By James Tynion IV, Freddie E Williams II & Jeremy Colwell
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is practically the holy grail of crossover events (for me at least). Two of the biggest pop culture properties in history finally coming together for the first time is absolutely a big deal and deserves care and attention! James Tynion IV, Freddie E Williams II, and Jeremy Colwell had their work cut out for them. The premise of their story is that the Ninja Turtles have somehow arrived in Gotham City along with the Foot in tow. Batman becomes involved when a series of thefts from various technology companies start occurring. As he encounters ninja warriors, he hears word of other creatures in his city. . .
Tynion IV is no stranger to the Dark Knight; he did just write the Batman annual for this year, which was very good. It’s one thing to have a grasp on writing Batman, but the Ninja Turtles are a whole other ball game. IDW has established a fantastic iteration of the reptilian brothers, so to have someone who hasn’t played with these characters is a bit disconcerting. What’s actually surprising is that James writes the turtles fairly well. It’s clear to tell he’s a fan of the Ninja Turtles with a scene that calls to mind the original live-action film from 1990; it was a very nice touch. One sequence, though, between Bruce and Alfred just seems off; key parts of their dialogue are just out of character. Also, there are places within the comic where the dialogue/narration is redundant and just spoon-feeding the readers.
This is the first issue, so exposition is expected. The reveal of the turtles by Williams II and Colwell was perfect. Each of them had their color-coded panel lighting them in silhouette. Batman’s first appearance was a bit less attractive; he was just there…on the splash page. The story in this issue was interesting, but it wasn’t enthralling, which it should be considering the titular characters involved. Tynion IV did make the Ninja Turtles mesh well within the context of Gotham, but it seemed that took precedence over capturing the emotion and awe that these two worlds are capable of.
The artwork may take a little time to become accustomed to. It’s not bad by any means, just different. Freddie and Jeremy have a light, impressionistic style to their work. It seems to capture the Turtles and their fights beautifully, but the real dreariness of Gotham City isn’t quite there. Also, the design of the batsuit appears to be influenced from the Arkham video games, but not as detailed. These two should be given a crack at TMNT over at IDW!
Overall, this comic feels uneven and a bit of a letdown, but perhaps this is due to my own high expectations. Batman and Gotham were shortchanged and this was very much a highlight for the Ninja Turtles, so fans of those characters will be happy. Enthusiasts of either franchise should give this first issue a shot, but just have expectations managed. Hopefully the next book will step-up to the plate.