The final issue of what has been a fantastic run of micro-series installments that focuses on the villains of TMNT comes to a close, this time featuring the most recognizable baddie of them all: The Shredder. Does the iconic villain’s issue deliver? Is it good?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villains Micro-Series #8: Shredder (IDW Publishing)
The story begins with Karai giving an account of the Foot Clan’s growing power as they tighten their grip on the city. After vaguely referring to Oroku Saki’s reincarnation from the dead, Kitsune (the mystical fox chick who helped start the Foot and put Leonardo under the “I hate my family” spell) decides to press Shredder on what exactly happened during his time between lives.
After a bit of nagging, he finally relents, explaining to her how he fell into a realm of the dead/purgatory-like landscape. Upon entering the ethereal plane, he was met by a demon, who predicted that Shredder would one day be resurrected… but in the meantime, he would be a complete ass and try to take over the spirit realm. The demon warns him that this will result in the loss of his soul, but Shredder being Shredder doesn’t really care; if he had to reside in this place, he would eventually rule it, as well.
But you can keep your soul…if you help me fix my massive under bite!
Shredder walks across the barren spiritual wasteland towards a distant fortress, which he determines is the realm’s seat of power. Nearby are a group of warriors from different eras, all waiting to take up arms against something. Shredder tries to rally them, but instead ends up on the receiving end of a multi-sourced beat down. Eventually, however, he turns on the dictatorial charm and gets them on his side for the invasion.
At this point, the story seems like pretty standard supervillain fare. Sure, it may feature some high minded afterlife concepts, but nothing new or exciting for any longtime genre fan reading this. But what Shredder ends up finding in the fortress is where the brilliant story by scripter Paul Allor and artist Dan Duncan really grabs you by the throat.
As good as this run of TMNT has been, an often overlooked aspect of it is that The Shredder’s motivations for wanting to amass so much power seem petty at worst and pedestrian at best. Sure, the man he feels betrayed him (Splinter/Hamato Yoshi) is still out there, but that seems like a pretty absurd reason for wanting to take over New York. Otherwise, Saki just seems like the typical power hungry super villain you’d see on a Saturday morning cartoon. But the script by Allor (along with the shocking fortress revelation) gives all of the actions that we’ve seen from him during the main TMNT series take on a much more urgent, impactful, and (dare I say) sympathetic tone.
As far as the artwork goes, calling Duncan’s pencils “uneven” would be an understatement. Some of his panels, especially those in the spirit realm, are breathtakingly gorgeous. The one with warriors from all the different eras converging on a fallen Shredder is all types of incredible. But other panels, particularly those at the beginning and end of the issue that feature a large amount of dialogue between Shredder and Evil Fox Lady, don’t have the same clarity and sharpness as the more kinetic stuff…which is very strange. For many artists, it’s the exact opposite. None of it, however, is ever of poor quality.
- Story gives Shredder a fascinating (and somewhat sympathetic) motivation for his desire to amass power
- Art in most places is great, particularly scenes taking place in the spirit realm
- Artwork not nearly as good during dialogue scenes or less kinetic panels in general
Is It Good?
The Shredder installment of this incredible micro-series never quite rises to the brilliance of Issue #3 (Old Hob), nor does it make itself required reading for the main TMNT series like Issue #4 (Alopex). What it does accomplish, however, is adding an incredibly beneficial layer to one of the main villains residing in its universe. This issue isn’t the best in the series, but it definitely belongs in a group that has delivered some of the best stories to the superbly crafted modern TMNT mythos.