The titular Turtles clash with Leatherhead in this solid bottle issue from IDW.
Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #85
(w) Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow (A) Brahm Revel (C) Ronda Pattison
If you follow this site regularly, you’re probably aware of how critical I have been of the latest issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its tie-in series. It’s not because I’ve suddenly developed a distaste for the TMNT. Rather, it’s because I’ve found the stories in recent months to be lacking, with no clear vision. The first 50 issues of the series was a continuous build, leading to a final confrontation that felt inevitable. Since that time, the book, like the Turtles themselves, has been directionless. Leading up to issue #50, everyone knew who the big-bad was – Shredder. Now, is it the Ultoms? Triceratons? Bishop? The Pantheon? A case could be made for either of them, or none of them. Because of the shortcomings of the series’ long-form storytelling, it allows issues such as this – a done-in-one encounter with Leatherhead – to thrive.
Until the creative team understands what they want to do for the series in the long-term, it would behoove them to focus on an issue such as this. It is relatively self-contained, there is no Earth-shattering threat, and the script and artwork are well-executed. The premise here is simple: the Turtles confront Leatherhead in a museum. Already, the reader can expect some decent action as this antagonist is a clear physical threat for the TMNT. However, because of his immense physical presence, Leatherhead’s intellectual prowess is often underrated. However, this proves time and again to be the character’s strongest attribute, and the story is better for it. Before, after, and during their tussle, Leatherhead questions the Turtles’ sense of morality and their grasp on the laws of nature. While these arguments may be familiar, especially to longtime readers of this series (or even Marvel’s X-Men titles), they are nonetheless valid discussions in rather well-executed script.
The script is definitely a strong-point of this issue, as there is a noticeable clash between Brahm Revel’s art and Ronda Pattison’s colors. Revel has an art style that is clearly stylized, and when allowed to use a two or three-toned color scheme it works quite wonderfully. Meanwhile, Pattison’s colors have been the unifying factor for the series and its revolving door of artists. However, the two styles just do not work. Revel’s sketchy style just looks odd (at best) under a traditional superhero color scheme. There are times when the clashing styles is so drastic that it distracts from the wonderful plot that the writing team has crafted. It’s not all bad, as the fight sequences are full of energy. Revel does a great job at portraying motion, and his character work is expressive. With that said, it leaves the reader wanting more in the long run.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #85 is a great story that is held back by okay art. But despite the mismatch between artist and colorist, the script is strong enough to make this one of the series’ better issues in recent months. Hopefully, more of this is to come, because the single-issue focus was able to bring out the best from the writers, something that hasn’t been seen on a consistent basis as of late.