This issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series by IDW, written by Sophie Campbell with art by Jodi Nishijima, sees the current story in the process of winding back down after things really came to a head last time. We also get some long-awaited discussion on Raphael’s involvement in current events, and the seeds of change being planted in another longtime villain.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #120!
The plot of this issue is simple, mostly just following up what we know from last time: The mutant kids are kidnapped by Man Ray in a play to undermine Old Hob’s leadership, all the while the Turtles fight back the Mutanimal forces. It’s a simple premise to be sure, but we didn’t need any more major plot twists this time, and I’m thankful the book is given ample breathing room to let things play out without any curve balls being thrown.
The real meat here is in the characterization. The betrayal of Ray comes as a bit of a shock (he’s been a big player in the Mutanimal storylines in this canon), but it comes at the behest of a change in Hob’s own character. He’s softened up quite a bit over time, even if his methods are less than morally righteous. This is also reflected in Raphael, who storms in ahead of the others to give Hob a serious beat down as they exchange blame for the creation of Mutant Town in the first place.
I’ve wanted this acknowledgement of Raph’s involvement in this whole ordeal for awhile, so I’m glad it’s being addressed, even it is mostly to have him pass the buck. I would have liked an exploration of Raph’s guilt to be a bit more nuanced than simply throwing the blame back in Hob’s face, as the situation wasn’t as black and white as the issue seemed to make it out to be. That being said, I’m happy to get discussion on it at all after all this time.
Hob himself was really the most interesting character in this issue in my opinion. He’s been developed very slowly over this book’s long history (as its first real original villain, he’s had plenty of time), and the realization of that growth by his most trusted ally is a great source of drama to mine. Seeing the slow methodical shift from stone cold killer, to violent revolutionary, to bio-terrorist, and now to just an older, wiser man who just wants to see and end to all this, has been a really fun journey to observe. I hope we push more in this direction moving forward, I think a fully redeemed Hob would be a real treat in the long term.
The art this issue was also pretty solid all around. I really enjoy Nishijima’s take on the Turtles themselves, they’re well proportioned and stylized without letting that style overtake their core aesthetic, and retain a good amount of expressiveness in facial features and overall body language. Some of the human characters don’t look quite as on point, but given that this is an almost entirely mutant-centric entry, that’s not exactly an issue.
Overall, this issue was fine. As much as I’d like a bit more to chew on in regards to Raphael after having that his character arc so lightly touched on here, I’m willing to wait and see if more is done with him before I pass judgment. Hob himself is fantastically characterized here though, and it’s clear Campbell respects the long journey this character has been on thus far, even if he still needs to face the consequences of his actions. This one didn’t blow me away, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.
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