The third (and likely final) crossover between Batman and the Ninja Turtles kicked off with a surprisingly excellent first issue. After a disappointing second miniseries, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this new series, and the odd “mashups” of the different characters didn’t do much to get me excited. Despite all that uncertainty and apprehension, Tynion, Williams, and team managed to stick the landing with their crazy ideas, at least when it came to kicking the new series off.
I mean, Splinter in a tuxedo and the Krang housed in the Anti-Monitor’s tummy should be right up my alley, but I was… cautiously optimistic, to say the least. The high-concept was a lot of fun, though, and the unexpected appearance of the original “Mirage”-style Raphael got me all in on this story.
So where did this monochrome turtle who is both cool and rude come from? Why is the history of this Earth so much different than the ones we’re used to? And just what does the Anti-Krangitor have planned? The answers are here in the second issue, which is still plenty enjoyable but gets bogged down a bit with a bunch of exposition.
The fact that the exposition and explanations are necessary makes it easy to read, of course, and it’s all the better that it’s both interesting and fun.
Oh, and the best part is Kevin Eastman provides pencils for the original Turtles. There are points where Williams does an admirable job of mimicking his style, so I thought that it was Williams throughout. But no, Eastman carries the load when Mirage Raphael (Miraphael?) recounts his story. (Note: after the review published, Williams confirmed for me that every instance of the Mirage Turtles was Eastman, so there you go)
As expected, it is totally rad.
Not to knock the writing in this issue, but it’s the art that really carries it. As I said before, the whole merging of universes and how Raphael wound up in this world is interesting, but it’s still pretty straightforward stuff.
…well, okay, maybe not “straightforward,” because it’s crazy, goofy, and weird, but it’s crazy, goofy, and weird in the ways you’d expect. “Krang wants to conquer the Multiverse, so he merges worlds together” is exactly the kind of zaniness a book like this needs, and it’s precisely what we get. There’s talk about “progenitor worlds” and changing origin points and all sorts of gobbledygook, which is not a criticism at all. With a story titled “Crisis in a Half Shell,” that’s exactly what I want, and Tynion gives it to us. What I didn’t expect was a perfect blend of Williams’ complex style with Eastman’s unique, scratchy aesthetic, and boy was I pleasantly surprised.
And it’s not just the fun novelty of seeing these two great artists working alongside each other. There’s some really great composition work and storytelling throughout. Just look at that page above. I’m a sucker for the “phantom figures” that simulate movement, so seeing Batman and Raphael spar through this technique was an utter joy. Factor in the stunning colors from Jeremy Colwell and spot-on lettering from Tom Napolitano (especially the fonts used for the classic Turtles versus their modern counterparts) and this issue is a visual feast.
Then there’s just the utter weirdness of the whole “mashup” idea that’s absolutely delightful.
It’s Krang! And the Anti-Monitor! And those weird cosmic tuning fork things from Crisis on Infinite Earths! How can you not love that?
This is a comic that’s easier to enjoy than analyze, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s not mindless entertainment or dumb by any means, but it’s also not trying to be anything more than it is: a fun comic. This isn’t trying to say anything profound about the characters, or “deconstruct the idea of being a hero” or analyze the motivations behind vigilantism or anything like that. It’s “wouldn’t it be cool if Clayface and Rocksteady were merged together?” and “what if all the Turtles were Robins?” That’s all it wants to be, and that’s exactly what it is.
Plus we get to see someone who’s been absent from the printed page for far too long…
Oh how I’ve missed that yellow oval and capsule belt.
I can’t tell which Batman this is supposed to be. The coloring on the mask is reminiscent of Batman ’66, along with some of his sillier lines, but the capsule belt is a creation of the comics. He’s the Batman of the “progenitor Earth” that Krang speaks about, so no matter which Batman he is, he’s supposed to be the one at the center around which all others revolve.
Ultimately, though, I just love seeing that suit again. I’m a man of simple tastes.
Frankly, after the disappointing second series, I’m glad that the creative team is just trying to entertain with their finale. It’s grandiose, goofy fun, and it doesn’t need to be anything else. Two chapters in I’m already enjoying this series quite a bit, and while it hasn’t risen to the surprisingly emotional storytelling of the first series, it’s still a great joy to read.
- You love Batman. All sorts of Batman.
- You love the Ninja Turtles.
- You just want fun, goofy, wacky comics.
Overall: What it lacks in depth this issue more than makes up for in sheer entertainment. Tynion and Williams are just leaning right into the crazy idea behind this series, and seeing Eastman contribute his unique aesthetic is an utter delight. The visuals carry the issue more than the writing, but it’s still a rollicking good time. Without spoiling anything, this is more of a treat for Turtles fans than Batman fans, but there are some great surprises featuring the Caped Crusader that will surely cause readers of all sort to crack a smile.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.