By Ryan Ferrier, Adam Gorham, Joshua Hixson, Ronda Pattison, Brahm Revel, Shawn Lee
This Week’s Finest goes to the book that shows us who would win between a mutant turtle and a turtle android. To the death!
If you’re not familiar with TMNT Universe as a series, it’s a spinoff from the main book that focuses on stories outside or concurrent with the overarching plot. Sometimes they’re small and sometimes they’re action-packed as there’s no real pattern to them. It’s almost like an anthology title in that respect, in that different creators come on, tell their stories, and then the process starts over again.
With this issue, we see the fallout from Donatello trying to rebuild Metalhead, the robot built by Harold Lillija and at one time Don’s temporary body. Obviously Donny recovered, but he can’t seem to let good tech go to waste. Since Harold isn’t speaking to the TMNT, Donny has no help in salvaging Metalhead or knowledge that Metalhead still has Donny’s memories and personality. Enter: Metal-Don!
Right away, Ryan Ferrier’s script packs an emotional punch as the two Don’s try to adjust to a reality where they both exist. Is Metal-Don a copy? A machine? Or something of a ghost of Donny’s previous self? Add that to the fact Metal-Don is trapped as he is since “our” Donatello inhibits his original body. It’s almost written like a horror movie (Frankenstein meets The Terminator), with Don and his brothers debating how to deal with Metal-Don with Raphael calling how this situation will blow up in their faces. It’s a straightforward and familiar story, but it’s no less a personal look at the TMNT grappling with a foe that is one of their own.
Metal-Don for his part isn’t evil, not exactly. He’s Donatello trapped in Metalhead with no chance of escape, suffering PTSD but unable to solve that with a mechanical brain. Eventually, he decides to give up the pretense that he is Donatello in any form and tries to become a heartless machine. Much like some of the Turtles more imposing foes, they can’t outright beat Metal-Don in a straight fight. They survive by the skin of their teeth, haunted by the reality Metal-Don will be back again. Donatello is particularly hurt by this, as this whole experience was a failure for him: he couldn’t fix Metalhead correctly, he couldn’t save his digital brother and he couldn’t best him in a fight. Despite Don’s brilliance, it wasn’t enough in this instance.
On art, Adam Gorham and Joshua Hixson illustrate a gritty but expressive TMNT tale. The 90’s live action movies are a clear source of inspiration, with the size of the character’s eyes and how their bodies are built. Contrasting such lighthearted characters into a darker, almost bleak, story creates an interesting contrast. Hixson’s inks almost act as blur lines during action scenes, while Gorham stacks panels every-which-way to convey the events in the most dynamic method. IDW always has great artists on these TMNT books, and this one is no exception. As always, Pattison’s colors are a subtle but complete final touch on the art. Her colors give a continuity between every books style, giving it a connected sense across multiple series.
It’s not hard to give TWF to a TMNT book as they’re often of consistently great quality, but this issue was of an even better than I expected. Do yourself a favor and pick it up if you have even small memories of liking the Turtles.