JUST JOSHING: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101 – 102

Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman’s run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles concluded with a bang with issue 100.  It was time for a new beginning and a different voice to write about the turtles, and IDW picked an amazing person to continue the run.

Sophie Campbell is an incredible talent.  Wet Moon is one of comic’s best-kept secrets and you should buy volume one when you get the chance to.  She had the momentous task of following up on the previous century amount of issues that had preceded her.  I was wondering going into it, what would be different and what would be the same.

Fair warning: there are spoilers to issue 100 in here as well.  Read that before continuing.

Okay?  Okay.

Here we go.

The Book

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101 – 102

Script and Art: Sophie Campbell

Colors: Ronda Pattison

Story Consultants: Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman

Issue 101 begins with Splinter right after he dies.  The impact on each turtle is right there as each of them weeps around as the panels just focus on one key, cruel thing.  Splinter is gone.  Page 2 is the funeral.  It might be the most powerful single page in the entire series. Each turtle has a scene.  Jennika, silent and respectful, and the other turtles all breaking with each panel, with Raphael and Pepperoni on the last scene.  Raph ripping his mask off, broken.  This is an amazing page, for its storytelling and its emotion.  Loss is the theme in these opening pages and Campbell and Pattison execute it flawlessly.

Lost and being lost seems to be the theme of this.  And for most of the rest of the issue that’s where Leo, Donnie, and Michaelangelo stay.   Six months pass in the story, and each character is grieving the events of issue 100 in different ways.

And then, the story begins.

Donatello’s journal details exactly what has happened in all that time, Everyone is lost and standing still.  All the characters are grieving in some way.  From the journal the story transitions to a shelter where Alopex and Raph interact on the problems of feeding the new mutant population.  Alopex and Jennika fill in some nice gaps so the readers understand some of the new rules of this new world in front of us before Jennika finds herself following an orphan kid to a new character named Mona Lisa.

Jennika rescues her before the issue ends with Jennika facing another of Hob’s new enforcers, a giant porcupine with some serious attitude.

This issue is much slower than the previous issues in the city at war arc.  It’s a new beginning, and a slow, but a steady transition.  I really dig the characterization in each of the pages.  It’s a different feeling and voice in this issue.  It feels like a different ninja turtles, but still with all the familiar themes that you love about the characters.  Family is the heart of this story, and right now everyone is rattled by what happened.  Where do you go when the rock of your family is gone?

Issue number 102 speeds up the story with Raphael talking to Sally, one of Hob’s enforcers, as the Mutimals are not doing a good job protecting the mutants.  Exploitation seems to be the name of the game and that comes to a head with Jennika battling Hob’s enforcers before being rescued by Sally and Raphael.  Sally fires one of the enforcers, a giant nameless porcupine.  Meanwhile, Donnie, Leo and Michaelangelo fragment even further as Donnie leaves the house and so does Leo.  All three of them feel lost in their grief.  I get the feeling that Donatello is going to be the focus of one of the forthcoming issues as he’s been the one narrating that arc.  It’s kind of nice because as a whole, Donatello has at times felt underutilized in Waltz’s run.  Here he gets a fresh voice and adds to the different experience this new TMNT team provides.

Finally, we see what Hob has been up to and as usual, his usual tricks and schemes make more of a mess than they help…  Making deals with people he shouldn’t and causing trouble.  The nameless giant porcupine gets his comeuppance from his more questionable behaviors on the street from Hob, and out of spite ruins, the deal Hob made with the foot clan, loosing three mutant children in the streets of New York.  Their plight seems to be the focus of the next issue.

Two issues in and I really dig Sophie Campbell’s take on the turtles. There is a nice combination of storytelling crafted with incredible imagination.  Sophie is adding to the mythology of the series by introducing the characters of Mona Lisa and adding to the voices of characters like Jennika and Donatello.  All the while she seems to be having a blast with some of the mutant designs and the city of new york in winter.

Credit should also be given to colorist Ronda Pattison.  The color choices are soft.  It gives the books a timeless feel to some of the pages, and at the same time, as sad as the depths of loss can be, the colors add sparks of humanity to characters like Alopex and Raphael and Pepperoni.  There is a charm and magic to what Campbell and Pattison are doing here.

This is their book now. It’s different than what Waltz did.  It’s slower, more character-driven (which is a compliment, because Waltz was no slouch there at all) but it’s the little things in these books that matter.  The action is smaller, but the characters seem more human, fragile.  Each of the characters in the book is trying to find their place in this new world, and that vulnerability is something rarely seen in a comic this way.  Sophie Campbell’s Ninja Turtles book is fantastic.  Give it a try.  As far as I’m concerned, she can do this as long as she wants to.

The Business

In light of the fact that I was on vacation last week, I’m releasing three episodes of the podcast this week.  My first one is out right now with guest Jennifer Irwin.  Jennifer wrote an amazing independent book with Dress The Color of the Sky and we talk about that and lots of other cool things.  Listen below if you want.

I was featured on Joe Compton’s Spotlight series. If you want to understand how I conduct myself on the podcast, including how I handle chaos, watch below.

I got my first rejection letter this year on the weekend.  I grimaced (as authors do) but press on.  That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll finally write about buying local.  For now, stay inspired.  Keep going for your dreams.  I’ll be back soon.

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