TMNT #88 Brought A Tear To My Eye

by James Ferguson

The Earth Protection Force has invaded Burnow Island just as the Utroms and Triceratons have created a truce. Agent Bishop is determined to rid the world of these alien threats once and for all and he’s brought a mind-controlled Slash to ensure that he gets the job done. The Ninja Turtles and the Mutanimals are on hand to try to save their friend and stop Bishop in his tracks.

Slash has been under Bishop’s control for some time now so this rescue has been months in the making. This huge beast of a mutant has a good heart, so it’s a shame that he’s been used for such horrendous violence. I don’t want to spoil the specifics of this issue, but I will point out how powerful it is. Writer Tom Waltz pulls you through a range of emotions, going from joy to anger to sadness.
The events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #88 are rather unexpected. It’s like life in that regard because sometimes horrible things can happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. Wow. That was really depressing. What I mean is that this isn’t some fairy tale. These characters are in the middle of a war and they’re fighting for their lives as well as the lives of every other mutant and alien that the EPF might come into contact with.

Artist Dave Wachter captures all this in exquisite detail. He has become the premiere Ninja Turtles artist with his run on this book, taking us through that roller coaster of emotion I mentioned earlier. You witness the highest highs as the Turtles and Mutanimals fight back hordes of EPF troops and the lowest lows when they’re hit with a personal attack they can’t just walk away from. It might be strange to say that you feel such humanity from a mutant turtle, but that’s definitely there.
Wachter’s depiction of Slash is especially on point. You can tell when the mind control starts to weaken as Slash goes from a hulking, mindless monster to a confused, humble creature. His shoulders slump down a little. He has a look of shock in his eye. Letterer Shawn Lee adds to this, changing Slash’s word balloons from black with white lettering to white with black lettering. There’s a nice shot where they fade from one to the other.

Colorist Ronda Pattison never lets you forget that this is war. The sky is filled with angry reds and browns, as if it’s being set aflame. There’s no room for hope on this battlefield, especially today. This contrasts well with the flashback scene to Bishop’s origin from 1975 where the sun shines brightly.
Bishop’s beginnings are finally revealed and they’re in line with what I thought they’d be from the last issue. This doesn’t take away from their chilling details. If he wasn’t such a horrible person, you’d almost feel sorry for the guy. He was dealt a bad hand in life and that led to him hating the world and everyone that’s different. The same could be said for the Ninja Turtles, but they’ve turned out better. It’s could just be a matter of perspective.

I will admit that I wasn’t crazy about this storyline when it started, but it more than made up for it with this issue. I’ve loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for as long as I can remember, but this was the first time it brought a tear to my eye. The events of this issue serve as the catalyst for what will come in next year’s issue #100. If this is what we can expect from it, I cannot wait.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #88 from IDW Publishing is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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