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COMIC REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #64

Under new leadership, the Purple Dragons team up with the Turtles and the Foot Clan to take on the Street Phantoms and rescue Harold. Meanwhile, the rift between the Splinter and his sons grows wider.

COMIC REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #64

(w) Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, (a) Dave Wachter, (c) Ronda Pattison

WARNING: This review contains major spoilers!

Heartbreaking. That’s the word I would use to describe the latest installment of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Since the conclusion of the “Vengeance” arc, there has been rift slowly forming between the four reptilian brothers and their father, a rift which breaks wide open by the issue’s conclusion. But before we get to that, there’s a hell of a buildup which begins with an unlikely team-up of the Purple Dragons with the Foot Clan.

As was revealed in the last issue, Casey Jones has taken over the Purple Dragons at Splinter’s behest. Ironically, Casey’s new role sees him following in his father’s footsteps – a move that would’ve been unthinkable earlier in the series. This is a sentiment the Turtles share, as Casey discovers that they were not privy to this plan. After seeing a reconciliation between the Turtles and Splinter in TMNT #63, this development is an unneeded strain on their bond. However, they manage to put this aside in order to focus on their main goal: rescue Harold (who was kidnapped thanks to events Splinter had set in motion).

Throughout the story by Waltz, Eastman, and Curnow, emotion plays a major role in the readers’ experience. In fact, emotion has played a major role in this series’ success dating back to the first issue. Because of that, there is heavy reliance on the art team to bring that emotion forward. Comics are a visual medium, meaning that having the right artist to bring the story to life is imperative to their success. Thankfully, the script is matched with the right artist, as Dave Wachter delivers another fantastic performance.

There is a lot going on in this issue, with fight scenes, surprise twists, and loads of characters packed between the covers. However, Wachter’s knack for page composition and character renderings not only distill these elements into a readable comic, but heighten the reading experience through various emotional triggers. It is said that eyes are the gateway to the soul, and Wachter draws eyes as good as anyone else in the industry (if not better). On each panel, the reader can instantly identify a given character’s thoughts, emotional state, and what they might do next because of the work Wachter puts into their eyes.

Of course, this issue concludes the “Chasing Phantoms” arc. If you think that the cover gives any indication as to this issue’s outcome, you’d be correct. With the Harold rescued and the Street Phantoms defeated, Splinter has Darius Dun swiftly executed. This is shocking and horrifying – especially to the Turtles. What unfolds is what these entire post-“Vengeance” issues have been leading up to: the Turtles leave Splinter.

What makes this moment work is not only the build up in the previous 13 issues, but how it is handled by each of the parties involved. Michelangelo has been disgusted with their involvement with the Foot since Splinter took control of the clan, and Splinter’s actions here finally push Donnie and Raph to his line of thinking. Splinter himself knows that his sons cannot continue to be by his side, not only because they fundamentally disagree with him, but due to the promise he made to his wife all of those centuries ago to protect them no matter what. That includes allowing them to walk way.

And then there is Leonardo. The Turtle’s field-leader and “teacher’s pet.” He has been put through the ringer throughout the IDW series, but this might arguably be the most challenging moment he’s faced. While the events of “City Fall” and the aftermath were harrowing, Leonardo was a victim of circumstance, whereas here he is acting on his own. With the choice of standing by and remaining silent or choosing to join his brothers, picks the latter. For the second time in this series, the creative team has had Leo turn his back to his father, severing a tie which at this moment feels irreparable.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #64 is a masterful conclusion to the series’ latest story arc. Waltz, Eastman, and Curnow are taking the Turtles – and their supporting cast – into uncharted territory in terms of storytelling. To be frank, it is equally exciting and terrifying. Where the series can go from here is a complete mystery, but if the previous 64 issues serve as any indication, it will be great.

Editor's Rating

9.0
The creative team of Eastman, Waltz, Curnow, Wachter, and Pattison combine action, drama, and heartache with some damn fine art in this latest installment of IDW's TMNT ongoing series.
Cowabunga! 9.0

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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