Here it is, the grand finale of Mirage Studios’ second series starring the TMNT. Does it go out with a bang, or a whimper? Given the up-and-down nature of Volume 2, it’s anybody’s guess!
RETRO REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #13 (VOLUME 2)
(W/A) Jim Lawson, (CA) Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman
The ending to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Volume 2) is a big, bombastic extravaganza that is perfect for fans of the 1980s cartoons or even the latest big-screen stories. In trying to make a getaway, they run find themselves stuck in the crossfire between invading Triceratons and heavily armed DARPA agents. It’s a pop-art, psychedelic experience that should be experienced by every Turtle fan.
By this point, anyone reading this should have formed their opinion on Jim Lawson’s artwork. While I personally enjoy it, I’m aware others may not be a fan. It’s understandable, as art is subjective. However, Lawson’s artwork has never looked the way it does here, and it has yet to look this way since. It is absolutely bizarre, straddling the line between looking rushed and intentionally abstract. For example, the way Casey is drawn on Page 9 is straight up nightmare fuel.
The rest of this issue is just as crazy, thanks to Lawson’s bold, brash color choices. With big onomatopoeia brandishing panels, this reads like a Silver Age comic with a Modern Age twist. There’s cursing and hyper-violence, including a scene in which Louis carries out a full conversation with a hole the size of a soccer ball in his chest before finally dying. Lawson truly goes unleashed with his artwork, and it makes for some of the most beautiful, interesting, and disturbing image ever associated with the TMNT.
The story itself is another thing altogether. Throughout the series, Lawson has developed a knack for decompressed storytelling. But here, this issue continues to be a Silver Age throwback by compressing a ton of story into one issue. As mentioned before, it’s a crazy, bombastic story, but it’s also cram-packed with dialogue, perhaps more than the previous few issues combined. Unfortunately, all the great stuff Lawson does with the first 24 pages is seemingly undone in the last 5 with one of the most tired clichés in storytelling (though it is alluded to right on the cover). But that is not enough to fully derail one’s enjoyment of an otherwise entertaining story.
They say all good things must come to an end, but in the case of TMNT Volume 2, this is more of a mercy killing. Without the voices of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, and a relative newcomer in Jim Lawson tackling both writing and art duties, this TMNT series never reached the heights (nor the rock-bottom lows) of the original series. Instead, Volume 2 just seems to tread water throughout its initial 12 issues, sometimes doing well, sometimes not so much. But in the end, the series can be described simply as “average.” However, with this final issue, Jim Lawson takes over the additional art duties (inks and colors) in addition to his pencils and script to end this series on a… high note? Maybe that’s too strong of a word. Trending upward? Sure. This series ends trending upward.