I’m back again to look at the ongoing adventures of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from IDW, once again written and drawn by Sophie Campbell. We’ve swung full force into the Metal Band side-plot for the time being, with most of this issue continuing the slice of life aspect this run has become known for. And despite some of my misgivings on this arc as a whole, I’ve got plenty of good moments that kept this issue more or less in my good graces.
The bulk of this issue is Jennika going around, gathering her band members for her Battle of the Bands showdown with Bepop and Rocksteady, and making amends with some of the people she’s been hostile to. It’s good to see that she’s starting to mature a bit, and is able to swallow her pride and get down to business when she needs to — even if that business is shreddin’ some strings.
The personal conversations Leo and Raph have with Lita make for nice moments. It’s good to see that Raphael hasn’t completely forgotten his desire to do something about the threat of Old Hob, and whatever plans he has for Mutant Town and its citizens. Leo’s introspective and quiet questioning of his leadership is trademark Leonardo, and given that he’s my personal favorite Turtle, I was pleased with how he was characterized in that scene.
Jenny’s admission to Karai that she will never truly forgive her, and that she’s started to make peace with that, was a nice moment as well. Though, I wish we had taken more time to see her stew on it so that we could have explored the angle more before that part of her character arc came to a close.
Fans of this kind of this sitcom, slice-of-life setup that the issue rolls with will absolutely enjoy this issue. The typical Turtle formula is actually a bit of a mix of this and “monster of the week.” The average day in the life of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle often involves stopping thugs, battling bad guys and monsters from Earth or space, saving Christmas… and so on. This issue (and the run on the whole) chooses to forego most of that other aspect and lean in entirely on the slice of life. That’s a very different thing for TMNT: normality. Aside from the occasional ninja battle here or there, the focus of this run has actually been fairly down to Earth compared to what Ninja Turtles media usually has in store.
Though, I will note that I’m hoping we move away from this style of storytelling for a bit after this mini-arc is concluded. Downtime is nice, and fun even (Raph’s freestyle rap was a highlight) but there comes a time where it’s too much of a good thing, and starts evoking an antsy feeling to get a move on with the larger stuff at play. While individual issues have been, on the whole, fairly good about this, I don’t think waiting through another arc like this will be to the book’s overall benefit. So I hope to see a shake up in plot development in the coming months.
As I’ve noted plenty of times before, Campbell’s art is a perfect match for TMNT, but this issue actually goes a bit above and beyond in that regard. Music is obviously very difficult to properly convey in a visual-only medium like comics, and I think Campbell’s depiction of Jenny shredding her guitar was full of visual metaphor goodness. She takes on a grim, angry expression as rough, sketchy apparitions of her past appear from her guitar strings and eat up the pages. The visual storytelling here is fantastic, and it was the highlight of the issue for me.
I still love the idea of giving Jennika her own multi-issue arc in the actual main book, and am always supportive of stories with some room to breathe, but everything about the metal band plot has started to drag for me. And while this may sound like a great change of pace for some, it’s started to lose a bit of its luster. But even if it’s not entirely to my particular taste, I hope that when this musical plot line is concluded, we can shift focus to something with a bit more for me to chew on.
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