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Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #80

by Dan Gehen

The Turtles are off to save the Triceraton’s leader, Zom, from Splinter’s Foot Clan. Meanwhile, Splinter has an uneasy alliance with Agent Bishop and the EPF. And Zom wants the Triceratons to be the dominant species on Earth. So, the Turtles are… wrong?

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #80

(W) Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow (A) Brahm Revel (C) Ronda Pattison

The TMNT franchise works best when kept at street level. While there is some enjoyment to be had when bizarre sci-fi concepts are introduced, it cannot match the iconography of the Turtles in New York City. Perhaps that is why the past year of TMNT comics have been so average. Between dimension-hopping and space travels, the Turtles have been out of their element. Yes, it is good to push the franchise beyond what is comfortable. But all this time there has been zero emotional weight, and as a result zero tension. “Invasion of the Triceratons” has been a solid story thus far, thanks in part to returning the action to the Turtles’ home turf. However, it too suffers from the same problems as the other recent stories, because for our core cast of characters things will inevitably work out in their favor. That’s exactly the case for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #80.

Despite this doom-and-gloom outlook, this issue is constructed rather competently. The climactic fight between the Foot, the Turtles, and Zom – which takes up the bulk of the issue – is well-paced and does address the differing interpretations of right-and-wrong. Tom Waltz’s script does a great job exploring Splinter’s current mental state, providing a much-needed justification for why he’s been such a dick lately (pardon the lack of candor). Because most view Splinter as a gentle, fatherly figure, it is often forgotten that he was a fierce warrior who took lives without hesitation when the moment called for it. With this in mind, the Turtles act as a surrogate for the reader, as they too seem to have forgotten their father’s bloodied past. And while they have not forgiven Splinter for his actions, they at least understand where he is coming from

For the good that the issue has exploring the Splinter/Turtles dynamic, it completely whiffs in its portrayal of the Triceratons. Throughout “Invasion of the Triceratons,” the titular invaders have been portrayed as ruthless and unrelenting in pursuit of their goal to become the dominant species on the planet. Yet, in this concluding chapter, the are content to take refuge on Burnow Island. It is difficult to reconcile these two plot points, making overall conclusion rushed and ultimately unsatisfying. I’m not a fan of unnecessarily dragging out a story (see our review for Batman/TMNT II #5), but at the same time if a story needs the pages to be properly told, I’m all for it. Arguably the best story of the entire IDW series thus far is the 8-part “City Fall” arc. If an extra issue or two was needed to get the Triceratons from confident and unrelenting to complacent, it should have been given.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #80 brings another solid, but ultimately unsatisfying story arc to a close. Hopefully with the Turtles firmly planted on the ground and their space-based opponents taken care of, the series can finally return the the highs seen in the first 50-60 issues. If not, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles runs the risk of suffering the same fate as many long-running titles: a chore to read. And that is something no one wants.

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