I’ve been critical in the past of the pacing contained within Sophie Cambell’s current arc of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but here she really pulled out all the stops and knocked it out of the park. This month’s entry really put it all out there and delivered on a meaty issue packed full of stuff to sink your teeth into.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #117!
This issue hits the ground running with a gorgeous series of pages depicting Jennika’s newly formed band, the music being represented by a swirl of beautiful artwork depicting the themes their music is meant to convey. Music is not easy to translate to a solely visual medium, but clearly Campbell knew what she was doing in how to make it just right (Jen and the Holograms, ha, nice one).
With the musical subplot finally concluded, our characters reconvene and all the loose ends start tying up. It’s finally time for Lita to return back to the future, and takes the unstable Tokka and Rahzar with her, but not before sharing a heartfelt moment with the entire main mutant cast. It’s a nice little sendoff, featuring a glimpse into a possible future with plenty of references to look out for. We also finally see the return of Oroku Saki, the former Shredder, who’s been watching the Turtles this entire time, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal himself and give them his aid. It’s nice to see he’s still around and skulking about, and hinting toward larger ideas still in play.
And of course, how could I not mention that this issue outwardly confirms Jennika as bisexual, reciprocating the interest had by the mutant pig woman, Sheena. Openly bisexual characters are vastly underrepresented, and it’s really nice to see that Jennika continues to push new boundaries and explore more inclusive ideas of love and romance within the Turtles franchise. A fantastic creative decision that I’m glad got made.
As the self-designated biggest fan of Leonardo, it made me (probably somewhat disproportionately) happy to see him keeping a neighborhood watch at the end. It felt so right and in character for him to be this almost Batman-esque silent guardian of his neighborhood and family. We also get a promise from Raphael to help in taking down the Mutanimal Leader Old Hob, paying off on the subplot of his guilt in unknowingly helping create Mutant Town in the first place.
The characters acknowledge that, while their idea of electing a Mayor for Mutant Town was sound, it simply isn’t that easy to just make it happen. They need to take some direct action first and foremost, really dive into the problems of Mutant Town head first. This is fantastic, and something that’s been a long time coming. I’ve been chomping at the bit to see the Turtles tackle these plot threads directly, and I cannot wait to see how this will develop going forward.
This issue is great, and my favorite of Campbell’s run so far. The confirmation of Jennika as bisexual will surely be a highlight moment for many, and that’s only one brief scene in an issue with plenty more forward momentum to go around. With the usual stellar artwork from Campbell herself, it also offers a closed door on her first, more low-key and small scale arc and the opening back up to the wider Turtles world once more. The slice-of-life format, while fun for a time, had started to wear out its welcome. I can’t say I’m disappointed that we’re getting back into the larger ongoing narrative as a whole once more, and Campbell proved that said narrative is still in very good hands.
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