TMNT Macro-Series: Raphael Is Like Weapon X…Turtle Style

by James Ferguson

The Macro-Series finally reaches my favorite Ninja Turtle, Raphael. Captured by Agent Bishop and the Earth Protection Force, Raph is forced through a series of experiments that take him through his memories in a trippy and violent fashion. Casey Jones, Angel, and Alopex are working to save their friend, but will he be the same after coming out of this?

There’s a definite Weapon X vibe to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Macro-Series: Raphael. There are a number of sequences that are very reminiscent of Logan’s time as a guinea pig over in the Marvel Universe, complete with fragmented memories and a battle in the snow with Raphael flying into a berserker rage with all sorts of wires and metal hanging off him.
Raph is not his usual self in these sequences. He’s a mindless killing machine, fighting anyone and everyone that comes close to him. Colorist Tomi Varga hammers this feeling home with Raphael’s glowing red eyes that stand out against his green skin and the cool whites and blues of the snowy setting.

The EPF is painted as a cold, emotionless organization and this really comes through in Varga’s colors. They’re full of military greys and blacks. This plays into the overall look and feel of their uniforms and vehicles. While you may see some of their faces, they’re far from human in their empathy. Artist Ben Bishop creates the perfect villains for Raph’s rage.
The scenes of Raphael in the lab contrast with his own memories. Bishop goes from these torturous sequences to moments of peace. Granted, Raph had a troubling beginning when he first achieved sentience as he was separated from his brothers. He grew up practically alone on the streets, living off of the kindness of others. This helped shape him into the gruff person he is today, but it also gave him a sense of honor.

The more action-packed scenes have a blurred effect, like the intense heat coming off of the explosions is altering your vision of the image. This is used sparingly, but very well, adding just the right amount of extra tension to the book.
There’s some pitch perfect sound effect placement from letterer Shawn Lee, particularly in the shots of Raph getting experimented on. This comes at a great time as the torture is reaching a head and you can tell that the Turtle is about to break free. Wires and tubes are starting to snap with these awesome, jagged fonts that only add to the scene.

Any Raphael is good for me, but this oversized one-shot is chock full of my favorite Ninja Turtle. Writers Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz gave some valuable perspective with Raph and that’s something we definitely got from all the spotlights on the other characters. There was a lot more room to explore what makes them tick that we’re not going to get in the regular ongoing series. If you’re going to do extra issues or spin-offs, this is exactly the kind of stuff that should be done.  It’s not another story just to do one. This matters.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Macro-Series: Raphael from IDW Publishing is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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