Retro Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6 (Volume 2)
This is it! After 5 issues of setup, Baxter Stockman finally makes his move, and it’s April in the crosshairs! What does he have in store for her, and our titular heroes? One thing’s for certain: nothing good!
RETRO REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #6 (VOLUME 2)
(W/A) Jim Lawson, (I) Eric Talbot, (C) Eric Vincent
If you’re still reading these retrospective reviews of TMNT Volume 2 and asking yourself why it is taking so long for me to review a 13-issue series, it’s to simulate the snail’s pace at which the story has progressed thus far. Even in this current age of decompressed storytelling, current comic books contain more content in their thinly-stretched issues than Volume 2. Despite the great artwork and compelling overarching plot, the scripting makes each issue feel like a non-event. Even when something notable does happen, as is the case here, there is very little buildup or fallout within the issue itself.
Given that she is Baxter Stockman’s target, the issue uses April as its focal point we follow her as she says goodbye to her family and friends before running a few errands. We see her attacked by Stockman, and the fallout as the Turtles [attempt to] give chase. Unfortunately, April herself lacks any agency, instead only existing as a plot device rather than the full-fledged character she was in the original series. Instead, Lawson appears to be taking a cue from the 1980s animated series in making her only a damsel in distress. This type of storytelling may cause no qualms from the young audience of the cartoon, but for older readers of the comics, it is a head-scratching decision – especially with her history as a strong character.
Because of how decompressed the plot is at this point, most of the enjoyment comes from the artwork. Lawson’s writing may leave readers wanting more, but his artwork continues to be top notch. At this point, his style is well established, so if you like or dislike his character renderings there will be nothing to change your outlook. However, his action is more refined. Rather than forcing readers to suspend their disbelief, they are immersed. As readers, Lawson places us on the ground, right in the middle of the action. However, due to the script, this action sequence is extended too long, dulling any sense of excitement.
A bravo is due to the duo of Erics, as Talbot (inks) and Vincent (colors) help make Lawson’s art pop. Talbot’s thick lines provides definition and depth to Lawson’s pencils. The flat coloring by Vincent works exceptionally well with the linework, walking the line between cartoonish and realistic. For a contrast, look at the recolored version that can be found in IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Classics Vol.8-10. The modern coloring techniques employed there make the images – especially the characters – look plasticky and unnatural.
As hollow a criticism as it sounds, TMNT #6 is an exercise in style over substance. While the issue itself looks good, there is very little meat for readers to sink their teeth into. It’s only when Peter Laird returned to the book in Volume 4 that this issue garners any major significance, but that is a discussion for a later day. I’d say this issue may not be worth your time, but with little story content it makes for a quick read.