This is my smallest pull list in a while. I only picked up 4 comics today so instead of bothering with a first impression’s post, I’ll just write a review for all 4. And what better way to end it than to review a penultimate issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? That’s not to say issue 50 will be the last, but it’ll be a double-sized conclusion to a massive story arc that started with issue 1. In this issue, a final confrontation between the Turtles and Shredder begins.
TMNT 49 starts where the last issue left off, with the turtles, Splinter and their allies surrounded by Stockman’s army of killer robots. The fight ends in a surprising way, but one that builds off of story beats made clear in the last issue. What follows is the beginning of a combat ritual designed to finally end the conflict between Splinter and Shredder.
This issue is very focused on the core conflict in the series. The hatred Shredder feels for Splinter is made perfectly clear, to the point where he’s angry at his own granddaughter for rightfully interfering with his plans. While this series has always kept the pace going, in the last year a lot of different plotlines have collided, making a bunch of issues in a row build on several fronts at the same time. This issue feels a lot more focused and it’s better for it. The ritual fight scene is very well choreographed, with the right touch of fighting, dialogue and dramatic build-up. And of course the comic concludes with an intense cliffhanger that could take issue 50 in pretty much any direction.
The art by Cory Smith is also great. The action feels intense and appropriately big, flowing from panel to panel. You can almost feel some of the blows the two sides deal each other. Facial expression are also well drawn. Stockman looks delightfully crazy while he’s controlling his robots. Even though shredder’s entire face is covered and his eyes are white, you can still see his fury and determination. The colouring by Ronda Pattison is also good. Most panels are colourful, while some are tinted either blue or orange, emphasizing the fight’s brutality.
Growing up I enjoyed Ninja Turtles video games, but I was never really a fan. Writers Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman and Bobby Curnow have turned me into a fan over the course of this series. At this point it’s hard to wait for the next issue to arrive. Long story short, this series is amazing. Not every issue is flawless, but even the lesser entries are at least fun. This issue however is just brilliant. If you’re a Ninja Turtles fan who hasn’t tried this series out, whether you usually read comics or not, you’re making a mistake.