I’m not going to lie: I kind of dug this issue, but I’m having a really hard time remembering anything that happened. It moves along at a fairly brisk pace (aside from a page or two that are loaded with dialogue), and the broad strokes of the events stick out, but I don’t really remember any of the connective tissue.
Still, a win’s a win, I suppose, and the penultimate installment of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is fairly enjoyable. For a series that never really took off to begin with, that may just be good enough.
Really, that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for this book, but it’s true: at its very best, this has been passably entertaining. There’s no sense of fun or excitement like in the previous series, and even the nostalgic joy of seeing these characters together is all but missing. I’d hate to call it a cash-grab since its predecessor was so well-received, but it’s hard to think the contrary.
But hey, I said I kind of dug this issue and that’s true. Tynion and Ferrier hit on some pretty solid themes and character beats when they’re not taking whole pages to dish expository and overly-explanatory dialogue. Because… yeah, there’s a lot of that.
Cool layout choices from Williams aside, there are several pages like this and they don’t always land. Too often it comes across as using five words to explain something when you could just as easily use two. The writing, then, is too often bloated and bordering on purple prose.
But when it lands, though, it sticks with you. The best dialogue by far is between Batman, Leonardo, and Donatello, with the former two explaining to the latter why using Bane’s own weapon against him isn’t the best course of action. You get a genuine sense of empathy from Batman, who has been down the route Donnie is on, telling Donatello that “revenge will never solve anything,” and that he’s spent his “whole life learning that lesson.” It’s great character work, and an example of when dialogue should be used to solve problems.
When it shouldn’t? When it’s used to tell us about events instead of showing them. There’s a point where Nightwing and Batgirl cross over so they can take a badly injured Splinter to a Lazarus Pit. They warn that, even though it will heal him, his mind will be unstable for hours or even days afterward. The lead-up is paced really well and promises the potential for some interesting fight dynamics, yet… it never happens. At least, it never happens on panel. Splinter is lowered into the Pit and, next thing we see, they’re all back in the Turtles’ lair. Most frustrating of all, this is followed by a full page layout that shows Splinter, Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, and Raphael fighting against a bunch of Man-Bats, and then it just moves on.
I don’t know about you, but I’m totally about ninjas fighting other ninjas who are also bat/human hybrids. This could have been a great, dynamic fight scene, but instead it’s relegated to a partial-page splash surrounded by dialogue that tells us how Splinter fought through his rage.
Given the pacing of this series to this point, though, it’s not that surprising. Most of the rising action and tension occurs off-panel, like Bane’s takeover of the New York criminal underworld. We’re frequently told about how he’s amassed an army of soldiers and has the city under his thumb, but we’re never given a real sense of his power. Weirder still, he seems almost obsessed with crafting the perfect message to the citizens of New York, where he will lay out his goals and how he has taken control of the city. I mean, sure, I guess, but… the dude put a giant mask of the Statue of Liberty’s face. I’m sure that everyone got the message after that.
Even with those frustrations, though, I’m still fine with the series. It may be due to drastically lowered expectations, which I’ll honestly admit is probably the case. This is not a great comic or a great series, but if you’ve stuck around at this point there are a few bright spots that pay off.
BONUS: A variant cover from Turtles creator Kevin Eastman that’s sweet if for no other reason than the comic itself has a serious lack of chainsaw-wielding Bebop.
- You’re a huge fan of both properties.
- You’ve stuck around this long.
Overall: This may be a case of drastically lowered expectations, but I still got some enjoyment out of this issue. It’s not really great, choosing to have endless scenes of dialogue explaining things that have happened instead of just showing us what happened, but there are some bright spots to be sure. I liked the interactions between Batman and Donatello, with Donnie’s heel turn built up to in a believable way, and Williams still proves to be the right artist for this book. As far as the series as a whole goes, it won’t win you back over if you’ve already jumped ship, but it’s an acceptable enough penultimate chapter.