With the main TMNT book in the midst of a Triceraton invasion, TMNT Universe builds upon that mythology with two tales starring the advanced dinos. One ties directly into the “Invasion of the Triceratons”, while the other is just too damn cute.
Comic Review: TMNT Universe #16
(W) Chris Mowry and Erika Anderson, (A) Giannis Milonogiannis, Lovern Kindzierski, and Michael Dialynas
Did I say this book ties directly into “Invasion of the Triceratons”? Well, it does insofar as it focuses on the dino-bipeds. However, the main story by Chris Mowry and Giannis Milonogiannis (as well as the backup by Erika Anderson and Michael Dialynas) actually takes place in the past. The big clue is that Krang is alive. That means that TMNT Universe is being afforded the opportunity to be what fans have wanted it to be: a successor to Tales of the TMNT. Unfortunately, that does mean that the cover (and the image used for this review) is a big fat lie!
The fact that this story does not tie directly into the present story in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does not mean it should be skipped. The characters of General Zog and Commander Zom play a major role in “Invasion of the Triceratons,” and Mowry has been tasked with filling in their backstory by taking readers back to the days of the Triceraton rebellion against the Ultoms. Throughout the issue, Mowry enables the reader to empathize with these characters, injecting them with motivations and personalities previously unseen.
If the goal of the issue was to humanize the Triceratons, consider this mission accomplished. Zog and Zom are fully fleshed out, with Zog in particular feeling the weight of his oppressed people on his shoulders, with Zom being the only one that he can rely on. But while Zog feels helpless against the overwhelming might of the Ultoms, Zom is not afraid to take action as she puts into motion the first acts of rebellion. While we already know the outcome – the Triceratons win their freedom – the journey that leads to there should be intriguing with these two as the primary focus.
The art by Giannis Milonogiannis and Lovern Kindzierski is serviceable. It neither elevates nor detracts from the story, allowing the content to be easily consumed. But where the art does stand out is in Milonogiannis’s ability to convey emotion in characters that, at first glance, appear incapable of any. Not just simple emotions, mind you, but complex ones like remorse, defeat, and concern. It is truly impressive.
The backup by Erika Anderson and Michael Dialynas is a cutesy little story that takes place around the same time as the main feature. It’s played mostly for laughs, and Dialynas makes the little Triceratons look absolutely adorable. However, there is a dark undertone based on what is revealed earlier in the book.
TMNT Universe #16 is an intense character study that also provides a fun experience. Mowry and Anderson’s stories successfully build up and flesh out the larger world of the… TMNT Universe. If you’re interested in Triceratons, or just a fan of good character work, then this an issue worth checking out.