It’s been a while since I’ve done a full review of a Ninja Turtles comic – more than a year even. For a time it was because I still wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the direction the series has taken since the 50th issue, but I have a better idea now.
Written by Tom Waltz, with Kevin Eastman and Bobby Curnow also credited on story, this issue starts pretty much where the last left off. In issue 67, Slash, now controlled by black ops forces, attacked Hob and the other Mutimals. It started off as an entertaining scene of the group hanging out, but quickly turned dark and intense. TMNT 68 focuses more on their situation than anything else, exploring what the black ops group is in case you haven’t read the TMNT Universe series (which I haven’t). Long story short, this group is committed to war against the mutants, kind of like the Purifiers in the X-Men franchise. There’s a deep conversation between one of their leaders and what I believe is a stingray mutant, proving himself quite intelligent. The follow up action scene shows that even after being kidnapped, Hob’s crew is far from helpless.
As dark as this issue is, it’s balanced out with a number of amusing moments. The comic opens up with a Michelangelo pun that made me laugh out loud, and Donatello’s reaction makes it even better. Even the tension between an injured Hob and the Turtles, while well warranted, provides a few amusing lines. There’s also Pete the Parrot being adorably stupid as usual, and two different cliffhanger endings to keep the anticipation up for the next issue. The first is a dramatic improvement over the Mutimals’ situation and promises some epic action, but the other puts the Ninja Turtles and Hob in a very troubling position.
The art by Mateus Santolouco is great. It’s a mostly clean look, but there are little details thrown around when it counts. The opening page shows the Turtles practicing different forms. Even though they’re moving together quite well, there are tiny differences in their poses and noticeable differences in their muscle density (especially with Raphael). The backgrounds do a great job at setting scenes, like the military grade equipment all over the black ops base, the turtles’ sewer base complete with pipes on the ceiling, heavily dented hand rails and water that really doesn’t look clean. Facial expression perfectly convey emotions, like Michelangelo’s grin after making his pun, and of course Pete’s vacuous, friendly smile. Hob’s various looks in particular show his smugness, annoyance, concern and fatigue all at once. Rhonda Pattison’s colouring is fantastic as always.
For the third issue in this story arc, the pacing in TMNT 68 is still really good. There’s a great mix of action, humour and tension. Even though this issue mostly focuses on the Mutimals, there’s still enough page space on the Ninja Turtles to satisfy fans who might jump in on this issue. It explains everything you need to know in a way that doesn’t impede the story. I’d still recommend you start with issue 66 though, where this story arc began. This is definitely not the first time I’ve said this about a Ninja Turtles comic, but this is my favourite comic of the week. If you’re a Ninja Turtles fan who isn’t reading this series, you should rectify that mistake.