Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 review

Batman TMNT 4

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I love great character moments in comics.  Huge action scenes and well-staged fights are great when executed properly, but something that makes you feel for the characters you’re reading about?  Things that make you understand a previous event or appreciate new connections made between characters?  That’s something special.  The reader has to care enough to want to read about something, and for a writer that can be the hardest thing to pull off.

I’ve said it in previous reviews for this title, but even going beyond nostalgia this has been a remarkably well-written miniseries.  As far as being a good character piece, this issue does pretty much just that: it focuses on Batman and the Turtles, with everyone getting at least one moment to really be themselves, and as such it might be the best written installment so far.

After a brief prologue in Arkham Asylum with a surprise appearance from Doctor Zaheer, the focus shifts to Wayne Manor, which is in pretty much the shape you’d expect it to be after the Ninja Turtles move in.

If you don't take delight in Alfred carrying a dozen pizza boxes then I can't help you.If you don’t take delight in Alfred grumbling about teenagers while carrying a dozen pizza boxes then I can’t help you.

Does that mean that Bats and the Turtles bond over the Great Unifier itself?

SHOW SPOILER ▼

It’s all relatively low-key, but just letting these characters be themselves is the best thing Tynion could do.  Michaelangelo goofs around, Donatello is simultaneously in awe of Bruce’s tech and worried about their mutagen problem, Leonardo and Batman himself spar under Splinter’s tutelage, and Raphael is just a grouch.  Everything you’d expect, and it’s actually a welcome breather.  Most minis like this start going off the rails around the midway point, so the fact that the creative team took a step back to allow things to breathe was a pleasant surprise.

Going beyond that, Batman has one of his best lines in years:

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That’s what I love to see.  These characters have personalities and histories, which is something we can often take for granted.  We know about Bruce’s tragic past, but other characters may not, and certainly not guys from an entirely different dimension.  I was leery of this issue when the solicitations popped up, fearing that it would be a ham-fisted retread of Batman’s origin.  Instead, like Bruce says, he wants Raphael to understand, because he himself understands.  The same understanding that made him take up his crusade, the understanding that moved him to take a newly orphaned acrobat under his wing, that is what drives Batman to help others and, in this case, what makes him want to help the Turtles get home.

The plot is moving forward at a fairly leisurely pace, which is fine by me, though the bookends at Arkham promise a climax that may be just a bit too silly.

For a comic book.

With talking turtles.

Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that where I think it’s going reminds me an awful lot of a certain video game we all know and love and leave it at that.

Shredder gets surprisingly little focus, though his one scene with Ra’s is kind of fun, what with the two of them obviously trying to be the leader of the whole ordeal.  It also leads to the entrance of Stephen Amell Casey Jones, goalie mask and all.

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I don’t have my finger on the pulse of Turtle fandom, so I’m not sure what the general consensus is for the guy, but I love Casey Jones.  Enjoy this scene as an intermission:

Alright, welcome back.

Freddie Williams’ pencils have vastly improved as this series has gone on, and it’s helped in no small way by Jeremy Colwell’s colors.  The characters and perspective are all even, which was a problem early on, and everything looks particularly bright even though most of the action is in the Batcave.  Williams gets a chance to draw some more Batmobiles as well, and every one of them is better than the main one Bats uses here.

This series hasn’t quite risen to greatness, but it’s at least been consistently good.  Tynion’s obvious knowledge and love of both franchises really helps it rise above expectations, so here’s hoping the final two chapters contain the same great fights and good characterization we’ve seen so far.

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BONUS: Yep, another variant cover from Eastman, though I’m not in love with it.

SHOW SPOILER ▼

Way too dark and unclear as to what’s going on.  It’s a nice addition, but the previous covers have been better.

Recommended if:

  • You like Batman.
  • And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • You like surprisingly great characterization and dialogue.
  • Pizza, right guys?
  • Also, now I have “It’s Tricky” stuck in my head…

Overall: Like this series has been so far, much better than it had to be.  Other than a fun little sparring match there’s very little action, but the strong dialogue helps move things along.  Rather than using it to allow Bruce to brood and wallow in anger and darkness, Tynion uses the death of Bruce’s parents to show his empathy and understanding so as to better connect with the Turtles.  It’s scenes like that and those smart choices that have helped make this a solid, genuinely entertainment my series.

SCORE: 7.5/10

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