Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is hands down one of the best most emotionally and storytelling satisfying books that are being published. No character or plotline or moment big or small is forgotten as the creative team works to make a truly lived-in and rich world for not only the Turtles but all the characters that have played a part in this series past and present. It is beyond clear on every single page how much every member of the creative unit behind this book cares about the characters and the world they are building.
There are a great many things that the current run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does spectacularly well, but chief among them is the ability to run the gamut of emotions while packing in enough story/character work for multiple issues all in 20 pages.
After giving us a heartfelt issue with the Turtle’s new guardian angel that also catapulted the plot forward, Sophie Campbell, Nelson Daniel, Ronda Pattison, and Shawn Lee kick things into a whole new gear with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #119. There are painful reunions, fun moments with Lita and the weasels that take a dark desperate turn, and the beginnings of a possible all-out war within the boundaries of Mutant Town.
Often with any type of storytelling where the action is a huge part of the process, said action can end up taking up a lot of the breathing room and sometimes not leave room for the character moments many fans crave. That’s not the case here. Campbell makes sure to never forget that these characters have deep relationships with one another and others and keeps pulling at plot threads from previous arcs and issues. It’s a super fleshed out and intricate world that just fills more and more lived in with each passing issue.
As stated with the last review, Daniel nailed the horror aspects of his first arc of the book (issues #106-108) and with this arc nails not only the action but the really fun stuff too. The pages with Lita and the Weasels being adorable ninjas are just really really cute and fun. Not a step is lost though when the pages shift from the more cute or fun stuff to the harder moments.
Such as the moment between Raphael and Casey Jones, who has been only seen very briefly since the new run began.
With those pages, Campbell wisely chooses to let Daniel and Pattison’s work do most of the talking to give us clues about what is happening with Casey that quickly sours the friend reunion. Rather than just having it being stated out loud, they are choosing to show up clues to let us the reader piece it together. There is not a single shred of doubt that this will be returned to before, as this issue saw a return of a number of plots or moments from recent stories, and then we’ll see if we were able to figure the puzzle out accurately.
It always bears repeating just how solid this creative team working relationship is with this book. Pattison and Lee nail it every single issue with the coloring and letters which allows the book to have a unified look to it no matter who the artist is. While the look changes whether it’s Campbell doing art or Daniel or others who have stepped in, Pattison’s colors keep a consistent look to the world and bring such light and darkness in just the right amounts for whatever the moment calls for.
Lee is the other end of that consistency as he brings the same level of energy to all the lettering, from dialogue to the SFX, not only in every issue of this book but a giant chunk of IDW’s Turtle content. It often can go overlooked or be harder to pin down than the contributions of color or art, but there is definitely a style to the work of Lee and other letterers that stands out. The great care and work that letterers do to add such an intricate part to comics needs to be celebrated far more than it often is.
Everything about this book just continues to click and fire on all cylinders, making it not only one of the best books around but a truly incredible time for the Turtles and their fans. It’s the type of awesome that makes you wish that a month would hurry up and pass so that the next issue will arrive.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #119 is now on sale in print and digitally from IDW Publishing.