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COMIC REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Issue #61

After their battle with Kitsune, the Turtles and their allies regroup for a relaxing, family gathering. Or at least that’s what Michelangelo has been lead to believe…

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61

(W) Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, & Tom Waltz, (A) Dave Wachter, (C) Ronda Pattison, (L) Shawn Lee

Writer’s Note: This Review Contains Minor Spoilers

The Turtles have managed to ward off Kitsune’s planned coup to regain control of the Foot, and thwarted her attempts to resurrect the Shredder. With the last six issues stuffed with action, issue #61 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gives readers a bit of a breather with a dialogue-heavy installment which sets the stage for the future of the series. Needless to say, not everyone is happy with the direction of this quirky family, particularly Michelangelo. Since the Shredder’s demise back in Issue #50, the Turtles’ resident “party dude” has kept his distance, conflicted about their current roles as leaders of the Foot.

The aforementioned family gathering may be the issue’s centerpiece, but it accompanied by a few one-on-one interactions between characters. Donatello and Angel open the issue with an attempted ambush of the Phantoms, which also served the purpose of  a field test for some new tech. Elsewhere, Leonardo and Jennika engage in an intense training session. Both of these serve to showcase the defining traits of these two – Donnie’s technological savvy and Leonardo’s leadership. In addition, Waltz, Duncan, and Eastman use these moments provide readers with insight on the team’s emotional status in the wake of recent events.

The greatest beneficiary to these sequences is indeed Jennika, who continues to feel guilt in allowing Kitsune to almost succeed. She has also burdened herself with Alopex’s decision to go into seclusion. Throughout this sequence, Dave Wachter is fantastic in portraying her as emotionally broken and guilt-ridden. Even more impressive is the faint glimmer of hope he gives her as a result Leonardo’s comforting words. It’s a testament to the strength of the creative team in how quickly she has developed as a critical and interesting part of the extended cast.

Of course, the family gathering that I’ve alluded to is the big centerpiece of this issue. Though it is important in laying out the foundation for the next few issues (battle with the Phantoms, the search for Alopex, Casey’s new role), the real meat comes as it draws to a close. Here, Michelangelo voices his continued concern for the direction Splinter is taking the Turtles [and their allies]. Once again, the writers’ skill shines in both the setup and the payoff.

As Mikey calls out Splinter for focusing on strategy, logistics, and assets rather than honor and family, it comes as a shock. Yet in revisiting the preceding pages, it is a completely valid criticism. Splinter, as leader of the Foot, has lost his way and is instead taking on colder, more callous characteristics. As difficult as it is to say (or in my case, type), Splinter’s personality – and by extension the team’s – is beginning to become more in line with that of Oroku Saki. No one seems to see this except for Mikey. Despite Leo’s attempt to reason with him, it falls on deaf ears. Maybe that for the best, as this could serve as the wake-up call the rest of the team needs. Even though they teamed up to take on Leatherhead and Kitsune, the Ninja Turtles are a broken unit.

Editor's Rating

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #61 is a solid breather issue as it sets the stage for future conflicts, reminding readers that despite recent developments, the Turtles remain a broken unit.

The Author

Dan Gehen

Dan Gehen

Dan Gehen is a lot of things, but one thing he's been for his entire life is a TMNT fan (this has been verified by watching embarrassing home videos of his formative years). Though the classic 1980s cartoon caused his 3-year-old version to drive his parents insane via the constant repetition of "cowabunga dude", his true appreciation for the heroes in a half-shell came from the 1990 feature film as well as the comics by Mirage Studios. Today, he continues to enjoy comics from a variety of publishers, including the current TMNT series from IDW Publishing.

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