Comic Review: TMNT Universe #23 – MONDO RAMPAGE
Mondo Gecko goes full berserk (yes, you read that right) in an effort to save a loved one. Meanwhile, Zodi takes on a nobody.
Comic Review: TMNT Universe #23
(W) Ryan Ferrier & Rich Douek (A) Pablo Tunica & Brahm Revel (C) Patricio Delpeche
You know who we haven’t heard much from recently? The Mighty Mutanimals. Sure, Slash has shown up on occasion as brainwashed zombie pawn of Agent Bishop and the EPF, but the rest of the gang has been notably absent. That changes with the release of TMNT Universe #23. The story by Ryan Ferrier and Pablo Tunica sees the most unlikely of Mutanimals go on a one-mutant rampage to save the life of his friend, no matter the cost.
Mondo Gecko is one of the most popular side-characters in the pantheon of TMNT characters. While his popularity made sense in the early and mid-1990s due to his embodiment of the skateboarder personality, today he comes across as relic of an era long since passed. In many respects, it seems that the fine folks at IDW feel the same way, which is why Mondo often plays the role of comedic relief or unwitting background character. But Ryan Ferrier does something unexpected with him in this issue – he makes the character actually interesting.
What triggers this is the fallout of the Mutanimals’ past adventures, with Seymour slowly rotting away. Seeing his friend suffer as Seymour is utterly destroys Mondo Gecko’s worldview. No longer is everything gnarly, but instead he sees the cruelty and hardships that life has dealt not only to him, but those he holds closest. As a result, he becomes unhinged. Even after bringing Michelangelo into the fold for help, he continues his mission with reckless abandon. This is a welcome development, making Mondo and his Mutanimal friends way more interesting than their current role as benchwarmers.
Pablo Tunica has developed a style all of his own, and his expressive character work is on full display here. Readers can sense the anguish Mondo is grappling with throughout the issue, as well as the empathy on display from Michelangelo, Hob, and the others. Unfortunately, this issue also features perhaps his sloppiest linework to date. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never been a biggest fan of Tunica’s work, and for the most part this issue exemplifies why. Images – be it character, objects, or backgrounds – are just unpleasant to look at. As well written as the story is, the artwork is a major detractor that takes away from the issue’s overall enjoyment.
The back-up feature from Rich Douek and artist Brahm Revel is a refreshing palette cleanser. It’s a tightly plotted short story with great artwork. The tale sees Nobody thwarting an attempted robbery by mutated scorpion Zodi. That’s really all that happens, but Douek’s writing has the two trading effective and entertaining quips until one of them is subdued. Ditto for Revel’s artwork, which uses minimal colors and an emphasis on motion to make their battle kinetic and thrilling.
TMNT Universe #23, taken as a whole, is a solid issue. The story itself is an attention grabber, but held back by the subpar artwork. Chances are, this will continue into the next issue. However, the issue saw a strong close thanks to a great little back-up story. In all, this was a microcosm of the comics industry: some good, some bad, and a small amount of really good.