‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vol. 10 – New Mutant Order’ Comic Review
I have been a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan forever. I’ve enjoyed most of the new iterations we’ve gotten over the years, but I was hesitant about this one in particular because it added in a reincarnation aspect that made the turtles’ story seem too much like a destiny narrative. Forty issues in, though, and they have created a story that can stand toe-to-toe with some of the best versions of this franchise we’ve gotten over the years.
The tenth volume of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, subtitled New Mutant Order, features some big developments for all of the major players.
The story starts off with a meeting between Krang and the Shredder that sours quickly. The rest of the trade paperback deals with the Turtles and a schism within their ranks about how to deal with the dual threat of Krang and his army, The Shredder, and the Foot Clan. Donatello believes they must focus on Krang since he seems to be a threat to the entire world. Leonardo and Master Splinter believe they must focus on the Shredder, since he has sworn to destroy them. With Donatello leaving the group to search for a way to deal with Krang, Splinter and the other three turtles take a meeting with Old Hob, a mutant cat, who is assembling a mutant army. Due to the well-meaning stupidity of one of Old Hob’s subordinates, a fight breaks out during the meeting between the two parties and Bebop and Rocksteady. Meanwhile, Donatello begins negotiations for a deal with the devil.
Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz are responsible for the story of this trade, with Waltz doing the scripting. The team does a great job showing who these characters are. In the meeting between Shredder and Krang, they show us how intent Krang is on conquering the planet and, though Oroku Saki is no angel, they portray him as a charismatic and clever leader. They show us, rather than tell with boring exposition, that the Shredder is a manipulator and an opportunist. He is a leader who values his subordinates and a realist who sees that the presence of a would-be conqueror, like Krang, means war.
The writing also makes the schism between the turtles seem like an organic way to split up the team. Donatello sees the big picture while the rest of the group–save Mikey who voices that Don is right–focuses on Shredder, their immediate threat, and also on Old Hob, to whom they owe a favor.
The handling of Bebop and Rocksteady here is of exceptional note. The team seems to have really found a great way to use the pair as henchmen who are as strong and invincible as they are simple and dim-witted. In a way previous incarnations never really touched on, this characterization helps to explain why they might pose a recurring threat to the turtles yet never actually accomplish anything.
The supporting cast gets some nice moments here. Nobody and Alopex share scenes that show these characters are both heroes and friends in the making. The new family dynamic with April O’Neil and her parents (including her recently healed father) and Casey Jones has some nice character moments. Most notabe is when Casey Jones helps April’s scientist father figure out common household appliances; this scene is a good way to juxtapose these two characters while giving them some time to bond.
Cory Smith draws the first chapter of the book. Smith handles the meeting between Krang and the Shredder well. He creates tension with his panel composition and staging of the characters. Once the action gets started he excels at depicting the fight scenes and gives them a frenetic pace and fluidity that nicely conveys the action to the reader.
Mateus Santolouco illustrates the rest of the story. His real strength seems to be in his illustration of the characters. Every single character has a unique look to him or her. This is quite a feat, considering four of the main characters in this series are essentially palette swaps of each other. Still, Santolouco communicates their personas with aplomb: Raphael looks rough; Leonardo is ready; Michelangelo is lighthearted; Donatello is intelligent.
His characters of size are also a sight to behold. His renditions of Bebop and Rocksteady, as well as Slash, are all pitch-perfect they are. Santolouco also acquits himself of the action scenes nicely as well, showing quick movements, hard hits, and feats of strength with equal excellence.
Things are getting really interesting in the IDW Turtleverse. This volume contains a few of the major turning points I’m sure will be important for upcoming issues. If you’re a fan or collector, this is a must read/buy. If you’re a new reader with only a passing familiarity with the TMNT, I would suggest you start with the first volume of this series. However, you can get still get a lot of enjoyment out of this collection by itself.