Wow, this will surely be one for the history books. Today, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50 released, an oversized, stiff-covered issue, that fully encapsulates everything great about being a TMNT fan. Keep reading for a full summary and review:
Writer’s Note: Spoilers Ahead
Issue #50 concludes the major 5-issue arc that transpired after Donatello’s beat down by Bebop and Rocksteady, breaking his shell and forcing his body into a coma and mind into Metalhead. Despite many rumors online, #50 is not the conclusion to the IDW ongoing series, but the issue did tie up many of the series’ loose ends. Not only was this the conclusion to the arc, but it was also the conclusion to artist Mateus Santolouco’s masterpiece cover collage, which was featured in our Top 5 IDW TMNT Covers article earlier this week. This issue had 18 covers in total, featuring artwork by Mateus Santolouco, Kevin Eastman, Jack Kirby, Gabriel Rodriguez, Kenneth Rocafort, Simon Bisley, and many more.
Cover A is particularly special because it showcases the showdown between Splinter and Shredder, which is what the buildup for this issue has been all about. Splinter and the four Turtles (Donatello’s consciousness is still inside Metalhead) start the issue in a massive battle against Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Koya, Bludgeon, and the rest of the Foot Clan. The action is positively brilliant, bringing readers to the edge of their seat with every panel. The Turtles split up, with Raphael and Michelangelo facing off against Bebop and Rocksteady, Leonardo facing Koya, and Donatello/Metalhead against Bludgeon. During the battle, Alopex, Angel, Karai, and Kitsune are present, but are off to the side not participating in the battle. Most importantly, Splinter is in a Zen state (featuring some of my favorite artistic panels) trying to reach back to his feudal Japan life to remember a younger life with Oroku Saki (i.e., Shredder). We see really interesting snippets of their lives, providing a deeper understanding of the relationship between Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi.
The Turtles hold their own throughout the massive confrontation. During the battle, there is an interesting scene where Kitsune communicates with Alopex via telepathy/mind control. It does not appear to be significant at this point, but could be another clue for a future plot. Perhaps the most interesting aspect for me was a scene where Leonardo goes absolutely berserk on Koya, ripping and slicing her feathers, as she begs for him to stop. Bludgeon comes to her rescue and they snap a comment about how relentless Leonardo was on her. This was a very human moment for the two villains and a dark moment for the Leader of the Turtles.
Donatello starts receiving word from the lab back at base. We are unsure what is happening, but Harold, Fugitoid, and a partially visible Leatherhead are up to something. Donatello signals to the Turtles to stand back, and he rushes in towards the enemies. BOOM. Metalhead initiates a self-destruct sequence, ending the battle with the goons and blowing Metalhead to pieces. The rest of the Turtles stunningly look on after seeing the remains of their beloved brother go up in flames. As goose bumps began to rise on the arms of readers, the full flesh and shell Donatello arises from the smoke, restored to his normal body. A truly happy moment for the Turtles and fans.
The fight takes to the rooftop where Shredder and Splinter have a final duel after an unsuccessful takedown by the Turtles. The fight between the two is fast-paced and technical, as Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi are very evenly matched. Throughout the fight, we see more flashbacks of the two from feudal Japan. Splinter has died in previous adaptations of the Turtles, so fans believed it was looking grim for the Ninja Master. On one knee, Splinter says a line of “I have never feared you!” and darts across the rooftop, slicing Shredder’s stomach. Shredder drops to the ground as Splinter asks him if he would like to die a warrior’s death. Shredder removes his helmet and agrees, as Splinter slices his head off.
After the battle, Karai informs Splinter she will be traveling back to Japan, and leaves the Foot Clan in the hands of Splinter. Splinter announces he will be keeping a close eye on Kitsune. This is the only part of the issue that really has me questioning. Is Shredder really dead or is this some type of trick by Kitsune? From the Casey & April miniseries, we know there is still much to learn about Kitsune and the rest of her family. Michelangelo leaves the scene, upset at the Turtles’ new association with the Foot Clan. In a final scene, we go back to the day Saki murdered Yoshi and his sons. It appears that General Krang was nearby during the incident and retrieved DNA samples of the victims, which lends insight to why the family was reincarnated as Turtles. Could this also be a clue at a possible return of Shredder in the future?
In all honesty, this was a wonderful issue. This is probably the best $7.99 you will spend on a comic in a long time, as the issue was filled with a variety of feelings, action, and compelling story. Reaching issue #50 is an impressive feat, so we here at TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles.com would like to send a very big congratulations to Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Mateus Santolouco, and the many other contributors along the way. Thank you for the incredible journey, and we look forward to what is in store for the future.