This week’s lead review for Wednesday Comics is a halftime report for the TMNT Armageddon Game event. In addition, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finales and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!
TMNT ARMAGEDDON GAME #5
Writer: Tom Waltz
Artist: Vincenzo Federici
Inker: Alex Sanchez
Colorist: Matt Herms and Heather Breckel
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Sophie Campbell
Artist: Fero Pe
Colorist: Ronda Pattinson
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Publisher: IDW Publishing
We’ve reached halftime in the first major Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles event since series-launching writer Tom Waltz left the book after 100 issues. This week sees the release of TMNT Armageddon Game #5 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #137. It’s been fascinating to see how a returning Waltz builds on Sophie Campbell’s work on the title, which saw a major shift in the Turtles’ traditional status quo. Campbell’s smaller scale run focused on fleshing out the characters and their personal relationships and llowed the heroes to experience something of a normal life as teenagers in the new Mutant Town.
Campbell’s introspective approach grounds Waltz’s dimensions-spanning, world-ending scope. That has been especially important with the main cast spread out across their own individual adventures. The divergent plot threads have been occasionally difficult to keep track of, with both the event miniseries and main title constantly bouncing across stories. This week we finally see some of these threads reconverge, which hopefully reigns in the focus moving forward.
Despite the sometimes too-broad scope, this event has been a thrilling celebration of the entire history of the Turtles franchise. Most of all it’s been true to the spirit of the original Mirage Comics. Recent issues have been brutal, with genuinely shocking moments that do not shy away from violence or the consequences thereof. But that action is rooted in high stakes and character conflict , so it never feels cheap or unearned. Armageddon Game sees the TMNT stepping into a position of leadership and responsibility and all the baggage that comes with it.
This midpoint not only reunites the Turtles after several months, but it sees a momentous and shocking status quo change. Waltz should be commended for his lack of preciousness for beloved elements of the franchise. It’s always been a hallmark of IDW’s TMNT but this is one of the most surprising creative decisions in the book’s history.
Of course, this event would be nothing without its artists, particularly Vincenzo Federici who provides pencils for the TMNT Armageddon Game miniseries. His action is dynamic and thrilling, and he gives the Turtles a youthful build and way of carrying themselves. It makes for a stark contrast against the dangers they face. The colors from Matt Herms are also a bit rougher and more textured compared to main series’ longtime colorist Ronda Pattison, whose work is much more vibrant. Fero Pe’s lineart on the main TMNT title is less gritty and a bit more cartoony, fitting for its primary focus on Mutant Town. Shawn Lee’s letters on both titles offer inventive and eye catching experimentation with word balloons and sound effects.
As it wraps up years of long-simmering plot threads, Armageddon Game is probably not for readers dipping their toe into the Ninja Turtles’ world for the first time. But it’s a satisfying read that builds on longform serial storytelling and continues the IDW series’ trend of consistent quality. Its bold storytelling, particularly in the confines of a lucrative franchise, should be applauded.
Wednesday Comics Reviews Quick Hits
- 3Keys #5 (Image Comics): A stylish whip-crack of a comic, 3Keys reaches its finale this week, and it is absolutely action-packed. As always, the proceedings are guided by writer/artist David Messina, a talented storyteller who is not afraid to blend ideas and inspirations. Indeed, this series touches on comic book retail, geek culture, New York institutions, imaginary friends, and epic battles with big giant swords. It all adds up to a story that feels singular and fun and absurdly well-polished, given how clean Messina’s linework is from panel to panel. Providing color assists is Alessandra Alexakis and letters is Shawn Lee. –Zack Quaintance.
- A Foulness in the Walls #1 (AfterShock Comics): Trying to come to terms with the loss of his mother, George relocates hoping the move will mark the beginning of a new chapter in his life. But residual physic trauma proves more stubborn to remove than he’d anticipated and George quickly begins to lose sleep as he attempts to locate the source of a foul smelling odour in his new home. A short sharp shock of a one-shot story, driven by mounting paranoia, delusions, and unprocessed grief, colourist Lorenzo Scaramella excels in conveying dingy interiors, torpid nocturnal heat, and the titular foulness that mysteriously pervades George’s dilapidated home and heart. With ques from Lovecraft and Poe, the book is a visceral and sensory treat – comics have never smelled so bad! This one was written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Rodrigo Zayas, and letters by Dave Sharpe. –Eoin Rogers
- Chilling Adventures Presents Betty The Final Girl #1 (Archie Comics): While the horror genre incarnations of certain Archie Comics characters may have achieved a similar degree of popularity as their “original flavor” counterparts, Betty has been largely consigned to supporting roles. In part, this is because many creators seem at a loss as to how to define her character (as contrasted with the easily characterized Veronica, star of the multi-run Vampironica, or Jughead, star of Jughead: The Hunger). In the newest Archie Horror one-shot, the enigmatic and possibly hidden nature of Betty’s true nature is foregrounded in “Rosemary’s Babysitter” by Micol Ostow, Laura Braga, Ellie Wright, and Jack Morelli. The way the frame story eventually bled into this third and final story was a clever way of showing that, behind her mask, Betty might not be who you initially suspect her to be. I also appreciated that this story was set at an Overlook Hotel doppelgänger. The two other stories in this mini-anthology focus on different characters. In “Be Mine or Die” by Casey Gilly, Carola Borelli, Wright, and Morelli, some obscure Riverdale characters get the spotlight, using a final panel for an ending that aims to subvert expectations. Meanwhile, in “Melody’s Next” by Sam Maggs, Natalie Nardozza, Matt Herms, and Morelli, the drummer for Josey and the Pussycats stumbles her way through a bloody on-stage confrontation. This proves to be a clever use of the character’s core personality, and it ends with a great punchline. After the stories comes a full-page ad for Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe of Horrors, another Archie Horror one-shot. I’d like to see another ongoing Archie Horror title added to the roster, but these horrific one-shots have been a lot of fun, and I’m already hungry to see what gory delights are on the menu at Pop’s next month.–Avery Kaplan
- Dead Lucky #6 (Image Comics): The Dead Lucky #6 sees the Massive-verse title reaching the end of its first explosive story arc, where it looks like nothing will be the same for Bibi going forward. Writer Melissa Flores’ has so far used The Dead Lucky to tell an amazing story about the rise of corporate overreach, gentrification, and combat veteran care that not only makes it stand out in the Massive-verse line, but in comics overall. With art, colors, and letters from French Carlomagno, Mattia Iacono, and Becca Carey respectively, the book is a cyberpunk-inspired art piece where letters complement art, which complement the colors they accompany. It’s an important issue of an important book with an important message to convey to readers. Until the book returns in June, we await further orders. –Bryan Reheil
- The Last Barbarians #1 (Image Comics – Shadowline): Someone on the creative team may have had a bad experience playing a multi-class character in their tabletop RPG days. It’s understandable; splitting XP two or three ways is a pain. So is having a character who may have numerous talents but is mediocre at them all. In the premiere of the Image/Shadowline ongoing series, being a little good at a lot of things gets you blacklisted by the powerful Guilds. In truth, denied gainful employment is only part of the price adventurer Sylv pays for being versatile. Shunned is a better descriptor, as word travels that she and her disabled brother, Shadow, have been deemed Classless. The label negatively impacts every area of their lives. Times are tough, favors used up, and yet Sylv’s wary when opportunity knocks. Joining a sketchy cleric’s quest is better than starving, though, right? Writers Brian Haberlin and Hannah Wall provide a high fantasy opener that the modern workforce can identify with. Though Sylv’s world has magical beasts and charms, the labor pressures, economic uncertainty, and desperation she and Shadow face feel familiar. Her frustration and anger with unenviable fortune even more so. Haberlin’s art is bold and breathtaking in birthing this fantasy world, including one freaky, nightmare-fuel familiar. Fine moments of empathy and humor along with a compelling backstory mystery will place The Last Barbarians on your regular pull list. It may even have you revaluating those multi-class characters. The book also features colors by Geirrod Van Dyke and letters by Francis Takenaga. –Clyde Hall
- Masters of the Universe – Masterverse #1 (Dark Horse Comics): Masters of the Universe – Masterverse #1 is a neat and easily accessible establishment of the premise for this series. It is functionally a multiverse story but anthological in nature as it takes what we know about Eternia and the conflicts between He-Man and Skeletor and recontextualizes them in new and interesting ways, illustrating the constant force for good that He-Man is across the multiverse. This first issue sees three creative teams tackle the three stories written by Tim Seeley with art by Eddie Nunez, Kelley Jones, Sergio Aragones, colors by Rico Renzi and Brennan Wagner, with Deron Bennet’s lettering. –Khalid Johnson
- Torrent #1 (Image Comics): Torrent is a great inversion of what is expected from the start of a traditional superhero story. From the top of the issue, writer Marc Guggenheim’s script prepares us for a gritty, nasty arc, foreshadowing the darkness to come in the life of Michelle Metcalf, aka Crackerjack. And yet, when we flashback to the leadup to that horror, we’re still genuinely worried about each page turn, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Justin Greenwood’s line art really sells this, as his partnership with Rico Renzi on colors harkens back to a style straight out of the Bronze Age. There’s some fantastic contrast in the colors between panels on the first page alone, and that back and forth kept me engrossed through the entire issue. The lettering and sound effects are superb as well. Keith Wood does a great job of varying fonts and case size for emphasis, while also giving our main characters their own unique title fonts during their introductions (I love when comics do that). Those characters, along with the villains and supporting cast, are fleshed out in a way that makes us really feel for what happens to them, and leaves me waiting to see what could possibly happen next. –Cy Beltran
Read more entries in the Wednesday Comics reviews series!
Wednesday Comics is edited by Zack Quaintance.
Keith Wood does a wonderful job of highlighting essential points by varying typefaces and case size, and he also gives each of our main characters a unique title font to use in their introductions.
Comments are closed.