I’m conflicted. On the one hand, the transformation of Arkham inmates into animals is almost overwhelmingly silly, even by the standards of both of these properties. It’s not a deal breaker, but as much as I love comic book goofiness, even this is pushing it.
Then again, Bane is now an elephant.
Forget reading that; I’d write that.
As befits a crossover like this, the finale here is wall-to-wall action. There are still quite a few great little character moments, which is one of the things I’ve loved about this book, and the constant fight scenes and action sequences never feel rote or overwhelming.
The dissipating mutagen in the Turtles’ systems is barely touched upon, but honestly, that’s ok. We’re aware of the need for haste and their impending doom, so any added drama would just weigh the issue down. It isn’t remarkably deep, but the storytelling is solid and consistent so all is forgiven.
The inmates’ differing reactions to being transformed are a nice touch: some embrace it completely, using their new abilities to try and beat the Batman, while others like Mr. Freeze aren’t happy at all. It’s those seemingly insignificant little bits that have made this book work from day one, making you really feel for the characters instead of just trading completely on nostalgia.
By this point, I’ve beaten around the bush enough. I’m sure you guys want to know about the fight between Batman and Shredder, right?
For those who don’t want to be spoiled, here’s your chance to bail until you read the issue. In the meantime, enjoy this reenactment I staged with my son’s toys.
Ok, there may not have been a car involved, but whatever.
I’m not going to lie: the fight is initially a disappointment. Batman shows up in his Intimidator suit and, ummmmm…
Yeah, it’s kind of really dumb. He and Shredder trade a few blows and that’s that. The main draw of this scene is the Turtles’ fight with Ra’s Al Ghul, which is staged really well and unfolds believably. Ra’s bests each Turtle individually, and it’s only when they work together that they defeat him. Even then it may be a bit of a stretch that they could beat him, but hey, it works.
That is the fight I wanted to see. My inner ten-year-old was jumping for joy at this point, and my current 31-year-old self had the dumbest grin on my face in this scene. Every wonky perspective issue and weird design choice by Freddie Williams is forgiven with that one page. It’s the one thing everyone wanted to see from this series, and it does not disappoint. Even with silly Bat-armor that has weird Ninja Turtle feet.
I’m going to assume that it’s no surprise that there’s a happy ending, because why wouldn’t there be? But really, that isn’t the point. This is a miniseries that surprised in pretty much every way except its narrative: the characterizations were rock-solid, the plot moved along at a deliberate and believable pace, and above anything else it had loads of heart. It even ends with a meditation on family, and at their cores, that is what both of these properties are about: Batman wants to replace the family he lost, and the Turtles learn to work together as brothers.
Seriously, the final exchange between Batman and Raphael is genuinely, sincerely moving. Kudos to James Tynion IV for taking an easy sell of a crossover and not going on autopilot but instead making it so much better than it needed to be. It wraps up a little quickly, the ending a bit too pat, but that’s forgivable because it was so strong leading up to the end.
It was a good Ninja Turtles story.
It was a good Batman story.
It was a good story. Period.
BONUS: The final variant from Eastman, and it’s one of the better ones.
- You’ve been reading thus far.
- You like Batman.
- You like the Ninja Turtles.
- You’ve been waiting to see Batman and the Shredder throw down.
Overall: A solid ending to a solid series, there’s hardly a page wasted here as the story comes to a close. The fights are great, the writing is moving, and the nostalgia is a boon instead of a crutch. If you love either property or, even better, both properties, this has been a surprisingly great journey. Let’s just never say “CowaBatga” again.