By Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Mateus Santolouco, Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison, Shawn Lee
The end of an era is here. Or at the very least, an epic and satisfying cliffhanger to be resumed in the near future.
Over 50 single issues, plus two dozen miniseries, Eastman and Waltz have crafted a modern reinvention of the TMNT mythos. With a few deft touches, they’ve proven that the property is endlessly adaptable to modern tastes. Month in and month out, Eastman and Waltz have resisted relaunches or renumbering, and never let the quality drop past “Great”.
Sick of Shredder’s constant attacks and the prolonged conflict spanning millennia, the TMNT and the Foot Clan have agreed to a duel to settle things once and for all. Shredder and Splinter will face each other in mortal combat, after a team of their subordinates is decided in a separate match.
Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello (in a robotic Shell-head body) face Bebop, Rocksteady, Hammerhead, and Koya. It’s a close match, but with a well-timed hail-mary from Donatello the TMNT pull ahead.
Eventually, as it always must, the TMNT face the Shredder over the rooftops of NYC for their final battle. The resolution is poignant and promising, with several threads left over to be continued on at IDW’s discretion.
Art-wise, the book is perfection. Santolouco has been the most recent artist to draw the book with occasional breaks. Cory Smith, the artist who drew the “Technodrome” arc, returns to draw the flashbacks of feudal Japan where the war between the Foot and Hamato Yoshi and his sons began.
The two create a rich story-telling experience, with their different art styles complimenting the two distinct eras of plot. Santlouco’s action scenes are visceral and eye-popping. It truly looks and feels like the culmination of an epic war ending. Smith’s style feels more personal and innocent, as though he was drawing the cartoon TMNT while Santolouco draws for the 90s movie. Both of them take the chance of a final issue and bring out all the stops to make this issue truly excellent.
If I had one complaint, it is the $7.99 price point. For a comic, this is a ridiculous sum to pay regardless of the cover and paper stock or whatever event the book is celebrating. Despite having no ads, the book is still only 24 pages of content with no extras such as fan letters, pin-ups, script breakdowns, or sketches. It’s a steep proposition, and made me reconsider if I had to have the book this week and not some time later for a reasonable discount.
Overall, this is one hell of an ending. Yes the conclusion isn’t too hard to predict, based on the dozen other times we’ve seen the TMNT fight the Shredder for “the last time”, but its execution is a wonder to see. The team from top to bottom goes for broke in making it the best possible ending they can. While it’s a shame of the original artist of this volume of the TMNT, Dan Duncan, couldn’t return somehow, there’s hope he will draw the characters again in the future. Any follow-up to this ending though, will have a lot of expectation to overcome.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent