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Comic Review: TMNT UNIVERSE #21

What happened on Burnow Island following the “Invasion of the Triceratons” arc? Well, when two age-old enemies are forced to live together, answer is anything but “they lived happily ever after…”

Comic Review: TMNT UNIVERSE #21

(W) Paul Allor (A) Mark Torres (C) Ronda Pattison (Backup) Caleb Goellner, Pablo Tunica, Patricio Delpeche.

There’s a line early in TMNT Universe #21 that really sticks out. In it, the narrators refers to the Triceraton Invasion (TMNT #76-80) as a “failed attempt to live among humans.” Anyone who read the arc knows that the Triceratons, as written then, wanted to replace humans as the dominant race on Earth, and had little desire to share the planet. Anyone that read that arc also knows it wasn’t among the series’ best. However, this line indicates the type of story that Paul Allor and Mark Torres are looking to craft in dealing with the aftermath, and it starts off strong.

Regardless of the medium, the Triceratons and Ultoms hate each other’s guts. That alone is what makes this issue so entertaining. Of course, the Triceratons’ arrival on Burnow Island is immediately met with a hostile reaction from the Ultoms, but a ceasefire is quickly called thanks in large part to Commander Zom. With their history of always fighting and continuously being oppressed, Zom thinks diplomacy might lead to a more favorable result. And, in a way, she’s right. Of course, things don’t go smoothly, and there are dissenters on both sides.

In many respects, the natural conflict between the Triceratons and Ultoms makes for a more serious version of a sitcom setup – like The Odd Couple but with monsters. There are several instances of dark humor – specifically when both sides are trying to solve the crop-growing problem. But there are also real stakes at play, and deep-rooted resentment, that readers can draw parallels to in the world around them.

The artwork from Mark Torres is great. While it is admittedly stylized, and that may turn off certain readers, it does an excellent job in portraying the intensity of emotions from both the Ultoms and Triceratons, as well as the frustration of their mediator – Donatello. And in the few instances where the book does have an action sequence, Torres’ art captures its raw energy and pure brutality.

There is a backup feature by Caleb Goellner and Pablo Tunica, starring everyone’s favorite pizza delivery guy. Following Woody during the events of the Triceraton Invasion, readers are treated to a light-hearted romp that, in the grand scheme of things, shouldn’t have any impact on the larger TMNT canon. But if you enjoy perilous pizza delivery sequences, this should be a welcome tale.

As a whole, TMNT Universe #21 is a great opening chapter to a story that explores two completely clashing and antagonistic societies trying to occupy the same space. Paul Allor’s script is smartly written and engaging, complemented by the dynamic and well-paced artwork from Mark Torres is a great. Unfortunately, it is likely to slip under the radar because it follows such a dud of a story arc. If only “Invasion of the Triceratons” had been able to match this quality, there might be more fanfare going into it. But as it stands, TMNT Universe is currently THE Turtles book worth picking up.

Editor's Rating

Sweet Christmas 8.5

The Author

Dan Gehen

Dan Gehen

Dan Gehen is a lot of things, but one thing he's been for his entire life is a TMNT fan (this has been verified by watching embarrassing home videos of his formative years). Though the classic 1980s cartoon caused his 3-year-old version to drive his parents insane via the constant repetition of "cowabunga dude", his true appreciation for the heroes in a half-shell came from the 1990 feature film as well as the comics by Mirage Studios. Today, he continues to enjoy comics from a variety of publishers, including the current TMNT series from IDW Publishing.

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