In an almost unbelievable turn of events, Batman/TMNT has been one of the best series’ currently available from either of the two main comic companies. It has blended fan service with a genuinely engaging plotline to provide entertainment to the entirety of its audience. Has that near perfect balance been continued with this forth issue?
So by this point in the series the stakes have been clearly set and the story established. All that remains is to make the journey to the conclusion as entertaining as possible. The best way to do that? Bring in some more familiar faces. That is exactly what was done here.
The first of these came in the disturbing form of The Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. He was introduced as an inmate of Arkham Asylum and it is quite clear that his rehabilitation has not been going according to plan. The mere thought of the most iconic rogue in Batman’s gallery coming up against The Turtles and possibly even Shredder is as tantilising as it gets. The best thing is that Tynion has not shied away from injecting the more violent elements of Bats’ world into this story so Joker is unlikely to be all that toned down when he does make his grand entrance into the story proper.
The second beloved character to make a late entrance into the story was Casey Jones. He found his way over from The Turtles world in an effort to save his friends and deliver them the mutagen they so desperately need. Despite being only partially successful and allowing the mutagen to slip into the hands of Shredder and his new buddy Ra’s Al Ghul (more on that in a minute) he still provides hope for his partners as they slip ever closer back to their non-mutated forms. Also, who doesn’t want to see him try to fight Joker with a hockey stick?
One thing that this book got very right was the time it spent on building more of a dynamic between the characters. Each new relationship had had some maturation but none of them were as established as they would need to be for the story to work as best it could. The smartest thing that Tynion did with regards to Batman and The Turtles was to have Raphael rebel against his cowl wearing partner. It stands to reason that, when staring death in the face, at least one of these happy go lucky creatures would snap and grow tired of the planning and maneuvering. He made it clear that he did not trust the weirdo in the cave and was going to take matters into his own hands.
This actually held the potential to derail as the series as time would have been needlessly dedicated to a melodramatic side story but as it was, Tynion managed to do the right thing and sort out the quarrel in an elegant and timely manner. Having Batman reveal a little of his true self to Raphael via a visit to crime alley allowed trust to be built between the two and for Batman to take on a slightly weightier role as until now he has seemed largely detached from proceedings.
The other relationship, as was previously mentioned, was between Shredder and Ra’s Al Ghul. When you think about it, there is no better counterpart to Shredder in the entire Batman universe. Where Shredder has The Foot Clan, Ra’s has The League of Assassins. Both are highly skilled martial artists who do not back down unless it strategically necessary. Both have a problem with pesky animals, or animal themed heroes at the very least. It was only introduced as a pairing at the end of last month’s issue but here it was given a chance to develop in a meaningful way. Sure, it wasn’t given quite enough time but it became clear that the two leaders were up to something big that would have serious ramifications for anyone who got caught up in it. The promise is there for a great deal of carnage at their hands and it should make for an even more explosive finale that people were already braced for.
If there is to be one criticism of this comic it would be that it was very light in the way of action. This isn’t always a problem, on the contrary it can often be quite refreshing, but here it seemed a little odd as the more cartoony nature of such a crossover would demand a little more in the way of excitement. Still, it didn’t hinder the book too much but it wasn’t as good as previous installments simply due to this fact.
Every month a ton of praise is heaped upon the art in this book so instead of repeating what has already been said it may be of more value to show you an example of this excellent work.
Really, it should be of no surprise to anyone that this was yet another fantastic entry into this series. The lack of action did present a problem but it was nothing that the top notch storytelling couldn’t overcome. The concluding two issues should be epic in scale and satisfy even the most negative of readers.
Score: 4 out of 5.
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