The beginning of the issue picks up a bit after #8, but right after the conclusion of the recent Leonardo special. Leonardo has fought off a horde of Foot Soldiers and is a bit under the weather and comes home just in time for the Turtles to collectively all “meet” April. They, of course, technically “met” her when they were normal sea turtles and she named them (the significance of the naming is actually brought up in-story), but you probably catch my drift. This puts to bed one of the big inevitabilities of the IDW TMNT… “what will happen when April finally meets the Turtles as mutants?” This plays out various ways in previous incarnations… generally with her fainting. There’s a bit of that here but this seems to be an April with a pretty good head on her shoulders. When the Turtles hit her with the double-whammy of “by the way, we’re also reincarnated” bomb she responds pretty much exactly the way you would expect her to in this situation.
Following up on the Leonardo special, there is a top-down moment with Leonardo reflecting on the experience rather chillily: “Don’t worry about those jerks… they won’t catch us off-guard again.” That’s it.Duncan’s art really sells the moment and brings home this sense of, “Oh wow, Leonardo isn’t ****ing around now.” I do hope we actually see that in the next TMNT-Foot encounter, as the violence in the Leonardo special itself was fairly tame (in most panels, Leonardo looking like he’s simply doing a lot of shoving and light slashing, while admittedly there are — apparently – some “dead” bodies to be seen lying around in some panels).
A touching moment occurs when the Turtles infiltrate StockGen Labs and it is driven home that Casey is indeed a part of the Turtles’ new adopted family. I do like how that seems to be a strong, prevalent running theme throughout the IDW TMNT: the TMNT as a family. A lot of fans were concerned that would be an aspect that would be downplayed or ignored, but it’s very clear by this point that it’s at the forefront of everything they’re doing.
The infiltration sequence is short but sweet. Donatello manages to reprogram one of the MOUSERs to go after the security guards inside and there’s a bit of a scuffle. The climax is a fight with a giant, ED-209 like MOUSER (actually, I think it reminds me a little more of a Madcat from Battletech/Mechwarrior) which they proceed to beat the crap out of.
The big reveal comes at the very end, with the one-two punch of Karai, who introduces her “grandfather”… the Shredder, on a big splash page.
I love the designs of Karai and especially Shredder. A big fear was that Shredder would be overdesigned but there’s a very careful attention to functionality and aesthetics that blend perfectly. He looks badass, and Karai is allowed to both be sexy and imposing. This is definitely the 4Kids version of Karai we’re looking at here, very much in the shadow of the Shredder (here, her “grandfather” and in 4Kids her adopted father figure) and not the independent leader of the entire Foot Clan we saw in the source material who would have been Saki’s (unrelated) superior… but I do have every faith that the IDW team can make it work in their universe.
I am, of course, unconvinced that the Shredder is actually her grandfather at all. I fully expect to see a reveal that he is the very same Oroku Saki we saw in the flashback to Feudal Japan in #5… and quite possibly with an Utrom (or something) in his chest, also like the 4Kids series. But I hope not. In a series that has created no human adversaries (save for Stockman, but you just know it’s only a matter of time until he’s a cyborg or a mutant fly or something)… making the Shredder some kind of alien isn’t doing this universe any favors. If he turns out to just be a crafty human that’s unlocked the secret to Immortality or time travel then great, but I’m wincing a bit while we wait to see who/what this Shredder is.
All in all a great issue that – I have to believe – really delivers what people have been waiting to see. It’s an organic shift from the Leonardo special that I think (and hope) represents a gear shift towards some pretty gritty fare for a change of pace. Everyone brought their A game this issue and no page or panel seems wasted.