Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe Volume 2: The New Strangeness collects together issues #6 – #10 of the ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe comic published by IDW, featuring four exciting stories.
The book’s first story, ‘The Rot In The Shell’, written by Nick Pitarra and John Lees, focuses on Michelangelo as he discovers a new foe, Wyrm. Though he has never appeared in the IDW comics before, Wyrm appears to be a recreation of the original character based upon the 1991 action figure.
A mass of mutant worms that come together to form a horrific monster, filled with junk tossed into the sewers, Wyrm is a visually striking character, one that can shift its limbs into deadly weapons, and can incorporate objects into body parts, such as his saw teeth, and rubber duck eye.
The Wyrm story is a strange affair, and whilst it does put Michelangelo to the test as a lone hero it feels like he’s the best of the turtles to go up against the monster. Wyrm is insane and wacky in a way that Michelangelo could never be, and it forces him to be the straight man of the pairing, something that’s nice to see the character do for once.
The second story, ‘What Is Ninja’, written by Brahm Revel, looks at both the turtles and the Foot Clan whilst exploring the history and nature of the ninja way. Whilst interesting, this single issue feels like it’s lacking in a way that the others don’t, chiefly because the narrative doesn’t follow any one character, and doesn’t focus on any one particular set of events. Because of this, this chapter feels somewhat weak when weighed up against the others, all of which have some emotional stake within their stories.
The third story, ‘Metalhead 2.0’ by Ryan Ferrier, is easily the best in the book, and takes up two issues. Following on from previous events within the IDW series where Donatello was injured and inhabited the robotic turtle Metalhead, when fixing the machine Donatello discovers that a copy of his conscious still resides inside the memory banks.
What follows is an engaging and emotional story that looks at the emotional distress that Donatello went through when he almost died, and looks to address what it means to be a real living person (turtle).
As this is a comic, and because nothing ever goes well for the turtles, things soon go out of hand, leading to a somewhat devastating conclusion that leaves the story open to continue in future issues, something that I hope the series will do.
The book’s final story, ‘Toad Barron’s Ball’ by Sophie Campbell, is probably one of the weirdest comics that I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot of Grant Morrison!). Leaving the turtles and New York behind, we join Angel Bridge and Alopex; a character that has to be a favourite of furry fans.
When the two of them are swallowed by a giant toad they find themselves in the court of the mystical Toad Barron, who wants them to join his never ending party. What follows in one of the trippiest stories that I’ve seen.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe Volume 2: The New Strangeness feels less coherent than the first volume, which had a story that encompassed the majority of the book, allowing time for more character development and intrigue. Thankfully, the ‘Metalhead 2.0’ story captures a lot of this feel; otherwise this volume would simply be a collection of unconnected one-shots.
Despite feeling more like a standalone book there are a number of story elements introduced in this book that remain unresolved by the end of their individual issues, leaving the possibility of future exploration in the future.