks in and I don't feel anyone was particularly shortchanged.

The first thing I feel I should address is how they handled Hakk-R in this conclusion.  He was introduced as being this unstoppable badass, but throughout the Dimension X miniseries, he got his ass kicked so much he sort of turned into a gag villain.  I was curious how he was going to be portrayed in this finale; if his decay in threat would be acknowledged, and if so, how they would work that out.  There's a happy compromise, as Hakk-R only goes up against Donatello in a solo match, and while Hakk-R may not be much of challenge for the Turtles in a group anymore, he can still trounce them one at a time.  Polly winds up being the hero of that confrontation, in something of a surprise, and then Hakk-R and Polly kinda-sorta team-up to be the REAL saviors of the battle!

Actually, all the witnesses get their chance to contribute, with B'een sounding an alarm, Amenon and Eyemo subduing the poisoned Hakk-R and Stump using his influence to convince the mercenary to switch sides.  And then there's Ace Duck, who skips out on the trial to fight the battle up in space.  No one introduced throughout this rather long arc gets left behind and this is a conclusion that definitely feels like the sum of all its parts.

I suppose the only character who gets a bit skipped over is Queen Maligna.  She's been a looming threat since this arc began, but she only appears for a few pages and is dispatched in a rather easy fashion.  But in this case, I see her as being more of a tease for a future storyline; whenever the Turtles decide to return to Dimension X, she'll be the Big Bad that's waiting for them.  And anyway, Krang using her to hedge his bets was a nice callback to TMNT Adventures #12, when he did the same thing.

The trial gets its due attention at the end of the book and the drama doesn't let up.  Zenter taking Gorath's place was a great example of misdirection, luring the reader into assuming what his verdict would be only to give us something that we didn't even know was an option at the end.  He's guilty, yes, but not to be sentenced by the Neutrinos, but by the Utroms.  When Kleve and Montouro show up, you start to guess that we won't be seeing the last of Krang and then CHOMP.  Nah, he's dead.

THAT was a kickass shocker and I ain't even a little bit mad.  I think Krang's gotten about all the attention he deserves in the IDW series and the trial was a natural conclusion to his arc.  And even so, with Ch'Rell waiting in the wings, we know that Krang's work isn't finished even if he's currently nothing but fragments in Leatherhead's stool.  I'm curious how Ch'Rell will be characterized in this series to differentiate him from Krang, but we've probably got a long wait to see how that rolls out.

Zenter's naivete in turning the Triceratons loose on Earth was maybe a bit annoying, but when his only encounter with Earthlings was through the Turtles, I can see how he'd make the mistake that we're all as goody-goody as they are.  Still, he maybe should've asked the Fugitoid for some counsel on human nature before setting a warrior race and their fleet of destruction on an unsuspecting planet.  The next arc should be a good one.

Also, Commander Zom is apparently female.  That makes her the SECOND female Triceraton in the franchise's history, coming in behind General Zera from the Half-Shell Heroes: Blast to the Past cartoon.  Maybe someday we'll be able to count the number of female Triceratons on more than one hand.  Maybe in another 30 years.

Anyhow, while I found the Dimension X miniseries stretch of this arc to be a little uneven, I think the ongoing's chapters of "Trial of Krang" were all superb.  As a "milestone" issue, #75 perhaps lacks the game-changing feel of TMNT #50, but it still ends up being suitably big in terms of what it does to the landscape of the universe (or multiverse, I guess).  Now, we all just have to dig in for that long march to TMNT #100.  Can't wait.


BatSnake said...

I personally feel like the Malignoid swarm could have been left out entirely, instead spending more focus on giving Krang a good send-off. Especially since he didn't even show up until the second half of this issue (which makes me wonder...just what was he doing while waiting for everything to be over and why didn't they use his military might to their advantage?). He pretty much spent the first two parts doing nothing significant but whine.

Being the Utrom person that I am, I had been very much hoping that Krang would reunite with his people at some point. Maybe witnessing a lot of them in a delicate state might make him take things down a few notches and lay low for a little bit; let them get their bearings together before revamping his efforts. It was on my "wish list" for the series ever since I started reading. So of course, I'm not as fond of the ending as others might be. I'm even a little saddened, especially remembering his scene collapsing in the stasis room toward the end of Utrom Empire after restarting the generator.

As for Ch'rell...most of his characterization post-revival will probably be centered on grieving and Captain Ahab-ing around for Leatherhead and/or the turtles. That's one thing Leatherhead probably didn't think about - revenge seekers.
I am a little disappointed that we won't get to see what he's like without a dead Krang in the main plotline. Knowing the way things go, of course we'll see his "normal" in flashbacks and micro issues. But bringing him in now will probably mean little for his character, besides mourning Krang, placing blame, and calling for revenge. Which likely won't end well for him. Especially since he's up next for a War Crime trial.

His behavior would also depend on what kind of relationship he had with Krang. Was it solely a professional reverence or was there something going on behind closed doors? Or something in between? We'll find out soon enough (and it's so hard to not set myself up for disappointment with the second, after setting myself up for disappointment big time with the Trial arch)

Anonymous said...

I feel like this is the longest the Turtles have been outside of New York in this continuity (Northampton notwithstanding)
#75 is a big milestone for any comic not made by Marvel or DC. The only other one I can think of is Zenoscope's first Grimm Fairy Tales series.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the third season of the 4kids TMNT cartoon, Ch'Rell was taken off the board (at least until the series finale) after he lost his trial. He was then succeeded by his "apprentice", Karai.

Now we're at the end of the third "season" of this comic, and Krang is taken off the board after a trial as well and Ch'Rell is waiting in the wings as Krang's successor.

Dermot Mac Flannchaidh said...

Of everything in this issue, I have most thoughts about the ending. Yes, it was na├»ve for Zenter to just expect the Triceratons and the rest of Earth's natives to get along. But I got the greater impression that that was actually the lesser concern to Zenter—this was about a fundamental injustice the Utroms had committed against the Triceratons, and the just remedy would be the right to return to their homeworld. Since they have no homeworld and they came from Earth, then it reasons that Earth is their homeworld as relatively straightforward matter of rights. A right to a homeworld, a right belong somewhere. I get the impression that, even if Honeycutt had been consulted, it might not have changed Zenter's decision, because as a judge he had to make the tough and fair decisions, and this was something the Triceratons fundamentally deserved as a remedy for injustice and in return for their faithful service.

All that said...woooooo, this is going to be complicated. (But this case, complicated can make for good fiction, so pass the popcorn.) You see, human history is full of decisions made out of good intentions that often had extremely ugly consequences because of a natural tendency of many humans to react with selfishness and xenophobia rather than altruism and fellowship, especially when the foundation for mutual understanding is poor. For instance, there are real world international conventions on the treatment of refugees, because people fleeing war, famine, genocide, nuclear disasters (Chernobyl, Fukushima), long-term volcanic eruptions (Montserrat), loss of flat low land to rising seas (Kiribati, Maldives, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands where I'm from), etc., have a human right to seek refuge. But even in very ideal circumstances, it can become a significant source of friction when there are a lot of refugees all at once.

So even in a best case scenario, if the Triceratons make peaceful contact like the Utroms did in Mirage volume 4, and then they say their ancestors were taken from this planet long ago and they're finally coming home, and they want a place on Earth to settle possibly millions or even billions of their race, preferably with good land and resources, etc... What are Earth's nations going to say? "Here, have a hemisphere." "Eurasia looks nice." Yeah, Earth's inhabitants can't easily agree on much smaller refugee crises, so ''this'', right or wrong, would be a train wreck.

Since this story has built such good momentum to this point, I hope the writers maintain more good momentum going forward. However, if the story just turns the Triceratons into violent mass-murderers clearing unwanted inhabitants, or mass-occupiers looking down on primitive savages (both scenarios making Triceratons as a whole appear unsympathetic to the reader from the onset), then the story risks really losing an opportunity to use fiction as a vehicle to reflect difficult real-world ethical dilemmas. (And I think stories that reflexively avoid these things tend to be sterile and uninteresting empty calories anyway.) And there's all sorts of good show-don't-tell ways to write these kinds of scenarios too, where a story's anvil drops appear organic to the events and don't resemble an awkwardly-inserted author tract.

All in all, I can't wait to see what comes next.

Shane Hero said...

Loved this issue, it was a great action packed story and like you said, nothing felt overlooked.

I definitely feel like this was very much just a teaser for Maligna, so I’m happy to accept how relatively little she played a part in the story.

The death of Krang was a shock I didn’t see coming. Ch’Rell will obviously now be filling the void of both Krang and Shredder once he is on the scene.

Of course, with reincarnation and time travel all established as possibilities within this universe there always remains the possibility that in some way Krang and Shredder could always return to this continuity down the track. But for now, given how long this series has been going, it’s pretty cool that it’s heading into a new phase that not many TMNT series have ever really got to, and they can start to showcase some other villains.

Adam said...

I've seen one or two reviews that criticize this issue heavily for its unusual pacing (first half of the issue being a space battle, second half being more courtroom drama heavy on exposition), but like you I found it worked perfectly and was fitting for a double-sized issue that wraps up a plot-heavy storyline years in the making.

My gut told me that the only real twist of the story would be if Krang were acquitted of his crimes (for whatever reason) and that would just lead to more future stories, but I didn't see his demise coming. I figured if there was going to be a major character death, it would have been Fugitoid. Krang had it coming. I look forward to seeing how Ch'rell picks up the mantle.

Chet said...

Leatherhead eating Krang has got to be one of the most brutal deaths in the TMNT multiverse. Of course, this is not the only act of cannibalism (if that's the proper term here) in the franchise, with Wyrm feeding on Scumbug in TMNT Adventures (before they both died by getting crystalized by an alien vigilante spider), and Rat King's ghost force feeding a rat to Splinter in the Mirage series. There probably are more I can't think of right now.

What makes this so shocking is that one of the franchise's most iconic and beloved bad guys gets eaten by on the Turtles' best-known allies, a good guy in most incarnations. Of course, Leatherhead certainly has his anger issues, and has killed before, but even for this version of the character straight up murdering the person he hates most by eating him is cold-blooded, thus consolidating his anti-hero status - and leaving you with some sympathy for Krang, even if he's the book biggest douchebag...

R said...

I noticed Ace is very similar to Star Fox, down to the eyepiece and his ship copying the design of an X-Wing. Very cool.

eddiephlash said...

Fugitoid... worked on this case for months... and... Leatherhead just... he ate Krang.

Austin Reed said...

Both Sonic comics hit that milestone too.