The crossover years in the making, the story we thought could NEVER be told.
My 14-year-old self would high-five me, if he were here… Your Major Spoilers review of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 awaits!
BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Freddie E. Williams II
Colorist: Jeremy Colwell
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: I’m gonna be honest here, if you don’t have an inkling of who Batman is, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there’s a really good chance you got to Major Spoilers by accident… That said, Welcome! Batman is secretly Bruce Wayne, a young orphan whose parents were taken from him by a sudden crime, who dedicates his life to fighting badness in all it’s forms. The Turtles are four actual turtles, mutated by a strange ooze, trained by a master ninja to combat all manner of badness, all the while living in the sewers of Manhattan. But what forces could bring them together?
KNIGHTS IN A HALF-SHELL
The opening sequence of this issue is masterful story-telling, with a woman recounting her tale, explaining how her workplace, an advanced scientific facility, was robbed. A group of strange black-clad ninjas arrived, in pursuit of their sciencey-science stuff, but were thwarted by four dark figures, who quickly overcame the attackers. But then, stepping out of the shadows, the four masked creatures revealed their strange, inhuman, green faces. The woman is revealed to be speaking to The Batman himself, who quickly sets out to find these strange metahuman combatants. At the same time, Killer Croc skulks in the sewers of Gotham, ready to pull off a plan of his own: To steal and part out the Batmobile itself! It’s a remarkably smart one for Croc (something that the story lampshades quite elegantly, with the villain snorting that nobody ever suspects that he’s cunning as well as monstrously powerful), but it hits a snag when he bumps into several other reptilians in the sewer. There’s a nice bit of parallel storytelling, as the heroes switch villains (Croc vs. TMNT, Batman vs. The Foot Clan), as well as a bit of foreshadowing that promises a battle between Bruce Wayne and Oroku Saki, before ending the issue with a sudden cliffhanger meeting of Turtles and Bat…
EAGERLY AWAITING BATMAN VS SHREDDER
As a first issue, this one is very successful, working in Alfred, Splinter, pizza and all the important bits of lore effectively, while keeping a tight plot and making a few jokes about the TMNT movies. Of course, even that joke leads into a story point, as we discover that the Foot and the Turtles have somehow been transported from their world to Batman’s and the collection of electronic doodads and scientific instruments is in service of returning home. Best of all, the art in this issue is excellent, giving us a heroic human Batman while keeping the Turtles true to form as two-toed not-quite-cartoony cool monster-guys, a balance that was always going to be the crux of the issue’s challenges. (The use of Killer Croc to remind us that Batman has seen these sort of not-quite-human mutations before is quite brilliant, when you think about it.) Tynion’s script keeps the balance between Batman’s mostly-sorta-realism with the more out-there aspects of the Turtles story well, and all of the characters are well-delineated, especially the brief bits of Splinter and Shredder, which give any hypothetical new readers a perfect thumbnail of what they’re about.
THE BOTTOM LINE: MOSTLY SETUP, BUT EFFECTIVE
This issue has a lot of heavy-lifting to do in terms of establishing the plot and the whys and wherefores of this crossover, but it still makes for a good read, and skillfully balances exposition with action and character, even if it doesn’t give Raphael as much of a spotlight as he clearly deserves. (Raph is the best Turtle. Neener.) Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 takes two powerhouse properties, and makes it all work by focusing on the similarities and the characters, with strong art and some wonderful moments sprinkled in, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. Now, if we can get a Casey Jones/Nightwing snark-fight somewhere in the next six issues, I’ll be perfectly satisfied…