Saturday, February 18, 2017

TMNT (IDW) #67

Publication date: February 15, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee & Chris Mowry
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"Desperate Measures, Part 1"


In Harlem, Slash sits on a rooftop, reading The Grapes of Wrath to a flock of pigeons.  He's suddenly attacked by Darkwater and EPF agents, who manage to incapacitate and tranquilize him.  As the pigeons flee, Agent Bishop convenes with Sergeant Winter to collect Slash.

At the Church Lair, the Turtles are arguing over what their next move should be.  Leonardo thinks they should be training so they can be prepared for the next attack, from whoever might launch it.  Raphael thinks they should lay low and stay out of things for a while.  Michelangelo thinks they should be out fighting crime and helping those in need.  Donatello thinks they should be building up their tech now that Harold won't work with them, especially with the Pantheon out there.  Sick of arguing, Leonardo storms out.

At EPF headquarters, Bishop meets with Dr. Shevlin to get a status report on Slash.  Shevlin says that their scans have found traces of psychotropic serum in his system, accounting for his enhanced intelligence, as well as traces of PTSD, intimating that Slash had previously been weaponized.  Regardless, Shevlin has been able to implant nodes in Slash's brain, allowing him to be remotely controlled as a weapon, just as Bishop requested.

As Shevlin is dismissed, Colonel Knight enters and asks Bishop for a word.  Knight isn't too thrilled about what Bishop is getting his Darkwater mercenary unit into.  After reading up on Bishop's history with the EPF, he isn't sure that the Agent's head is in the game.  Bishop exposits that his father founded the EPF during the Cold War because he could foresee that Earth's greatest threats came from extraterrestrial and unnatural forces.  The rise of mutants is proof of that and Bishop is determined to carry on his father's work.  Knight is worried that Bishop's motivations are too personal.

At Foot Clan HQ, Leo goes to see Splinter.  He asks how Jennika is doing and Splinter says she has the makings of an excellent Chunin.  With that out of the way, Leo tells his father that he's worried his brothers aren't taking their threats seriously.  He's worried that he won't be able to effectively lead them when the time comes.  Splinter reassures him, partly happy that the weight of the world hasn't crushed his children's spirits, and insists that Leo will be a fine Master of the Hamato Clan.

At Mutanimal HQ, the team is watching a movie when a pigeon (evidently Pete's cousin Jimmy) comes tapping at the window.  At the same time, Mondo Gecko hears a knock at the door and goes to answer it.  Pete gets news from Jimmy that Slash has been kidnapped just as Slash bursts in through the front door and begins beating everyone up.  Controlled by Bishop, he smacks Old Hob away, rips off Mondo Gecko's tail, bludgeons Man Ray with it, smashes Mutagen Man's casing, body-slams Sally Pride against Pigeon Pete, and tears off Herman the Hermit Crab's left claw.  Lindsey is then tranqed by Sergeant Winter, who comes in with the EPF to secure the location.

All the Mutanimals are accounted for with the exception of Hob, who has escaped to a nearby rooftop.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #66.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #68.

*Bishop mentions "the TCRI fiasco" which concluded in TMNT Universe #4.

*Michelangelo is shown reading Batman comics, just in case anyone was still curious if the Batman/TMNT miniseries was "canon" or not (it's not).

*This issue was originally published with 5 variant covers: Regular Cover by Santolouco, Subscription Cover by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, Retailer Incentive Cover by Karl Moline, Unknown Comics Exclusive Cover 1 by Mat Nastos (color), and Unknown Comics Exclusive Cover 2 by Mat Nastos (black and white).


Oh shit, now that's how you start a new story arc.  After something of a two-month "break" (a light comedy issue and a one-shot adventure), the TMNT ongoing is kicking it into gear again.  We've got Santolouco back, the Mutanimals are front and center, TMNT Universe plot threads are now REALLY intersecting with the main book, and Bishop isn't fuckin' around.  If perhaps you were snoring through December and January, this issue is your wake up call.

Being the start of a new arc, there is a bit of exposition to sit through, but it's woven into the narrative more gracefully than, say, TMNT #61.  The fight between the Turtles is sort of a quick way to rundown the various drama assaulting them from all sides, but in a way that feels natural to the story.  They each want to handle their problems their own way, prioritizing them differently, and this is creating rifts between them.  While Leo "reminding" Raph of what's at stake was some clumsy Chris Claremont-tier stuff, you DO have to get those new readers up to speed SOMEHOW.

What I really love is how fast we're back to Bishop being a direct antagonist.  It feels like the Turtles JUST dealt with him in TMNT Universe #4 and now he's already back and packing a wallop.  In that way, he's the polar opposite of villains like the Pantheon, who are all about playing the long game and stretching their diabolical schemes out for as long as possible.  Bishop hits hard, fast and FREQUENTLY and I think it's really helping to set him apart from other bad guys that have appeared in this book.  Remember back when it took the Shredder three months to move from the spot he was standing in (TMNT #9 thru TMNT #11)?  Bishop could've had the Turtles captured, executed, dissected, stuffed and mounted in that span of time.

The Mutanimals getting wasted by Slash wasn't very flattering for the Mutanimals, but the scene as depicted was pretty brutal for this book.  Red blood and everything.  Now, I know Mondo's tail will grow back, but I'm not so sure about Herman's left claw.  Ah well, it was the small one.  The Mutanimals aren't out of the story yet, so perhaps before this arc is over they'll have the chance to get their licks in.  And anyway, this is just one more reason for Hob to want to kill all humans.  He's been racking up a lot of those, lately.

I suppose if I had to be critical again, it would once more be in regards to the exposition.  While the dialogue between the Turtles was a necessary evil to fill in new readers starting with this fresh arc, the stuff between Knight and Bishop was as awkward as a junior prom.  Bishop reminding Knight that Darkwater is a mercenary unit (he might forget!) and then going off on this weird tangent about his father and the origin of the EPF... It was "for the benefit of the audience" stuff and read like exactly that.  All it was missing was Bishop turning toward the reader and saying, "Did you get all that?"  At the very least, it helped spell out the distinction between the EPF (government agency) and Darkwater (mercenary unit).  On the off chance you hadn't pieced that together.

Moments of clumsy dialogue aside, this was a solid start to a new arc.  I'm glad to see Bishop back with guns a-blazing so quickly and we've got plenty of Mutanimal action to look forward to.  Sounds like exactly my thing.