What happens when one of Donatello’s well-intended experiments goes horribly awry? The Drip happens! Can the half-shelled heroes overcome this liquid looney? Probably, but seeing how is where the fun lies in TMNT Amazing Adventures #14. And in the back-up story, Renet visits Michelangelo. Needless to say, [time-travel] hijinks ensue.
Comic Review: TMNT Amazing Adventures #14
(W) Matthew K. Manning, (A) Chad Thomas and Jon Sommariva, (C) Heather Breckel
Since acquiring the rights to the franchise, Nickelodeon has done a fairly admirable job in producing new TMNT stories. The main ongoing series (and its related titles) from IDW Publishing is one of the best (if not the best) incarnations of the property, and the current animated series combines elements of gravitas and levity to create an experience that can truly be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age. However, there is an inherent flaw in the execution of TMNT: Amazing Adventures, one that is evident in this issue: it only uses one of those two elements found in the animated show, and it isn’t the gravitas.
TMNT: Amazing Adventures #14 is a silly book. Yes, it is fun, but the stakes are so low (or nonexistent) that reading the issue begins to feel like a chore. It’s hard to blame the creative team (Matthew K Manning, Chad Thomas, and Jon Sommariva) for this issue’s shortcomings, but someone has to bear the brunt of my ire, and their names are on the cover.
With only 11 pages to work with, the “main” story by Manning and Thomas reads less like a thrilling conclusion and more like a tired slog to the finish line. With 4 of those pages being completely textless, it’s clear that Manning and Thomas tried to stretch a short story over two issues. And while the setup in TMNT: Amazing Adventures #13 showed promise, the rushed wrap-up leaves readers wanting more. And the things that Manning offers up to readers are head-scratchers. The Turtles refer to the antagonist as The Drip, although they were unware of its actual existence in this issue (or the previous one). The actual manner in which The Drip is defeated doesn’t make much sense in context of the established conflict.
It’s not all negative. Though the story is admittedly thin, it makes for a fine casual read that is easily accessible at any age. Thomas’s art faithfully captures the spirit of the Nickelodeon series, as do the colors by Heather Breckel. The action and character movements are dynamic, possessing a fluidity (no pun intended) that sets it apart from the stiffness other cartoon-based comics. In addition, there Thomas is able to infuse the narrative with some pleasing sight-gags and physical comedy (especially at the end). Breckel is given plenty of real estate here and in the backup story to fill the issue with the vibrant and varied palette this incarnation of the Turtles demands. The results are pure eye-candy.
The backup story by Manning and artist Jon Sommariva is a delightful time-travel adventure which pairs up Michelangelo with the klutzy [Assistant] Time Master [in Training], Renet. Granted, the use of time-travel as a narrative tool is both a blessing and a curse (this story results in a causal loop), but Manning makes it clear from the get-go that its sole purpose here is to elicit pure fun. The main twist is slightly telegraphed, mostly as a result of Mikey’s own relative clumsiness, but it does not take away from a story that brings the issue as a whole to a strong finish.