I know what happens in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #6, but I couldn’t really tell you the sequence of events. There are notable things that stick out here and there, yet the structure completely escapes me. The finale plays out more like a montage of events than an actual narrative, which keeps even the few bright spots from being memorable.
Keep in mind that I really, really wanted to like this series, and I was incredibly excited when it was announced. No need to dredge up the disappointment I’ve felt from the first issue, just know I wanted to like this so badly, and yet I couldn’t.
Everything about the story just felt off from the get-go, and that’s no different here. Worse still, there are teases and moments that feel like they’re going to have a payoff, yet fizzle out entirely.
To be entirely fair, it starts off promisingly enough, with Donatello taking the Turtle Blimp to the Statue of Liberty to try and infiltrate Bane’s headquarters.
This kind of James Bond-esque opener is the right way to start a story en media res, dropping us in the middle of the action before the real story starts. Plus, seeing different Turtle-tech and vehicles is always a plus, especially a giant blimp. Blimps are amazing, as the GCPD can attest.
It’s all pretty of fun while it lasts, which unfortunately isn’t very long. From there the action jumps around between several groups of characters and it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep up with everything.
It’s strange, too, because the issue is effectively nothing but fight scenes. There should be lots of forward momentum and a quick pace, but it never takes off. Instead, it’s just an erratic collection of scenes that don’t really flow in and out of each other. There are threads of plot and purpose, but nothing is remarkably engaging.
Williams does what he can, and to his credit the illustrations are quite nice. There’s only so much you can do when each page is packed to the gills with faceless henchmen, though, and Tynion and Ferrier’s penchants to load the page with dialogue doesn’t help matters either.
Like the preceding five issues, the pacing here isn’t where it needs to be. Think back on the final issue of the previous series: there was a definite buildup and anticipation for Batman’s fight with the Shredder. Everything hinged on that scene, and it delivered in spades. The series built to that point, with a palpable sense of rising tension building and building in each issue. Once the two finally came to a head, it was one of the most exciting scenes in the series, thanks in no small part to the creative layouts and visual choices.
Contrast that with the big fight here, which comes across more as an inevitability than the story’s centerpiece. I’ve not felt that Bane has really posed much of a threat throughout the entire series, and other than a character literally stating that he’s moved in on Shredder’s city, there isn’t anything that makes you feel like the Turtles’ nemesis truly wants revenge. Their showdown just comes across as a kind of cool visual that doesn’t have any depth to it. That it’s just interjected between several other fight scenes takes away from the power, too.
Shredder is here because he’s expected, not because he’s needed. And he isn’t the only character who feels shoehorned in, either. I love Nightwing, but he could have been completely removed and it wouldn’t have impacted the story one bit. Robin had some good scenes with Raphael in previous issues, and Batgirl has a little bit more to do than Nightwing, but it still feels like Babs and Dick were included because it sounded like a cool idea. Neither they nor Shredder really serve any function in the story. Bebop, Rocksteady, and Baxter Stockman served the need of a villainous presence just fine, and Batman and Robin do so little to affect the outcome of the story that including two additional Bat-family members is completely unnecessary.
So what value is there? Even though the pacing is odd and it doesn’t flow remarkably well it’s still an easy read. There are flashes of inspiration here and there, and the fight between Batman, Shredder and Bane is a cool idea when taken out of context. The latter half of the final page is quite nice too, with a genuinely heartwarming sendoff and final image that brought a smile to my face. Beyond that, there isn’t much here for me to recommend. If you stuck out the series to the end and had been enjoying it to this point, you’ll probably like this issue too. It isn’t the worst installment of the series, nor does it elevate it in any way. It’s an average end to a disappointing series.
And come on, not even a reference to the brilliance of “Ninja Rap?”
- You’ve read the series this far.
- Even a brief fight between Shredder and Bane excites you.
Overall: More a montage than a complete story, at least the finale of this series is consistent with everything that came before. There are some great ideas present, but the execution is lacking in any sort of buildup and excitement. Like the rest of the story as presented in the previous issues, the final installment of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is a pretty nice looking work that doesn’t engage in any way on a story level.