Metalhead is back! Donnie rebuilds the robotic turtle, but no one planned for it to have an existential crisis.
Comic Review: TMNT Universe #7
(W) Ryan Ferrier (A) Adam Gorham (C) Ronda Pattison (Back-up W&A) Brahm Revel
Since the conclusion of “Vengeance” the TMNT comics have taken their time in addressing the many issues that have sprouted in that arc’s the fallout. However, one topic that has flown very much under the radar is the future of Metalhead. The robot was destroyed (or at the very least, “aggressively dismantled”) in battle. Keep in mind that in “Vengeance”, Donatello’s consciousness was uploaded into its system why he was in a Rocksteady-induced coma. As this new story by Ryan Ferrier and Adam Gorham explains, merging biology and technology can have some unexpected – and undesired – consequences.
This issue look great. Adam Gorham is probably best known for his work on Valiant’s Dead Drop, and like that series his art is easily the best thing about this book. His designs for the Turtles look awfully similar to those of the original feature film while maintaining certain characteristics unique to the IDW-verse. The Turtles just feel more realistic, as if they’re about to step off of the page. It’s not just the Turtles either. Metalhead feels like a tangible thing rather than a cool comic book conception. And although he is “just a robot,” he has notable swings in emotion which are wonderfully depicted in his physical movements. Furthermore, Gorham’s composition of backgrounds and foreground objects make the world seem more lived in than most TMNT artists.
Of course, the art is only half line-work. Ronda Pattison continues to fill these books her incredible colors. With the regular rotation of artists both TMNT books go through, her ability to adapt to each artist’s style is the unifying factor. With Gorham, her coloring technique is flatter – almost pop-art inpired – yet the palette itself is flat and grimy. The result is an outright beautiful looking book that is worthy of picking up for the art alone.
You may have noticed that I keep using pronouns like “he” rather than “it” when discussing Metalhead, and that is due mostly to the script’s strong writing and characterization. Ryan Ferrier is no stranger to artificial life thanks to his work on the Monkeybrain series D4VE. Bringing his experience with fictional robots to TMNT Universe, he crafts a story that is equal parts hopeful, exploratory, and downright frightening. With Metalhead rebuilt and retaining part of Donatello’s consciousness, the groundwork is laid for exploring what it means to be truly alive as well as the concept of the soul. While those questions are raised, no definite answer is given – no surprise as this is the first in a four-part story.
What is certain is that the rebuilt Metalhead may have retained Donatello’s memories, but not his temperament. He is stubborn, impulsive, and full of rage. Any hope that Metalhead could be a useful member to of the team is quickly brushed aside as he experiences a form of “shell shock” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) while he and Donnie are at the zoo. It’s a thrilling conclusion (and cliffhanger) to arguably this series’ best issue. This is the one that turns TMNT Universe from fun occasional pick-up to essential reading.