The penultimate issue of the TMNT’s second series has finally arrived, and it is a doozy. The creative team manage to pack this issue to the brim with action, tragedy, plot twists, and continued running gags.
RETRO REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #12 (VOLUME 2)
(W/A) Jim Lawson, (I) Eric Talbot, (C) Eric Vincent, (CA) Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #12 is one of the most consistent and strongest issues in the entirety of Volume 2. Despite a slow opening sequence designed to set up the final battle, Jim Lawson and “the Erics” pull out all the stops to deliver readers a complete and satisfying TMNT experience. Nearly every emotional beat that fans expect from a Turtles comic can be found here. There is humor, heartbreak, and a whole lot of action.
Before digging into the good stuff, there are a couple flaws that ought to be highlighted. Like most of Volume 2, TMNT #12 does suffer from pacing issues. While he has shown improvement over the course of this series – and will go onto do great things in the Tales of the TMNT series – Jim Lawson’s writing still requires some polishing. Lawson tries to compensate for this through visual storytelling, but often his use of big panels prevent character movements from being successfully conveyed.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can talk about what worked. The Turtles finally reunite with Raphael (for real this time) in a moment that is emotional and – more importantly – earned. There has been significant time between Raphael’s disappearance and now, giving this reunion a true impact. But while the Turtles regain one member of their team, another meets his end. And while this character did not play a significant role in the series, the loss of a character who dates back to Volume 1 is noteworthy nonetheless.
This issue also features a healthy mix of humor and intrigue. Casey still thinks he’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, continuing the gimmick from the previous issue. However, he takes on a less pronounced role here. As a result, his occasional quips provide welcome tension breaks instead of overstaying their welcome. Meanwhile, the Triceraton that has jointed their party has shown himself to be as helpful as he is deceptive. In all, Lawson has put the pieces in position for TMNT #13 to be an explosive final chapter.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #12 is a strong issue. Despite the series’ ups and downs, Lawson has woven a compelling, overarching narrative that is reaching its apex. With one issue to go, all signs point to this series ending on a high note. After all, this issue was good.