Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #51
By Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz, Ken Garing, Ronda Pattison, & Shawn Lee
Well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is now entering new territory. The literally game-changing events of issue #50 left the turtle family heading into uncharted territory sans Michelangelo. Splinter now assumes his new role as leader of the Foot Clan to try to maintain order in the city. The clan clashes with other gangs trying to rise up after the Foot was rumored to have been defeated. With the heroes in the half-shell still adjusting to this new way of life, a potential big player in the underworld comes into play…
Without a doubt, this was a highly anticipated book. There are so many directions this title can go down after such an amazing milestone issue. With so much to recover from and letting everything sink in, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz focus on how the family is handling all these changes, just as readers are. It builds a nice bond between the story and the audience, which this writing team does so well. Seeing how the turtles and Splinter are trying consciously not to follow in Shredder’s shadow, but realizing it’s tougher than it seems, is a fascinating exploration that will no doubt bear intense fruit down the line.
Newcomer Ken Garing joins the book with this issue. His designs for the amphibious brothers seem to be very much inspired by the live-action film versions. Even in the close-up panels when they speak, their mouths look like how they did in the movies. It’s a style that takes some time to acclimate to, but it can grow on the reader. Considering that the majority of the story is set at night, the use of shadows and shading is prominent in this book, which sets the necessary ominous tone of the material. Special recognition needs to be paid to Ronda Pattison, who has been the colorist for this title for its entire run so far of 51 issues! Same for letterer Shawn Lee. They have done and continue to do wonderful work and do the legacy of TMNT proud.
Despite this being a new arc, it is not recommended that the casual reader try to jump on. Now, some may want to and it’s certainly hard to be against newcomers trying to enjoy this brilliant series, but going back and reading the past trades will definitely provide the necessary context. This issue establishes the new status quo in strikingly good fashion. It’s exciting to see where the next 50 issues will go now.