Friday, November 27, 2015

TMNT (IDW) #52

Publication date: November 25, 2015

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow and Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ken Garing
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

"Order from Chaos, Part 2"


At Foot HQ, Leonardo and Alopex are demonstrating sparring techniques to a group of Foot Soldier trainees.  The lesson is on how to switch between different martial arts styles on the fly so as to keep your enemy off kilter.  As the trainees begin practicing, Leo and Alopex reminisce about how they both fought for the Foot Clan in the past, but under uniquely different circumstances.  Leo still doesn’t feel comfortable in his role as Chunin and is particularly worried about Splinter, whom he thinks is getting darker and more serious.  Alopex, while not as uncomfortable as Chunin, does miss hanging out with Angel.

Outside the Second Time Around shop, Angel hears some roughhousing in the alleys and finds Casey beating down some punks.  When he’s done, she asks him what’s up and he explains that he’s preemptively keeping his neighborhood safe; getting the punks before they can commit any crimes.  Angel isn’t too keen on that approach, but Casey says that on his road trip he learned that the bad guys are always waiting for you to let your guard down and the best defense is a good offense.  He asks why she isn’t in her Nobody suit and Angel says that Harold needed it back for upgrades.

At Foot HQ, Splinter meditates…

Not long ago.  Splinter approaches Kitsune and reveals that April told him everything about her siblings and “the game”.  He urges her to drop all pretenses and tell him what her scheme is.  Kitsune remains coy, insisting that her brother and sister were merely playing with April and Casey, as immortals enjoy manipulating humans to pass the time.  Splinter warns her that he will not tolerate any attempts on her part to undo the work he’s doing in restoring the Foot Clan’s honor.  Kitsune warns him that she isn’t the one he should be worried about…

The present.  Splinter is woken from his meditation by the female Foot Assassin.  She accuses him of defanging the Foot Clan as Jonin and is joined by Jammer, Maze and the rest of the Street Phantoms.  Splinter defends himself and calls in a pair of Elite Guard to help.  The Elites are taken down quickly by the Phantoms while Splinter deals with the Assassin.

Outside, Leo, Alopex and the trainees rush to help Splinter, but they’re blocked by the Street Phantoms.  The intangibility cloaks make them almost impossible to tag and the Foot take a beating.  Leo and Alopex decide to put their own lesson about keeping the enemy off kilter into practice.  Leo distracts Jammer and Maze, goading them into hand-to-hand combat.  As soon as they become tangible, Alopex slices off their cloaks, allowing Leo to knock them out.  The other Street Phantoms collect their leaders and retreat.

Meanwhile, Splinter fights the Assassin and unmasks her.  She identifies herself as Jennika, and as an Assassin, she feels betrayed by Splinter’s new, less lethal direction for the Foot Clan.  Splinter assures her that there will be need for Assassins in the Foot’s future, as they fight to maintain authority over the city’s underworld.  He also reminds her that he seized control of the Foot by killing the Shredder and isn’t nearly as non-violent as she thinks he is.  Jennika apologizes and swears allegiance to Splinter.  Splinter accepts, but demotes her and leaves her punishment up to his Chunin.

Elsewhere, Michelangelo hesitantly follows Mondo Gecko to Mutanimal HQ.  Mikey says that he didn’t want to join the Foot Clan, but hooking up with Old Hob seems like a lateral move.  Mondo tells him that the Mutanimals are more than just Old Hob and he has plenty of friends waiting for him.  Indeed, upon arriving, the Mutanimals greet him with a surprise party.

Unbeknownst to any of them, they’re being monitored by Agent Winter, who appears to be working for an organization called Dark Water.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #51.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #53.

*Leo and Alopex reminisce about the times they were both tricked into working for the Foot Clan.  Both Leo and Alopex rebelled against the Foot in TMNT (IDW) #28.

*Casey mentions his road trip with April, which concluded in TMNT: Casey & April #4.

*Agent (Alex) Winter and Dark Water originate from the TMNT animated series produced by Fred Wolf.  They were featured in the season 8 episode "State of Shock".

*This issue was originally published with 7 variant covers; Regular Cover by Garing, Subscription Cover by Eastman, Retailer Incentive by Ibraham Moustafa, Blindbox Exclusive by Clay Mann and Ulises Arreola, and 3 Blindbox Exclusives (Blue Leo, Red Leo, April) by Robert Atkins, Chuck Arnold and Simon Gough.


In the letters page, Curnow refers to #51 and #52 as a “mini arc”, so I guess this was a two-parter?  I’ve been asking for two-parters for a while now, so I ain’t complaining.  I’m just curious what the story arc of these two issues really was; setting up the status quo or was there some more complete narrative in these issues?  Jennika acting like an idiot?  Was this actually HER story?  I guess…

…we’ll find out in 30 days.

Regarding the status quo, we catch up with some of the other characters.  I had forgotten that #51 skipped things ahead by a whole month, so all these characters talking about how much things have changed and how they don’t like where things have been going, etc. felt a little strange.  We sort of missed something with the time skip, so we have to be TOLD about all these sweeping changes as opposed to having seen them…


I guess if you’re reading through the series and you slot the Casey & April miniseries between #50 and #51, that’ll help the time skip feel a bit more organic.  It takes a while to drive from New York to California and back…

…after all.

Alopex and Leo getting all buddy-buddy was a nice touch, if sort of a delayed bit of characterization.  Remember way back in TMNT #30, during the Northampton arc, when Raph caught Alopex stalking Leo because she felt a kinship with him?  The writers sort of forgot about that and whatever friendship Leo and Alopex were developing got delayed almost two years.  Good to see it revived in this issue, even if it was a small moment.  Alopex on her own has felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the Turtles.  She has that budding romance with Raph (or whatever it is), but we haven’t really seen how she interacts and mingles with the rest of the TMNT.  I think that’s probably why she hasn’t felt very integrated…

…into the cast.

Angel giving Casey a hard time seemed awkward at first, but made more sense after I reread it.  I mean, Angel’s a vigilante, too, so why is she admonishing Casey for doing the exact same thing?  I think the angle is that Casey is getting a little unhinged and his proactive approach to cleaning up the streets is taking things too far.  Those were punks and thugs, sure, but they hadn’t yet committed any crimes.  While it’s never a good idea to be strictly reactionary either, being too gung-ho and looking for trouble can lead to…

…some bad outcomes.

And at any rate, THIS Casey is finally starting to feel more like the Mirage Casey.  Less pretty boy punching bag, more looney street brawler that can hold his own in a fight.  I mean, really, compare Casey as he appears in this comic with how he appeared in the Casey & April miniseries.  It’s like they’re barely even…

…the same character.

Then there’s Jennika.  Is that the payoff to the Foot Assassin mystery?  Some character we’ve never heard of before who doesn’t like Splinter but never mind, she likes him now?  I’m assuming there’ll be more to her than this, because man...

...there has GOT to be.  

The Street Phantoms were pretty cool, with the same look and powers they had in the Fast Forward cartoon.  The way Leo and Alopex defeated them was kind of lame, though; goading them into shutting down their intangibility cloaks with a fist fight?  It’s one of those defeats that hinges entirely on the stupidity of the antagonist.  You know, sort of like the ending to…


Garing is leaving after this issue.  I can’t say his style would have been a long-term fit for the series, but I enjoyed the variety for a couple issues.  He felt more like something out of Mirage and I definitely needed a break from all the “cutesy” stuff.  I think my only real complaint is that sometimes his expressions don’t match the scenario.  Like Angel on panel 3 of page 5, drawing her tonfa and turning to the sound of danger.  She’s supposed to look surprised (she says “what…”), but she’s smiling like she’s posing for a photo.  There are moments like that which feel…

…a little bit awkward.

And yes, in case you’re wondering why I’m using all the ellipses, well, go back and read any given issue of the TMNT ongoing.  You’ll notice that there’s this way Waltz likes to transition from one scene to another by having a character’s dialogue trail off into ellipses…

…and then resume in a box on the first panel of the next page, overhanging the new setting and ominously foreshadowing its events in some way.  

I mean, there’s nothing inherently WRONG with such a device, it’s just that Waltz uses it SO MUCH.  And in a book that juggles so many different characters and plot lines, constantly having to bounce back and forth between them every couple of pages, we end up seeing the ellipses-transition-dialogue-foreshadowing technique A LOT.

I mean, how often can the characters be coincidentally/unknowingly predicting what the rest of the cast is doing?  It’s like everybody in this book has precognition or ESP or something.

Anyway, so far the new status quo has me intrigued.  The Mutanimals thing is especially interesting, particularly when you combine it with Splinter’s declaration to consolidate authority in New York under the Foot Clan.  It looks like the book may be heading toward a confrontation between Splinter’s Foot Clan and Hob’s Mutanimals, with Michelangelo’s allegiances maybe caught in the middle.  Combined with the other factors at play and it ought to be something to look forward to.

Grade: C+ (as in, “Come on, why the hell was Mikey so joyous upon being greeted by freakin’ Mutagen Man at his surprise party?  He’d never MET Mutagen Man before.  Jesus, if I opened a door and a glowing tank of human organs leapt out and screamed SURPRISE at me the last thing I’d do is say ‘aw shucks, you guys’ and then eat cake”.)