Beware Of Invading Utroms: Reviewing ‘TMNT: The Armageddon Game’ #5

by Scott Redmond


‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Armageddon Game’ #5 moves closer to the endgame as more players unexpectedly enter the field and the carefully crafted plans of Rat King’s pieces begin to fall apart. Every bit of this event series continues to move so rapidly and smoothly in a very effective and intriguing way, never sacrificing character development or moments just to move the overall plot forward. A true example of how to tackle big event stories.


As all the pieces are converging on the playing field, the Rat King’s game moves ever closer to the next stage. While this fifth issue seems like a lot of setup at first glance, it’s actually a really meaty and meaningful issue that hits a point of rapid moments and character beats as the game hits a snag and everything changes.

It speaks to how seamlessly the creative teams involved with this event are working together because this issue and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #137 (check out that review here) are perfect companions to one another, one leading right into the other. In this issue, we see how Colonel Ch’Rell and their forces defeat General Krang (who goes a bit rogue from the plan of the Terrible Trio and Rat King) and begin their assault upon Mutant Town to find the Triceraton Regenta Seri. That invasion and the battle between the Utrom forces and Seri with the Splinter Clan at her side, as well as the arrival of Michelangelo and the Nova Posse, is detailed in the subsequent main TMNT series issue. While there are many that don’t like when tie-ins and the event title are a bit dependent upon one another in comics, I’m one of those that doesn’t mind, especially in the case of such a well-crafted and coordinated event like this.

Juggling all this stuff and doing every character and bit of the world justice appears to just be an easy task for Tom Waltz, it helps of course he spent most of a decade leading the way in crafting this version of the TMNT world. Even as we bounce through a ton of different characters and situations there is plenty of care put in so that they have moments and feel like something is coming of those moments, and interactions that are not only building where this event is going but, in some cases, fully build upon moments that came well before this event and that are still important for the characters beyond the pages of this event series.

Often when a long-running series/franchise drops references to things quite a bit in the past it can be off-putting or confusing to newer readers, but Waltz just slides them in so simply and matter-of-factly that it just enhances my desire to finally go back and read the TMNT series from the first issue up to the time point that I jumped on board (which was issue #101) as well as all the various one-shots and mini-series that filled in gaps along the way. Might have to make that a project this summer, since I already bought the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The IDW Collection volume a few years ago. Some great bedtime reading material all curled up reading the characters I’ve loved since I was a tiny child.

There is an almost tangible roughness that Vincenzo Federici and Alex Sanchez bring to the pages that compliment an art style that is so detailed and has a heft weight to it. These are spaces that feel lived in and fully real and the characters feel like emotive living beings that move through the spaces with purpose. Character moments or action pieces, all feels energized and powerful and have an impact thanks to the way they bring it to life. Many of the panel choices are done in a way that keeps us close up on the action and character beats, making it feel like we’re there on the ground with the characters experiencing these moments.

Enhancing all of that is the grounded and darker but also bright and shiny when they need to be, also with a bit of roughness, colors from Matt Herms and Heather Breckel. Inherently there is a darker tone to this story where villains are manipulating the world to turn on an entire section of marginalized people (the mutants) through faking terrorism and other elements, and the colors help reflect that and bring it out fully within the artwork. Plenty of shadows come into play to give that extra bit of darkness, mixed with the aforementioned side of a rougher sort of quality that matches that of the artwork. There are plenty of bright pops of vivid color though too since we’re dealing with a lot of fantastical, and in some cases unearthly, beings and forces which tend to be far more colorful and brighter even when they are villains or are dark in nature.

Feeling that darkness and every other bit of emotion or power is also something that needs to be felt in the way that letters/words are found on the pages which is what Shawn Lee can always make happen. There is a reason that Lee is tapped to tackle so many of these TMNT-related issues/titles, and it shows on the page every time. One can hear anger or joy or sadness or whatever else in any given bit of dialogue because Lee makes sure to make changes that will make the volume or tone of their voice so crystal clear. We can feel the conviction in voices as characters make choices and speak to or at other characters at the moment. There is a lot of dialogue and moments to bring to the page here but it’s never overwhelming on the page as Lee makes it all flow and fit and does what it can to make the pages come fully together.

As a lifelong TMNT fan, diving into the various series brings me so much joy because it’s so clear how much everyone involved loves these characters and their world. That love radiates off the pages and feels like wrapping oneself in the warmest comfiest beloved of blankets (I might be tired). Even when the battles are tough and the emotions are all over the place and the characters are facing the toughest of odds, they are heroes through and through and a family and I just love it all.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Armageddon Game #5 is now available from IDW Publishing.

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