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Comic Review: TMNT Universe #18

by Dan Gehen

With the Triceratons invading New York, everyone has run for cover – including the Ninja Turtles! Trapped with the huddled masses, the Turtles must escape by getting past their biggest challenge yet: children!

Comic Review: TMNT Universe #18

(W) Paul Allor & Caleb Goellner, (A) Tyler Boss & Michael Dialynas, (C) Ronda Pattison

After a great 6 years, the last few months have not been kind to IDW’s TMNT books. What was once fresh and exciting storytelling became stale. Reading TMNT had become a chore, thanks to the disappointments of Dimension X, “The Trial of Krang,” and even the current “Invasion of the Triceratons” story arc. However, TMNT Universe #18 sees the makings of a return to form, with Paul Allor, Tyler Boss, and Ronda Pattison delivering an engaging, tightly constructed, and fun issue.

Allor’s story takes place concurrent with “Invasion of the Triceratons,” with the TMNT taking refuge in one of the city’s buildings. However, they’ve unknowingly trapped themselves into a place with extremely limited exits. There’s no roof access. There’s no sewer access. It’s the Turtles, a bunch of clueless New Yorkers, and two kids determined to find them. It’s a simple premise, and is unlikely to have any significant impact on the greater TMNT lore, but it is executed so well. The stakes are relatively low, but the tension is high because it is reasonable that the Turtles might be discovered.

Much of this issue’s success lies in the physical comedy provided by artists Tyler Boss and Ronda Pattison. Both excel at their craft, and deliver their best efforts. We’ve been singing Pattison’s praises for a while here, and this issue once again proves her worth. A bright and varied palette captures the childhood fun of this narrative without sacrificing the story’s stakes. By the end of this era, Pattison may be looked at as the contributor that more than anyone else defined the look of the TMNT.

It is easy to make a funny comic when the source of the humor is the writing, but it is far more challenging when the humor must be conveyed through the artist. Tyler Boss’s artwork may not be as visually dynamic or detailed as other artists such as Mateus Santolouco or Corey Smith, but he may be the best pure storyteller on a TMNT book to date. The panel structure and artwork combine to produce effective comedic effects wherever the script calls for them. Many of the same demands that comedy calls for can also be found in creating suspense. Boss is therefore able to easily transition from providing readers laughs to making them bite their fingers, even if the stakes are relatively low in comparison.

There is a short, sweet backup story by Caleb Goellner and Michael Dialynas, starring the Mutanimals. With one of their compatriots recovering from injuries, the creative duo showcases in just a couple pages how united a family this bunch of misfits truly is. TMNT Universe might not be a canon-expanding, earth-shattering issue. However, it stands among the most accessible and well-constructed of the entire IDW era.

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