Sunday, April 22, 2018

TMNT Universe #21

Publication date: April 18, 2018

Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Mark Torres
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Greg Goldstein

"Lost Causes, Part One"



Commander Zom and her Triceratons arrive on Burnow Island, coming in peace, but are immediately fired upon by the Utroms.  Unfortunately, there has been something of a power struggle in the wake of General Krang's death, resulting in "misinterpreted" orders.  Ma'Riell convinces Kleve to hold his fire and Zom convinces her soldiers to put their weapons down, as well.  The Triceratons are then welcomed as refugees, but tensions run high due to space constraints as well as the rocky history between the races.  To help broker peace negotiations, Donatello is brought in as a mediator.

The talks between Ma'Riell and Zom don't make much progress, stemming mainly from thelimited space on Burnow Island and the failed attempts by Triceraton scientist Yot and Utrom scientist Churk to grow crops in the post-Technodrome terraformed fields.  Churk knows that the Triceratons have grown crops on less hospitable worlds than this one, but Yot refuses to share the secret.

Meanwhile, Kleve attempts to revive war criminal Ch'Rell (and Ma'Riell's brother) from his stasis, but fails to override the security measures.  He is attacked by a Triceraton, Drell, and survives the assault.  Kleve refuses to name his attacker so that all Triceratons ultimately come under suspicion and Donatello grows more suspicious of Kleve's intentions.  Donnie begins monitoring him while also mediating the peace talks.

Eventually, progress is made on the peace talks and Ma'Riell and Zom agree to sign a treaty on Unity Field that evening.  Out in Unity Field, Zot finally concedes to tell Churk what the Triceratons' secret was to growing crops on inhospitable worlds during wartime: They ground up Utroms and used them for fertilizer.  As this shocking revelation is made, an unseen individual puts Zot in the scope of their sniper rifle.


Writer: Caleb Goellner
Artist: Pablo Tunica
Colorist: Patricio Delpeche

"How Woody Spent His Triceraton Invasion"

As the news announces that "terrorists" are attacking Manhattan, Woody gets a call to deliver a pizza across town.  Hopping on his scooter, he throws caution to the wind and drives off.

He narrowly maneuvers his way through a Triceraton/EPF battle and arrives at the 2nd Time Around shop, where Mr. O'Neil thanks him for the delivery and tips him $5.  Hopping back on his scooter, he heads back to work, just missing a battle between the Triceratons and the Purple Dragons.

Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMNT Universe #20.  The story continued in TMNT Universe #22.

*The main story takes place after TMNT (IDW) #80.

*General Krang was killed in TMNT (IDW) #75.

*The back-up takes place just after TMNT (IDW) #78.

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Freddie E. Williams II and Jeremy Colwell, Cover B by Mark Torres, and Incentive Cover by Nathen Greno and Sabine Rich.


"Invasion of the Triceratons" was an epic storyline that unfortunately suffered from a hasty conclusion.  The Triceratons being teleported to Burnow Island was a sloppily convenient resolution, with the negotiations between the Turtles and Ma'Riell happening entirely off-panel.  It felt... cheap.  Luckily, this two-part epilogue to "Invasion of the Triceratons" is here to try and add some substance to that quick-and-dirty resolution.  So far, it's actually doing a pretty good job.

Allor writes a grim and suspenseful story centered around peace negotiations between the pitiful remains of two historically warring races.  There isn't too much action in this issue, but the tension is thick-enough to cut with a knife.  Kleve's deceitful machinations provide much of the obvious conflict, but my favorite moments were the smaller exchanges that better exemplified the longstanding hostilities between the Utroms and the Triceratons.  Moments like Drel and the Utrom processing him getting into a spat over a previous battle, or the stinger ending where Zot reveals to Churk that they used Utroms for fertilizer.  These are two races that have long HATED each other and now they're trying to pull a "can't we all just get along?" shtick.  Reality is hardly that simple, and even without Kleve's scheming to exacerbate the conflict, any hope of putting water under the bridge is remote at best.

Mark Torres provides the art and his dark, inky style is an excellent fit for this drab and joyless tale.  Ronda Pattison's colors hem a bit closer to what Fotos did with Torres's pencils back in Infestation 2.  She doesn't try to brighten things, like what we saw Delgado apply to Torres's work on TMNT/Ghostbusters 2, so the moodiness makes it through intact.

"Lost Causes" is looking good so far.  I'm hoping it doesn't go for any easy answers at its conclusion next issue, as going for the most convenient solution was what hurt "Invasion of the Triceratons" and made this epilogue necessary in the first place.

UPDATE: It seems I forgot to review the back-up strip.  Hmm.  Maybe the fact that I forgot to review it can tell you everything you need to know about my feelings toward it.


BatSnake said...

One thing I'm surprised no one has really thought about in the reveal of the fertilizer, is the extra layer to horror that could be added from a previous scene. That being Kleve's battle cry as he initiates the fight with Drel: "You're used to fighting women and children".

So there's something to think about in the to-and-fros between the Triceratons and Utroms in their conflict that should not have been so easily ended.
(There's just so, so much to the Rebellion as a whole and the collapse of the Utrom Empire that I put into question)

Anonymous said...

You put the title of the LAST Universe issue on this one.

Mark Pellegrini said...


So I did. Leftover from copy/pasting some of the credit info. Fixed.

Dermot Mac Flannchaidh said...

"Lost Causes" is shaping up good so far. It is brutal in its transitions and plot developments, helping to capture that feeling of uncertainty and raw tension between two deadly enemies whose survival is in each other's hands. Both sides are overheated and distrustful, but also sympathetic in their own ways. It fits. All of it.

By the way, is it "Ma'Riell" or "Ma'riell?" I realized this is the first time I've seen anyone type her name with two capital letters instead of just one. It doesn't help that comic text is usually all-caps.

Anyway, it's a shame you didn't review the backup story. I love this one! :D And not for the cheap entertainment reasons so much as...the surrealism of it. One might say "absurdity" instead of surrealism, and to some degree that may certainly be true, but it reminded me of stories a friend used to tell me about her growing up in Beirut during the 15-year-long Lebanese Civil War, and how people tended to find a way to keep living everyday lives and enjoy public and cultural life even while bombs and artillery fire could still be heard across town; life went on where it could, how it could, because the alternative was everything grinding to a halt, and people couldn't do that forever. But even in that case, I somehow doubt people would be eager to go out much if there were any regular combat within walking distance of their everyday activities. So, yeah, there is admittedly an absurd amount of mayhem characters are willing to keep living through in this story, which seems hammed up for dark comedic value. And Mr. O'Neil having a pizza delivered during an urban battle so he can stress-eat, just screams "first world problems." But all in all, there was still enough to like in this story. As for that friend from Beirut? For all that time trying to ignore urban mayhem day after day, month after month, year after year, until the war ended, it is decidedly understandable that neither she nor the people of her city were at all fond of the sound or appearance of fireworks; just because you can live through and ignore mayhem in your midst doesn't mean it doesn't still affect you decades later, especially considering it wasn't even the last war her city would have to face. It would be interesting to see these kinds of social repercussions in this fictional New York City explored in greater depth in future TMNT stories.

Dermot Mac Flannchaidh said...

Oh, by the way, are we certain about the chronological placement of the backup story? I would place it after Invasion part 3 (not before), because the street battle between the Triceratons and the Purple Dragons has already begun, and Beth appears to be no longer filming them, having gone out on an errand to a store. I know Stockman's evacuation shuttle is supposedly on its way, so it doesn't seem like there should be spare time to go shopping and order a pizza (or for stores or pizzerias to be open, period), but either it takes hours for the shuttles to traverse a war zone, or it's just another layer of absurdist comedic license in the story.

Mark Pellegrini said...


Good catch, I'll bump it up. Thanks!

Adam said...

Diversity is hard. Often, it's a life and death matter where people are looking out for their own interests or the survival of their own tribe. The honesty of this story left a positive, if subdued, impression on me.

Dermot Mac Flannchaidh said...

Are you certain this story takes place before "Kingdom of Rats"? "Lost Causes" part 2 mentions (and I don't really think this is a spoiler) that Donatello has spent months on Burnow Island mediating for the Utroms and Triceratons, and there is at least one scene showing that he has his own bed on the island. Can it really have been that long after "Invasion of the Triceratons" and before "Kingdom of Rats" that he could spend months working as a full-time mediator? I get the impression that the time skip between "Invasion" and "Kingdom" isn't longer than maybe a few days or weeks.

I'll wait until you publish your review of part 2 before commenting further on the direct substance of that "Lost Causes" part 2.