Can someone please explain to me why the whole ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ thing was so big? I mean, I remember it kind of being talked about by the bigger kids on the playground when I was in school but I really couldn’t see the appeal. Originally the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were meant to be a parody of Daredevil and X-Men among other things, but now we have Michael Bay shoving it in our faces with a complete lack of irony. At some point we as an audience went from laughing at the Turtles to laughing with them and I can’t entirely see why. The real problem is that I am finding myself starting to enjoy the world of the Turtles, first in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 trailer and now with the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Issue One. I must be losing it. Actually, before I get stuck into the meat of this review, maybe watch that trailer one more time…
I liked Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Issue One. I am finding it hard to believe I just typed those words. I have seen Marvel and DC Comics handle a lot of crossovers across the years but it has to be said that this was one of the best ones. Crossovers are tricky as both companies, in this instance DC Comics and IDW, want to feel like their characters are being well-represented on the page. I have heard rumours of collaborations boiling down to a fifty-fifty split in the amount of panels each company’s characters were allowed in. Luckily, the two groups seem to have come to a fairly amicable arrangement here as the focus seems split fairly without anything feeling forced. DC Comics have pulled out all the stops to throw top talent on the book with James Tynion IV, of Batman and Robin Eternal fame, handling the writing. Tynion IV is the perfect choice for the project as he has a lot of experience writing for the Dark Knight and a limited experience of working for IDW, back with his ‘Why so sad’ short. Needless to say Tynion IV hits it out of the park.
Tynion IV likes to work with the perceptions of the people around Batman. This can be pretty interesting as it can lead to readers seeing Batman in a new light. In Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Issue One, the Turtles and their nemesis, Shredder, are thrown into the current DC Universe. Half the issue tackles their perspective as they attempt to figure out what is happening to them. This half culminates in a meeting with Batman and we see the caped crusader from the Turtles’ perspectives as they start to geek out over him. The other portion of the issue follows Batman as he tries to understand what is going on in his city. Killer Croc becomes involved, which adds an intriguing dynamic as he makes for a dark reflection of the Turtles. There are a few interesting exchanges between Bruce and Alfred in this issue as well, which add in another layer and an additional perspective. All of these perspective shifts play into the same themes as Tynion IV’s and Snyder’s Batman and Robin Eternal, exploring the Bat. It’s enjoyable and finds a way to serve most fans of both pop culture giants.
Freddie E. Williams II has a very distinctive style. It’s a rare in the world of comics as it takes on an almost watercolour feel to it. Williams II seems to have become an ambassador for DC Comics as he worked on the Green Lantern/ Star Trek crossover earlier this year. He understands what pop culture fans want in composition: for their favourite characters to look bad-ass. That being said, his style can lack impact at points and I often found myself struggling to enjoy the fight scenes as everything looked a little too weak. There’s a reason watercolours are normally reserved for countryside landscapes. This doesn’t hold the issue back too much but it certainly takes away from the impact it could have. The panelling is fairly standard throughout with little to complain or praise but I will say that it is very readable.
I like this book, it was a hidden gem in a week that was a little lacking when it came to the release schedule. Whether I would recommend it to everyone is a difficult question to answer. If you can wrap your head around the idea of a man dressed as a bat teaming up with a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight ninjas and imagine that combination to have serious emotional depth, you might just be the right person to buy this issue. That being said, I let out a series of manic giggles while writing that sentence. I think at the end of the day you already know deep down if you’re going to like this book. If you are one of those happy few, go grab it today!