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Comic Review: TMNT Universe #19

by Dan Gehen

Raph and Alopex are off on a recon mission, until Raph’s emotions lead them charging into battle. Meanwhile, the Rat King does his creepy Rat King things.

Comic Review: TMNT Universe #19

(W) Ian Flynn & Bobby Curnow, (A) Dave Wachter & Pablo Tunica, (C) Ronda Pattison

While the TMNT comics under IDW Publishing have by and large done an excellent job in providing definitive takes on long established characters. In some cases, backgrounds have been retooled, almost always for the better. However, if there is one thing the Turtles’ comic home has not done exceedingly well is provide the franchise with new characters. There have been some standouts, such as Old Hob, but for the most part the creative minds behind this incarnation have focused on providing modern updates to fan-favorites. TMNT Universe #19 bucks that trend. Yes, Raphael is there, but he’s the only long-established character in the main story as this is more a showcase for relative newcomers Alopex and Zodi, and may provide the means for even more original characters.

Writer Ian Flynn is no stranger to dealing with drama and anthropomorphic characters, having been a longtime writer for Archie Comics, including their Sonic the Hedgehog titles. He brings those sensibilities to TMNT Universe, as the dialogue between Raph and Alopex (and eventually, Zodi) is as snappy as it is authentic. Meanwhile, the story itself, which sees Zodi helping a faceless (for now) organization to create a new generation of mutants, seems to recycle past TMNT stories with a new package. However, the details are different just enough to provide a fresh spin. It should be interesting to see how it plays out over future installments.

Those that have read my past reviews know I’m a big fan of Dave Wachter’s artwork. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I overall found the art to be very enjoyable. Each page is fully detailed, giving this world a genuine, “lived in” feel. Panel layouts are clean, and the action is dynamic. However, there are moments when he leans a little too hard into giving Raph more human-like features, making him appear less like the classic design and more like Michael Bay’s abominations. It is at least partially salvaged by the always stellar coloring of Ronda Pattison.

Editor Bobby Curnow takes on full writing duties for the issue’s backup. Joined by artist Pablo Tunica, Curnow’s tale stars the eternally creepy Rat King. It’s a serviceable story, one that should satiate the hunger of the character’s fans. However, these backups are difficult to assess as they come out, so look for a full review down the line once that story is complete.

TMNT Universe #19 is a solid opening chapter. The ideas put forth by Flynn’s script are truly ripe for exploration in detail. However, TMNT Universe story arcs have a tendency to be truncated, leaving the deep-dive explorations for the main title. Hopefully, this is the story arc that finally bucks that trend.

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