New York City takes a spooky turn as the Scarecrow unleashes his fear toxin on Team Batman and Team Turtles. Meanwhile, the Joker sets his plans into motion…
Comic Review: Batman/TMNT Adventures #4
(W) Matthew K. Manning, (A) Jon Sommariva, (I) Sean Parsons, (C) Leonardo Ito
After a disappointing third installment, readers (or at the very least, this reviewer) were hopeful that the creative team could bounce back with a fun and satisfying issue. Although there are still notable flaws, Batman/TMNT Adventures #4 is a fun romp that both showcases the strengths of its heroes and unravels the mystery of who is really behind this interdimensional plight.
The issue opens with the “A Team” of Batman, Leonardo, and Raphael incapacitated by the Scarecrow’s fear toxin. This sequence sees Sommariva deliver some of his best work with surreal and surprisingly dark imagery from Batman’s point of view. We continuously check in with these three as the issue progresses, noting that the fear toxin has manifested differently for each. True to the Nickelodeon Turtles cartoon, Raph is tortured by the sight of giant Spy-Roaches. Meanwhile, Leo sees Batman and Raph as decaying corpses – the result of his fear of failure. The time by Manning and the art team spent on this sequence is just enough to be effective without overstaying its welcome.
Manning does a great job infusing the story with humor, especially when contrasting the Batman characters against the Ninja Turtles’ NYC. While the “A Team” deals with Scarecrow, the “B Team” of Mikey, Donatello, Batgirl, April, and Robin are engaged in a battle against Foot-bots bearing a oddly familiar smile. Also entering the fray is Harley Quinn and her mutated pet hyenas. This keeps the action moving at a break-neck pace, but does not disrupt the issue’s overall pacing. More importantly, this sequence serves to move the story into Shredder’s lair, setting up a final showdown between the heroes and the Joker.
Unfortunately, this showdown with the Joker fails to live up to its hype. Once the hyenas are taken care of, it’s just Joker and Harley up against the entire squad of heroes. While Joker’s complete collapse of power had the potential to be entertaining, it simply falls flat. However, this is quickly brushed aside by the return of Shredder, who has snapped out of his laughing gas-induced stupor. In a stroke of genius, it is hearing the name of his longtime nemesis – Splinter – that triggers his return. Often, it has been shown that Batman can overcome the Joker’s toxin through sheer willpower (and a bit of a developed tolerance from frequent exposure), but to see the Shredder’s pure hatred used as an asset is very cool.
Although one problem is finally resolved, a whole new can of worms is opened that brings with it the potential for a strong finish. This issue brought with it some of the most surreal imagery of IDW’s TMNT Adventures, and readers can expect after the final page reveal. Batman/TMNT Adventures #4 is a solid rebound issue for the crossover, delivering great artwork and a zany plot in a family-friendly package.