‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Armageddon Game – The Alliance’ #1 works both as a great tie-in to the event and also something that can stand alone in a sense as it centers on Karai and the future of the Foot Clan. A dark, gorgeous, and powerful story that resonates with anyone that has found themselves in a place where they must decide whether to keep following or to step forward and take the actual lead.
Over the past decade, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe at IDW Publishing has expanded wider and wider bringing in a bevy of awesome characters always aching for more time in the spotlight. Thanks to TMNT: The Armageddon Game – The Alliance and the event as a whole, we’re getting to see a lot more of some specific characters.
As someone that didn’t start reading things in the universe till after the 100th issue of the main series, there are a lot of characters that I want to see more of every time they pop up. One of those is Karai who takes the spotlight in this issue and seems to be the throughline of this mini-series. Giving us an issue where she has to reckon with her place as the leader of the Foot Clan and what she needs to do, rather than remaining in the shadow of her ‘grandfather’ Oroku Saki/Shredder, in the midst of a giant crisis is a great call.
While I’m very familiar with the character overall, more so with the 2012 cartoon version, I have a lot of holes with the IDW version because I’m still working to catch up on TMNT stories from the past. Getting into her head here helps a lot and really shows a lot about who she is and what she wants, and why things have gone the way they have for her. Erik Burnham using dreams and reality to bring her to the revelations about herself is clever because it plays to her past and speaks to the present as well.
Also really dug having Karai pitted against the Turtle clones, and her being able to instantly know that they are fakes by their style as well as thinking how much of a disappointment they would be to the departed Splinter. Not only was it a cool fight, as she held her own against four foes still finding their way, but I liked that it was used as a way to sort of spark Karai into her plan to fix and move forward for the Foot Clan.
It’s a fight that is so smooth and kinetic, dancing across the pages thanks to the work of Roi Mercado which is dense and impactful. Mercado captures the overall detail of the world with a weight and power that makes it feel real. Tons of really great panel work going on here, especially some of the ones where it’s a full page with mini panels scattered across one big panel of Karai. And love love love where figures and items are just breaking the panel borders cause that’s always cool.
Most of the issue takes place at night in a lighted city and William Soares makes that feel authentic, bringing more of that aforementioned weight/depth to everything. Alongside the authenticity of the night, there are just a lot of powerful darker colors and shadows at play which speaks to the journey that Karai is on and the darker world that she inhabits regularly. Currently in a space that tips towards that darkness but not so far in that she can’t forge her own path in a different direction.
There are a lot of words to be displayed here from dialogue to captions and Shawn Lee, the Turtleverse veteran go-to letterer, makes it all flow and work. As always Lee captures volume and tone through big or small changes to the overall font and even the bubbles themselves, making it far more impactful. Dropping in some of those big bold utterances, my favorite are the ones where the words expand beyond or make the bubble conform to their shape, to hit home the fight and heightened emotions.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Armageddon Game – The Alliance #1 is now available from IDW Publishing.