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COMIC REVIEW: TMNT Universe #2

(W) Paul Allor, Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, (A) Damian Couceiro, Bill Sienkiewicz, (C) Rhonda Pattison, Tomi Varga

In the latest issue of TMNT Universe, Agent Bishop’s siege on the TCRI Building have force the Heroes-in-a-Half-Shell in an unlikely alliance. Will it pay off?

COMIC REVIEW: TMNT UNIVERSE #2

TMNT Universe #2 builds upon the first issue’s solid foundation to become a welcome and enjoyable detour from the Foot-focused narrative of IDW’s mainline TMNT comic. Though technically in canon with the main series, writer Paul Allor appears to be given carte blanche to write without the constraints of continuity. As a result, the storytelling is strong and tightly paced, while artist Damian Couceiro infuses each page with a raw energy that recalls the Turtles’ small-press roots.

Upon reflection, what is most striking about TMNT Universe #2 is how Allor and Couceiro give each character a stand out moment without sacrificing the narrative’s brisk pace. This first story arc is primarily action-based, and so the breakneck speed in which the pages are flipped is appropriate. However, Allor’s script allows readers to understand Agent Bishop better, or unearth Stockman’s motivations, or even enjoy the Turtles’ different personalities.

Baxter Stockman is the standout character of this issue. Even Bishop’s best moments occur when he’s talking about Stockman. Allor clearly understands the character, who is as sleazy as ever. Initially looking to work with those who have besieged his building, he is rejected because, as Bishop so eloquently puts it, “he’s Baxter Stockman!” He is then forced into an uneasy alliance with April and the Turtles. More than anything it speaks to his willingness to partner with anyone as long as its to his benefit. Unfortunately, most of the human characters lack the presence of Stockman, and as a result their presence is largely forgettable.

With Donatello incapacitated and Leonardo sticking to his “Captain Serious” shtick, it’s up to Raphael and Michelangelo to infuse this issue with personality. Michelangelo’s moments with the mysterious scorpion-based mutant are hilarious, specifically when discussing the differences between amphibians and reptiles. However, as is the case most of the time, most of the issue’s tension hinges on Raphael’s actions – including the cliffhanger. Raph has always been the angsty renegade of the group, but Allor may be pushing him a little too far if the closing moments are anything to go by.

Damian Couceiro’s art is great. It does not possess the heightened realism of a Dave Wachter or Mateus Santolouco, but rather an angular, stylized aesthetic that recalls Dan Duncan’s work on the TMNT ongoing series’ first arcs or, for older readers, the work of Jim Lawson. Each panel oozes energy, with action being dynamic and frantic. Colorist Rhonda Pattison’s work takes Couceiro’s linework and makes it pop off the page. Even if you aren’t a fan of the story, the art is gorgeous from start to finish.

The backup story written by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz, with Bill Sienkiewicz providing art over Eastman’s layouts, continues Leonardo’s solo journey. While the artwork continues to impress, there is just not enough development from a story or character perspective to hold the reader’s interest. However, the main story is so strong, that a mediocre backup is not detrimental in the long run.

While IDW’s Hasbro titles are embroiled in the underwhelming Revolution crossover, their Ninja Turtles comics continue be a diamond in the rough.  TMNT Universe #2 is a fun, captivating adventure. From cover to cover, this is a beautiful book that features everything you could look for in a TMNT comic.

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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