‘A new age begins for the turtles as the epic events of the past have created new opportunities for the future, but new dangers as well. While they continue to get used to a world leading the Foot Clan post-Shredder, they return to the Technodrome to monitor the revival of the Utroms on Burnow Island and are surprised to meet a new mutant – Leatherhead! But will the mysterious mutant be friend or foe? Plus, Kitsune still poses a threat, and a new group, the Street Phantoms, enters the fray!’
The saga of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues in the latest bumper volume from IDW, bringing together 14 issues in one beautiful 300 page book. Following the defeat, and death, of their enemy The Shredder at the hands of Splinter, the Turtles and their friends find themselves a part of the Foot Clan when Splinter takes over as their leader. Much of this volume centres on this massive change to the lives of the Turtles as they come to terms with their new place amongst their former enemies, and the effect that this change has had on their father.
The death of Shredder could have been a conclusion to the Turtles’ story, or an opportunity to introduce a new villain to the universe; instead, the team behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made the much wiser choice of having conflict come from within the family unit. Whilst the book does feature the appearance of a new tech-savvy street gang and their crime boss leader Darius Dunn, they’re not a huge threat or a central focus.
What the book focuses on instead is the slow descent of Splinter to becoming the kind of morally corrupt leader that the Turtles previously fought against, and how this affects their family unit. At the beginning of the book Michelangelo has already made his feelings on the matter clear and has left his family, disagreeing with Splinter’s choices, and throughout the story the characters make moves to bring him back into the fold, before pulling the rug out from beneath the readers in the final issue and having the rest of the Turtles turn their backs on Splinter too.
The interpersonal drama is well paced, and feels very real. You can understand why Splinter is making the decisions that he is, and can even agree with them to a certain point. At the same time, however, it’s easy to side with the Turtles too. There’s no clear black and white, no good or bad, just differing opinions on what is the best way to proceed with their new circumstances. For a book that’s essentially about mutant animals fighting aliens and ninjas, it’s able to do interpersonal drama better than many DC and Marvel books.
The book also packs in a lot of action throughout, with a number of smaller intertwining stories. There’s a huge confrontation with the Street Phantoms and Darius Dunn at the end of the book, but we also have several skirmishes before this, as well as a battle with the supernatural entity Kitsune: a fight that has huge consequences for the Turtles’ ally Alopex.
Whilst the book is mainly about the Foot Clan and how the Turtles have been picking up the pieces following the death of Shredder, there’s also a section of the book that moves the Utrom story forward, with the Turtles assisting Professor Honeycutt in awakening a number of the aliens from their hibernation. A distraction from the main plot, this small side-story is actually very entertaining, and manages to introduce the mutant crocodile Leatherhead into the re-imagined universe.
This volume also introduces readers to several new mutants in the form of the Mutanimals: a rag-tag group of crime-fighters that includes Man Ray, Herman the Hermit Crab, and Mondo Gecko. A really fun mix of characters that gives Mickey the spotlight early on, they make for a great expansion to the universe.
Volume 7 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles packs a lot of action and interpersonal drama into its pages, crafting a hugely enjoyable and well-told story that is sure to satisfy long-term fans and new readers alike.