Silent Night, Turtley Night: Reviewing ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #124

by Scott Redmond


Holidays are a joyous but also bittersweet time, and no one knows that more than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their allies. Every issue of this series does something truly special, delivering a fully fleshed-out character-heavy and emotionally deep world, and this issue takes that a step further. A remarkable issue full of emotional highs and lows that proves this creative team can truly achieve anything.


It’s often said that silence is golden, the idea being the less said the better in some respects. With comics, and most storytelling, this isn’t usually the case as the age of silent films, and such faded quite some time ago and there isn’t a lot of looking backward in that regard.

Every so often though there is a piece of media that experiments with the idea of just letting the visuals tell a story. This isn’t something that one can just do right off the bat. It’s the type of experience that needs to come once the audience not only deeply knows the characters and world but fully trusts those who are crafting the story.

Silence has fallen upon the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with their latest issue, and it is a perfect example of when silence truly is golden.

With the Turtles comes an implicit knowledge and familiarity born out of many decades as pop culture figures. At the same time, this silent story heavily works because of the work that Sophie Campbell, Ronda Pattison, Shawn Lee, their editor Bobby Curnow, and various artists including Jodie Nishijima and Nelson Daniel among others have accomplished in the last almost two years. Of course, some of this crew’s impact on this universe goes back even further, all the way back to the very beginning.

While Lee isn’t part of this particular issue, since there is no dialogue or SFX or captions to be found on any page, Campbell and Pattison are still here as they are joined by artist Ken Garing.

The weasels are missing, we the reader know they are back with their Old Hob who they see as their father, and the Splinter Clan and their allies are out in full force looking for their lost wards. Winter holidays are often portrayed as a happy joyous time, but they are also a time of sadness and a time of reflection. Every bit of this story is carried by the visuals and our knowledge of who these characters are and how they react to things.

Campbell’s consistent decision to focus on characters, both through bigger arcs and even single stories, has wonderfully brought us to this point.

Truly the greatest tool this issue wields is emotion, which radiates off the page. Not just the emotions of the characters, as they struggle with this current loss but also losses from their past they are still processing, but our emotional connection to those characters as well. From our joy at seeing the characters all together, to our sadness at their pain, anger at what they have lost, and so much more. The best stories are the ones that aren’t just a journey for the characters, but for the audience as well.

Interestingly enough without knowing this issue was coming, my review for the last issue alluded to the fact that this book has such a strong foundation that just looking at the visuals tells you everything you need to know about these characters. And in comes this issue to prove that point big time.

Without the words that storytelling falls heavier upon the shoulders of Garing and Pattison, which clearly is not a problem at all. Garing’s style is different in many regards to what the book has had under Nishijima and Daniel and the arcs that Campbell has done but has exactly the same character and emotional depth at its core. Selling a story like this needs to have the emotional moments landing and Garing accomplishes that easily as the body language and facial expressions of these characters tell us everything, we need to know about how they are feeling and what is happening in the story.

As noted above some ties to this series go back to the very beginning, and one of those would be Pattison. No matter who is handling the art duties, her colors fit their work like a well-fitted glove. More often than not they mix bright colors and shadows exceptionally well, helping give this world quite a bit of pop. Here though while there is some lightness to be found, the light portions are muted somewhat with heavier shadows to match the overall tone of the story. In a way, there is a feeling of heaviness added with these colors, which matches the book’s story, almost like that proverbial weight upon one’s shoulders.

At the same time, as the character’s own weights are lifted, and joy and acceptance are found some of that heaviness also washes away from the art. The brights get just a tad brighter and the shadows retreat a bit. They’re still there but don’t feel as heavy or ominous as they did at the beginning.

No matter what shape this book takes each month it is truly a delight, continuing to cement its place as one of the best comic books out there.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #124 is now on sale in print and digitally from IDW Publishing.

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