Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #123
Story by Sophie Campbell
Art by Jodi Nishijima and Ronda Pattinson (colors)
Published by IDW
Released December 1st, 2021
Leonardo stumbles across an underground fight ring in Mutant Town that caters to both humans and mutants. When Casey Jones convinces Leo to join in, he’s startled to find that one of his opponents is someone of grave importance to him!
FIRST RULE OF MUTANT FIGHT CLUB: DON’T WRITE ABOUT MUTANT FIGHT CLUB…
Okay, I don’t mean that literally. I just wanted a snazzy lead in. After the drag TMNT’s mainline story has been lately, Campbell and company bust out an interesting chapter with #123. There’s some good setup and a decent ending here, yet there’s still an aurora of misdirection. We’re 23 issues into Campbell spearheading her own story. And the TMNT universe has felt like it’s been idling for quite some time now. I’ve perked up with some interesting direction and villains, but overall the title has been on a steady decline in terms of story.
– Nishijima’s crisp and solid linework (this will be her last issue for a bit) and Pattinson’s vibrant alluring colors make this issue a treat for the eyes. As it has been for quite some time now.
-Leo being the focus is nice. The turtle’s brave leader seems lost when it comes to social constructs. Exploring that is an interesting direction.
-Casey Jones is back. Introduces Leo to a “fight club”. The dialogue between him and Leo is a bit awkward. But Casey is always welcome in a TMNT comic. Just wish he had more to do.
– The weasels are a pain in the shell. They’re a strong link to the enemy (Hob) and should get the boot. They’re just trouble and beginning to annoy me.
– Old Hob is a good character, but we need more threats. The Rat King announced his plan 5 months ago! Where the heck is he?
– I’m over “downtime” of the Turtles cuddling, hanging out, and doing hobbies. It’s nice to get a look into these things, but Campbell’s “slice of life” direction has rendered the title from “Ninja Action” to “Teen Animal Drama”. Know your audience.
Notes: TMNT #123 livens things up a bit with a focus on Leonardo and the introduction of an “underground” mutant fight club. While it’s well written and opens the story for an interesting direction, Campbell’s two year run has been a letdown. A lot of solid buildup has gone nowhere (Tokka, Rahzar, and Jennika’s song that saves the future) so it’s tough for me to blindly be all in without feeling a little bit cynical. And to make me feel that way Ninja Turtles is an impressive feat. So, again, decent issue…but it always matter where it takes us.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #123 is now available wherever comics are sold!