December 23, 2013

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 29

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 29
Story by Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz
Written by Tom Waltz
Illustrated by Ross Campbell and Ronda Parrison
IDW

After the events of Cityfall, the Turtles retreat to a country farm belonging to April's family, hoping to rest and recover, both physically and mentally. Distrust and danger don't know geographical boundaries, however, as Ross Campbell takes a turn with some of his favorite characters.

After the work of Mateus Santolouco, who I really liked for this series, it's a bit jarring to move to Campbell, whose design for the Turtles and overall feel is extremely different. That's not a bad thing, because I love Ross' work, and he shines here, with his rounded characters and very iconic Turtles, who look far less human when he draws them. Their eyes are tiny, but still have a fire in them, able to show emotions, ranging mostly from fear to anger because of our current context.

The page layouts show great blocking skills, too, using characters to frame the action and draw the reader's eyes to the most important actions. In the example I included here, the others are shown on either side of Leonardo, causing us to see the separation between him and the rest. It's also a way to know the characters' personalities. Donnie comforts Splinter while Mikey rests on Raf's shoulder, the latter looking angry even in his cross-armed sleep. On other pages, April takes the lead, with Casey following back, because he's still hurt and in very unfamiliar territory--a loving family. During flashbacks and dream sequences, the narrative figure looms at the edges while the story is shown. It's great work visually, all done in a subtle manner that doesn't call attention to itself.

Campbell's also very much at home switching between fighting and domestic scenes, with my favorite being Donnie using a biker's flashlight on his head to read while his brothers sleep. I also like his take on April, who fits right in with Campbell's stable of realistic looking young women, with normal proportions and just a bit of extra hips.

Pattison is one of my favorite colorists, and she shines here, making Campbell's similar Turtles distinctive by emphasizing their different shades a bit more than usual. She also uses a lovely shade of blue for the Alopex flashback sequence, setting it off from the rest but using the character's own color scheme. It's really strong work, but because she doesn't do "serious" books, it's unlikely she'll ever win the award she deserves.

As far as the plot goes, this one's mostly about fallout and set-up, but features Waltz's strong dialogue and character voices, keeping the tension up as we follow Leonardo on the road to a discovery that may change everything for the Turtles. The introduction of Alopex is well done, and I'll be curious to see how she's used in this context. Between the fraternal struggles and hints that April's father might have ties to everything, this is going to be yet another great arc for one of IDW's best books, month in and month out.