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Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #71

“Pantheon Family Reunion” Part 1 of 2. You are cordially invited to the centennial reunion of the Pantheon, the immortal family that influences the course of history. The main talking point? The fate of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #71

(W) Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, & Bobby Curnow, (A) Dave Wachter, (C) Ronda Pattison

Hey IDW! Could you give the Pantheon their own miniseries? Because if there’s any takeaway from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #71, it’s that the immortal beings of this universe are a blast to read when they get together. Full of humor, heart, and a varied cast of characters, this action-less issue may not be perfect, but it is among the best of the series.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this issue is the creative team’s ability to make the reader sympathetic to Kitsune, who to this point has been portrayed as cunning, ruthless, and evil. But surrounded by family, she is scared, insecure, and vulnerable. She lashes out in response to the put downs by Rat King, Toad Baron, and Gothano. As much as Waltz’s script is responsible, credit it largely due to Dave Wachter, who beautifully conveys Kitsune’s varying emotions throughout the issue. In just one image, Wachter showcases Kitsune emotional range. Readers can infer pain, fear, anger, and cunning.

The emotional range that Wachter gives to Kitsune extends to her siblings. Given his temperament, Rat King is easily the most expressive of the Pantheon. While Gothano’s face is obstructed and Aka maintains her composure throughout, Rat King is a mischief maker. And because of this, he usually bears a menacing rictus, but not exclusively. Likewise, Aka does not always maintain her composed state. These slips from their predefined personalities make them more identifiable, and therefore more real.

The script itself features a bit of exposition to catch readers up, especially those who are not reading TMNT Universe in addition to this series. However, the story by Waltz, Eastman, and Curnow is more focused on establishing these family dynamics and setting up the story to come. As a result, Waltz’s script does not linger too much on the past, allowing the issue to move forward at a steady and consistent pace. And as has been the case throughout this series, the strength of the issue comes from the family dynamics, with any action (in this case, there is none) working in service to the story rather than being the major driver.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #71 is yet another fantastic addition to the canon, and this time it manages to do so with barely an appearance from the titular heroes. Their only appearance is in the issue’s cliffhanger, yet the artwork and writing is so strong they are not needed to entice readers to return for the next chapter. And that can’t come soon enough.


Editor's Rating

Cowabunga! 9.5

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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