Mondo Gecko and Michelangelo do their best to stealthily infiltrate the EPF. But you’re dealing with the TMNT Universe’s most silence-challenged characters, things are bound to go wrong.
Comic Review: TMNT Universe #23
(W) Ryan Ferrier & Rich Douek (A) Pablo Tunica & Brahm Revel (C) Patricio Delpeche
I know I’ve made this point several times, but TMNT Universe really needs to be an anthology series where creators can any type of story they wish without needing it to tie into an established canon. There is no better reason for this than in this issue and story arc, if you feel inclined to include last month’s issue #23. Ryan Ferrier and Pablo Tunica have been given the task of giving Mondo Gecko true character development, a practice that works in theory but not so much in execution.
Mondo Gecko works as a character because he is a completely carefree skater-dude. Originally, he was popular because he embodied cool trends of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now, he is enjoyable for becoming a pastiche of a bygone era. Also due to his role as comic relief, he works in small, supporting doses. Much like those yellow bastard Minions, placing Mondo Gecko front and center can produce a story that is middling at best. That’s why this assignment for Ferrier and Tunica was unenviable.
In their journey to develop Mondo’s character, the creative team leans heavily into established tropes from the TMNT franchise and greater fiction. Mondo wants to save Seymour because he doesn’t want to live in a world without him. He also states that being a mutant isn’t great. Both things are out of character, as for decades Mondo has loved who he is and accepted how the world works – good and bad. Instead of being this unique beacon of unbridled joy, the character is now imbued by the same pathos as the other mutants.
There is a backup story by Rich Douek and Buster Moody about Pigeon Pete dreaming of being a pirate. It’s surprisingly mediocre. Pete is the worst, so anything better than “ugh” is a win, and the creative team manages to pull it off. Still, I’d recommend skipping this unless you really enjoy awful characters written marginally okay.
As I’ve stated, I really can’t blame Ferrier or Tunica for the lackluster story. Ferrier does his best to keep the story moving forward with exciting action and the occasional humorous note, while Tunica’s artwork is lively and expressive. However, it cannot save a story concept that screams editorial influence. At $4.99 a pop, TMNT Universe is becoming the book that can easily be dropped.