Against all odds, the latest Bebop & Rocksteady adventure is actually a well-executed, interesting comic adventure.
Comic Review: Bebop & Rocksteady Hit the Road #4
(w) Dustin Weaver (a) Ben Bates (c) Brittany Peer
If you haven’t been reading my earlier reviews for this series – I’ve thought its been a dreadful waste of time, money, and energy. Considering how well IDW has handled the TMNT franchise over the years, I was astounded to see them actually pump out something as shallow and without merit as this series. But with Bebop & Rocksteady Hit the Road #4, the creative team of Dustin Weaver and Ben Bates are able to do something just as shocking: pull together the disparate parts from the first 3 issues to put together a penultimate issue that is pretty damn good.
I don’t think its a surprise that the issue that features little of the titular duo is much better than the previous ones. Opening with and following Agent Ravenwood from start-to-finish, Bates and Weaver’s story is full of tension and emotional beats that have been completely absent from the series to this point. To this point in the story, Ravenwood has had everything she believes about mutants to be proven wrong, yet she is still hopeful because she herself lives with a mutation. Despite the criticism from Bishop and the other EPF members, she wants mutants to be sympathetic creatures for her own sense of well-being. If mutants are nothing but monsters, then she will see herself as nothing but a monster. However, her already shaky outlook becomes completely undone with the revelation that the two humans that caused havoc last issue were actually the unmutated Bebop and Rocksteady. With rap-sheets longer than a CVS receipt, the revelation that these two were despicable, awful people prior to their mutation and not innocent animals causes her to snap. Though she acts calm, Ben Bates’ art does a wonderful job of showcasing the psychological break she has endured.
Speaking of the art, Bates’ art is far better that what we’ve seen in the past. His characters are well rendered and interact well against the lighting and shadows. Though the line-art remains busy, each stroke carries more purpose. As Ravenwood becomes a more broken character, he is able to convey her emotional struggle through both subtle and overt imagery. Of course, this issue isn’t all about Ravenwood, and his depiction of Bebop and Rocksteady has been cleaned up from the rough, amateurish renderings of the previous issues. Not only are they visually pleasing, they are also portrayed as physically imposing and psychologically unhinged. From one look at them, the reader knows they are dangerous. That is what has made them work so well in the IDW comics, and it’s a welcome return to form.
Bebop and Rocksteady Hit the Road #4 is far from a great comic, but it is a pleasantly solid read. The artwork has shown much improvement, with Bates’ pencils and inks rising closer to the standard set by Brittany Peer’s engaging colors. Meanwhile, the script is much more tightly plotted, with a greater character focus that gives readers an emotional anchor. It may not have started off on the right foot, but this miniseries is heading towards a strong finish.