RETRO REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #3 (Volume 2)
What the hell is Baxter Stockman up to? And what’s going on at the Northampton farmhouse? These questions and more are answered in this latest installment of Jim Lawson’s story.
RETRO REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #3 (VOL.2)
(W/A) Jim Lawson, (I) Jason Minor, (C) Eric Vincent
Anyone looking the Mirage incarnation of Baxter Stockman to resemble the popular insectoid quickly has their hopes dashed within the opening pages of TMNT #3. Picking up on the previous issue’s cliffhanger, readers are presented with the aftermath of an apparent self-performed surgery. The brain has been removed from his body, and an unseen force plows through the investigating DARPA agents as if they were tissue paper. This is arguably the best sequence in the entirety of Volume 2. Jim Lawson stages it well and builds tension from panel-to-panel, as each agent is picked off. In many respects, resembles a classic, well-done slasher film. Jason Minor’s inking gives the sequence the appropriate shading to evoke the unseen horrors, while Eric Vincent’s uses the occasional splashes of yellow amidst his darker hues to complete the look of the poorly-lit laboratory.
While the remainder of the issue is a bit of a let-down in comparison to the opening sequence, it is still well-executed and further fleshes out the Turtles’ journey into adulthood. For Donatello, it turns out that living on the farm is not as peaceful as he thought it would be, as he gets an unexpected visit from the local police. This is probably the weakest moment of the issue, if only because it breaks the reader’s understanding of the farm. Upon first glimpse, the idea of a police officer coming by due to concerns by neighbors makes sense, that is until you remember how secluded the Jones’ family farm is. Throughout TMNT Vol.1, the Turtles came and went from the farm for years without incident, and Lawson’s big, sweeping landscape at the end of “City at War” indicated that there were no other residences within miles of the farmhouse. Perhaps this is nitpicking, but if it is a fault so egregious that it pulls the reader out of the story, it should be worth noting.
The rest of the issue is spent focusing on Leo, Mikey, and Raph as they figure out their next stations in life. For Raphael, he finds sanctuary in an old abandoned church at the edge of the city. This is of particular note as the IDW series sees the Ninja Turtles living out a church too, possibly as a tribute to this. But unlike the IDW series, Raphael is alone. The church is an interesting decision as it is a physical representation of his attempts to find an inner peace. But this is not a self-serious moment thanks to the levity injected into the sequence, which happens to reference the crossovers at the time between the Turtles and Image Comics’ Savage Dragon.
Elsewhere, Mikey and Leo are exploring the sewers of New York looking for a new place to live, only for the former to mention that he has no intention of moving out of the apartment. This is a pivotal moment, as it marks the severing of the remaining bond between the brothers. With each of them off in their own place, the storytelling dynamic for the Mirage Turtles becomes instantly different from any other incarnation of these characters. Rather than the joint unit they always are portrayed as, each is free to have their own adventures. It is a remarkable and bold direction.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 is another solid issue in Volume 2. As has been the case in the previous issues, this is a character study that also works to set up the big-bad of the series in “Robo-Stockman.” If you’re looking for a Turtles fix due to the light release schedule from IDW this month, definitely give this a try and experience these heroes in a manner that we will likely never see again.