It’s not uncommon for IDW to crossover DC Comics characters into their own licenses, but this week DC introduced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into Gotham.
Continuing a new ongoing series which will review, critique and comment on current comic runs and new titles hitting comic book shelves. Some will be advance reviews, others my thoughts on what I’ve been reading lately.
IDW Publishing hold a unique position in the comics world as a comics label that manages to bridge the gap between the big two, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, commonly publishing both art series from Marvel as well as crossing over DC characters into some of their titles. A current recent example being the Star Trek/Green Lantern ongoing series. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. In addition to these collaborations IDW hold some interesting licenses including G.I. Joe, the afore mentioned Star Trek, the ever popular My Little Pony as well as a personal, current favourite of mine, Back to the Future.
One of their other big titles is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The current main, ongoing Turtles title is overseen by one of the creators of the characters, Kevin Eastman and has been consistently well received by fans. The Turtles have themselves been part of an all IDW licensed crossover with a run combining the ‘heroes in a half-shell’ with, of all things, the Ghostbusters in October 2014.
So IDW pairing up licenses is common, and the publisher bringing in characters from DC Comics isn’t unusual either. It struck me as equal parts peculiar and exciting, then, when DC Comics announced that they were releasing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman title.
This Week Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 hit comic shop shelves and I was too intrigued not to grab a copy. I’ve not been a massive Turtles fan, and truth be told, I’ve been a little over Batman in comics for a while now too, though that may all change as I also picked up the deluxe hardcover copy of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
Being a visual kind of person, the artwork is the first thing I look for in any comic before checking the integrity of the writing, and in this instance I found artist Freddie E Williams II‘s style flip-flopped vastly in quality. His presentation of the Turtles in a classic style and his subsequent visualisation of Killer Croc are a joy to behold, only enhanced by dark palette provided by colourist Jeremy Colwell. Contrast that with Batman, or indeed any depiction of any human being in the comic, and it goes a bit cartoony. As this first installment draws to a close the Turtles stumble across the Batmobile for the first time, Donatello is dumbstruck and declares ‘She’s Beautiful…’, a reasonable observation ordinarily, except what’s drawn on the page is nothing short of a mess. Something a child might conjure up.
Fortunately the writing makes up for the inconsistent artwork. Whilst still accessible to a younger audience there’s enough happening to entertain a more mature reader too. The Foot Clan, Shredder, Splinter, Killer Croc, the Turtles and Batman all collide in Gotham City where we discover that large-scale significant items of technology are being targeted and stolen. The Turtles are in pursuit of the Foot Clan, The Clan are after the tech, Killer Croc is after a profit and the Batman is certain the Turtles are up to no good and their first meeting forms a reasonable cliff-hanger. I’d bet good money that #2 kicks off with a rumble between the Turtles and Batman before the two reconcile their differences to become a kick-ass team taking on the bad guys. Cliched? For sure, but it’s everything else that happens along the way that matters. There’s potential in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I’ll leave it to the respective fans of these titles to find out where it goes next. This won’t make my pull list.