COMIC REVIEW: TMNT Universe #11
Time for a side-adventure with a couple of Mutanimals! Man Ray and Sally Pride journey to New Jersey to investigate rumors of a mysterious monster – the legendary Jersey Devil! Or at least that’s what we’re lead to believe…
Comic Review: TMNT Universe #11
(W) Rich Douek, (A) Aaron Conley, (C) Triona Farrell, (Cvr) Freddie Williams II
A series like TMNT Universe affords creators and readers alike to spend some time with characters who would normally be kept out of the spotlight while pushing the overall story forward, and that’s exactly what we get here. To be completely honest, my opinion of Man Ray and Sally Pride was nonexistent before this issue. They are background characters to a group of side-players, and with the focus of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the titular foursome, characters like Man and Sally can slip through the cracks unnoticed. However, TMNT Universe #11 remedies that problem, allowing readers to fully connect with these two. As it turns out, they’re awesome!
Rich Douek has a relatively small portfolio, mostly contributing to IDW’s Gutter Magic. However, that does not make him any less capable of delivering a satisfying, done-in-one issue. The premise is simple enough: Man Ray and Sally Pride take a drive across the river into New Jersey in hopes of recruiting their latest Mutanimal, and things go horribly wrong. This type of story is one that TMNT fans both new and old will recognize, as it has been used frequently over the franchise’s 30+ year history. However, the use of these ancillary and new characters gives it a sheen of freshness.
It turns out the infamous Jersey Devil does not exist. Instead, it’s Dreadmon, a human-turned-mutant from Africa that now lives off the land in the Garden State. And he’s kind of a dick. He talks down to Man and Sally because they aren’t of human origin, rebukes their help, and in the aftermath of the trouble the three go through, decides it’s best to keep “living off the land.” Because of this, it is easy to dismiss this on a base level, but that would mean a failure to recognize the elements Douek and artist Aaron Conley introduce into the IDW-verse, specifically controlled mutations. Furthermore, Douek’s script is full of great dialogue as he nails the chemistry between the two leads, as well as making the antagonists characters the reader can truly root against.
Sally, Man, and Dreadmon go up against a trio of mutant mercenaries, and it’s revealed that they are actually humans that can induce temporary, controlled mutations using special comic book technology. This is a game-changer for the universe, as it opens up the possibility of any human character undergoing mutation, if only for an issue or two. Perhaps more importantly, this issue introduces yet another powerful organization for our heroes to potentially take on.
Conley is joined by colorist Triona Farrell, and together they produce a competently structured and good looking book. Conley’s art is far from perfect. There are occasional inconsistencies, and backgrounds are mostly sparse. However, when the art is not rushed, it is wonderfully detailed, expressive, and lively. Ditto for Farrell’s colors, which do an admirable job filling in for regular TMNT colorist Ronda Pattison.
TMNT Universe #11 is a solid issue to throw into your weekly pull. As a single-issue story, anyone – TMNT fan or not – can pick it up, read it, and find enjoyment in it. However, don’t expect it to knock your socks off. It’s not bad, but not great either.