Sophie Campbell’s latest issue in her tenure as writer and artist on IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has continued the trend of interpersonal conflict crucial to some of the Turtles’ best stories. Much like Mirage’s original City at War arc from the ’90s, the Mutant Town era of IDW’s book has the brothers four and their extended family dealing with the consequences of a power struggle beyond their control. With scheming from various factions within New York, new threats are constantly rising to disrupt what little delicate balance there is since the mutation bomb kicked off the book’s new status quo.
The latest issue is primarily focused on the fallout of the last, with Jennika’s baggage regarding her near-death at the hands of Karai, and subsequent mutation into a turtle herself. With the Turtles offering sanctuary to Karai and her henchmutants, Jennika starts to question whether or not it would’ve been better for everybody if they had left their enemy for dead. A great conversation is had with Donatello about the morality of this line of thinking, discussing his trauma over the near-death he suffered at the hands of Bebop and Rocksteady.
Jennika’s fast track as a full time fifth Turtle, combined with the slice-of-life approach this era has employed, hasn’t given us much opportunity to see how she and the brothers operate as a unit in the classic Turtle setup. It’s a refreshing idea to explore just how alienating the Turtles’ usual status quo is to a newcomer like her.
It’s easy to forget that Jenny not only comes from a very different kind of background, but is much less experienced in dealing with these situations than the veteran heroes in a half-shell. Campbell drawing on that to set up a potential conflict between her and the rest of the Splinter Clan down the line is an interesting prospect, and I’m eager to see when and if Jenny will finally let down her barriers and really find her place on the team.
I also have to give quick praise to the characters Tokka and Rahzar, who are a both a great bit of fan service and a great new wildcard of a threat to throw into the ring. More iconic characters from franchise past is one of the best things about IDW’s TMNT. The addition of a nod to the ‘traditional pre-fight donut’ from Secrets of the Ooze also got quite the grin out of me.
Campbell is of course also handling the artwork on this issue, which is simply fantastic. Her art really suits the tone of the book, with a style that feels like such an organic blend of the 2003 and 2012 animated shows. It’s instantly recognizable as Ninja Turtles. Her subtle distinctions for drawing each of the Turtles (such as the tiny scar over Leonardo’s eye, or their unique dojo Gi) are an especially nice touch, helping track who’s who in scenes without their distinctive masks.
The love and care into developing Jennika’s character is both compelling and welcome, but I find myself eager to find out how the other Turtles are feeling as well. Our terrapin heroes have been very lax in dealing with the larger problems at hand, and more time has been given to exploring them in an ongoing slice of life setting. There has been little discussion about what they can do to help reverse the effects of the mutagen bomb responsible for the woes of so many, including their newest family member, especially given Raphael’s previous guilt towards his part in the ordeal.
It’d be particularly engaging to explore how any different viewpoints on their current situation may clash due to their strong personalities, something we’ve gotten very little of outside Michelangelo and Jenny since the early parts of Campbell’s run. That being said, the current arc feels far from over, so it’s entirely likely these concerns are already planned on being addressed later on. As a massive Turtles fan, I remain eager to see what happens next.
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