Could Raphael’s temperament cause the Turtles to lose a potential ally? And with the TCRI Building under siege, is there any way out?
Comic Review: TMNT Universe #3
(W) Paul Allor, (A) Damian Couceiro, (C) Ronda Pattison
Three issues in, it is evident that TMNT Universe offers Ninja Turtle fans a high-quality alternative to main series by IDW. Moreover, while it does exist within the same continuity, Paul Allor and Damian Couceiro are not beholden to that series’ narrative, allowing for an alternate direction in terms of story and character development. Based on the cliffhanger from Issue #3, it comes as no surprise that Raphael’s emotional state takes center stage.
Though Allor and Couceiro do not have to make their story fit perfectly within the overarching narrative of the main TMNT book, they are perfectly within their rights to make direct references – as is the case with the Turtles’ relationship with Baxter Stockman and April. Early in the issue, there is a passing reference under the guise of one of Stockman’s backhanded quips. More notably, this plays a role in Raphael’s actions – specifically the passion and energy he puts into protecting his family. Allor’s script seamlessly ties it into the first arc of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, while Couceiro’s art provides a necessary emotional punch.
Beyond Raphael’s emotional journey, this issue is filled with a lot of solid character-building moments. Though Stockman is clearly a “bad guy,” his moral flexibility is put into focus as he willingly collaborates with the Turtles – even if it is for self-serving purposes. April has a big moment, volunteering to leave the group in order to help from the outside – even getting shot in the process. The lead up to this is self-aware, but not to the point where it pulls the reader out of the story.
Throughout this arc, the Turtles have been dealing with a scorpion-based mutant. And up to this point, there is not much revealed about her except that she is a skilled fighter. Thankfully, the creative team reveals her name: Zodi. While it isn’t as memorable as the names of the Turtles or the Mutanimals, it’s refreshing for mutant’s moniker to lak a gimmick. Moreover, she provides an outsider’s perspective on the Turtles’ (and by extension, April and Stockman) with a heavy dose of snark. Her knack for needling the other characters with her remarks, backed up with physical capabilities, makes her a welcome addition.
It’s a good thing that the character interactions are as strong as they are, because not a whole lot happens in terms of plot-progression. Over the course of the issue, the Turtles move from inside the building to the roof while Bishop and his men move into position for a large-scale fight. Since IDW appears keen on 4-issue story arcs, it’s safe to assume that Allor and Couceiro used this issue to put the pieces in place for a big finale next month, while simultaneously giving readers an opportunity to understand the characters better. For the most part, the execution is flawless, but there are times when it feels like the story is being dragged out to reach that 4-issue mandate. TMNT Universe #3 is a good, character-focused issue, but it falls short of being great.