First, came the expected gem that was the original crossover between the Dark Knight and the Heroes-in-a-Half-Shell. Then, their animated incarnations met in a wild and wacky adventure. Now, that first meetup gets a sequel – with the added challenge of high expectations. Does it deliver? Let’s find out.
Comic Review: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1
(W) James Tynion IV, (A/C) Freddie E. Williams II
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the first crossover between the TMNT and Batman is how good it actually was. Sure, people expected to have a good time with it, but most never expected it to be more than middling in quality. However, writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie E. Williams II rose to the challenge, defied expectations, and delivered a truly memorable event. They proved that an intercompany crossover could provide readers with more than just a passing novelty. But because of the success of the first series, the question now persists: can they recapture the magic? If this first issue is any indication, the answer is a firm “yes.”
One nice element of this miniseries is that it is not bound by the constraints of continuity. In fact, this series appears to pick up not long after the previous one concluded. For example, the Shredder is still alive and the Turtles live in the sewers with Splinter. Tynion and Williams make sure to throw some nods to the TMNT’s past, a nod to “City at War” being perhaps the most obvious one. But at the end of the day, Batman/TMNT II #1 is all about the story and character work. Tynion, a longtime veteran at DC Comics, does a very good job writing Batman, Robin, and the rest of the Gotham City crew. Where he continues to shine and impress is how well he handles the Ninja Turtles and their varying personalities.
The main focus of this issue, and the catalyst for these two properties to once again converge, is Donatello. In a team effort to break up a conflict between Karai and the Shedder’s Elite Foot, Donatello takes a beating. Not only is he physically bested, but he is emotionally broken. While Splinter tries to comfort him later, stating that no man can master everything, Donnie thinks back to the TMNT’s team-up with Batman, and how he appeared to have the smarts to match his physical acumen. This reason for the characters to crossover is one that anyone can identify with. We’ve all felt at some point that we just can’t do something, and thus we look to others for guidance. It’s also a refreshing to see them crossing over intentionally, rather than by some random act. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned, but it wouldn’t be a TMNT story if it did.
The artwork by Freddie E. Williams II is top notch. Obviously, his is a style that is wholly unique and his own, and not everyone is a fan of it. Some character proportions seem off. His coloring and shading make things appear artificial, but that’s what makes it work. It is the perfect blend Gotham grittiness with TMNT wackiness. Throughout the issue, readers can get lost examining the intricate details is pours into every panel.
Batman/TMNT II looks to be every bit as good as the first crossover was, if not better. James Tynion IV and Freddie E. Williams II have seemingly once again captured lightning in a bottle. This is a near-perfect first issue, and things only look to ramp up from here. This is a can’t-miss title.