While the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles series does a great job at focusing on the turtles, sometimes it doesn’t give side characters enough time in the spotlight. At times it shifts them over into a mini-series or two, and other times they just have minor roles and developments. That’s why an issue like this is great to have every now and then. TMNT 55 focuses almost entirely on side-characters.
The comic is written by Tom Waltz, with Kevin Eastman and Bobby Curnow also credited for the story. The opening and closing scene in this issue portray Michelangelo returning to their old sewer home, feeling lost with everything that’s going on between the Ninja Turtles and the Foot Clan. That’s not to mention how his buddy, Slash, went out on his own at the end of the last issue for his own self-discovery. The flashbacks to some of his cherished memories adds a lot of emotional depth to the scene.
The rest of the comic switches between different supporting characters. The scene with Angel and Alopex is a fun action scene that touches on the main plot with the thugs in high-tech phasing suits. It also builds on a creepy sub-plot that I won’t spoil, but it’s a sub-plot that could go in so many interesting directions. Their scene isn’t quite what I would call special, but it’s still good to touch on the main plot for a bit. The scene with Casey Jones, April O’Neil and her parents is a lot more dramatic. Let’s just say they get into a pretty big argument. Their issues have been building up for a while, and this scene shows how different their current directions are in life. Casey Jones is damaged in this TMNT Universe, and whether he realizes it or not, he’s starting to become his abusive father. The main question here is will he come back to the light or slip further down into darkness. Either way, there’s a lot of potential for his character progression.
The art by Michael Dialynas is simple but good for the most part. The style is gritty in most scenes which fits the comic’s mood perfectly. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotions, although there are a couple panels where Angel’s face looks a bit off. Not every panel has a complete background, but those that do are well-detailed. The outside scenes are complete with a variety of buildings , while the restaurant has a bunch of bottles behind the main counter and the sewer home has a bunch of destroyed robots and belongings the Turtles never bothered to grab. The colouring by Ronda Pattison is also good. While there is a bit of a washed out appearance, it fits the comic’s mood quite well, and there’s still a lot of variety.
This isn’t what I would call the best issue of the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, but there’s a lot of good stuff in it. The drama between Casey and April feels quite real, and so does Michelangelo’s sadness. The ending promises that the next issue should be fun, and after two dramatic issues in a row, that’s a good thing. But for now, this is definitely worth picking up for TMNT regulars, and this series as a whole is great enough that any Ninja Turtles fans should give it a chance. This isn’t the best starting point though.