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Comic Review: TMNT Universe #25 – The Grand Finale

by Dan Gehen

The final issue of TMNT Universe is here! Can the up-and-down series end on a high note? We’ll find out!

Comic Review: TMNT Universe #25

(w) Ian Flynn (a) Nelson Daniel

For the first twenty-four issues of the series, TMNT Universe has been a crapshoot. Some issues, would be good while others, less so. Sometimes you’d get a story featuring the Turtles. Other times, a story would focus on an ancillary character. But almost every issue would ultimately tie into the main narrative found in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, meaning there was little freedom for creators – particularly of the main story – to really sink their teeth into the potential these characters offer. This final issue, penned by Ian Flynn with art by Nelson Daniel, is a perfect microcosm of the series.

The plot of the issue is simple enough: Leonardo travels to the astral plane (like in TMNT #84) and ultimately does battle with Kitsune. This right here is why this series was both awesome and awful. Leonardo traveling to the astral plane opens the door wide open for storytelling potential. However, by having him tackle the big bad of the Pantheon, the story is automatically handcuffed. Readers know that the battle will come to a stalemate, because nothing of major consequence is allowed to happen in this spin-off title. Surely, IDW will want the big confrontation – with real stakes – to occur within the pages of its flagship TMNT title. As a result, the issue ends without progressing the overarching TMNT narrative in a  substantive manner.

Ian Flynn’s script attempts to flesh out this version of the astral plane, but given the variation that has been shown within the IDW-verse, let alone countless other media adaptations, it is very unlikely to stick. What is admirable is how Flynn uses the fluidity of the concept to craft his story. He gives Leonardo another character to bounce ideas off, and it provides for an easy way to wrap of the main conflict. But beyond that, the story is okay at best. The same could be said for Nelson Daniel’s artwork. On a technical level, there is a lot of stuff to like. He imagines this world as bright and colorful, while his overall aesthetic blends in nicely with the continuity that has been established for the IDW Turtles. But as is the case with Flynn’s script, he isn’t able to fully show off the breadth of his capabilities.

TMNT Universe #25 is a solid, but uninspiring comic. Though not the true grand finale that many may have hoped for, it combines an okay script with decent artwork that might be enough for some to justify the $4.99 price tag. But to eulogize the series as a whole, I cannot say it will be missed. However, it will be remembered as a failure to live up to potential and the legacy of Tales of the TMNT, which is what it should have tried to be.

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