War is hell. Except when it’s between a weird living mush pile housed in a giant robot, his heavily armed men, a small band of alien resistance fighters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then war is fun. TMNT #20 is the culmination of the battle against Krang for the freedom of the Neutrino people from Dimension X. The Turtles and their allies are up against the wall as laser blasts and unstoppable robot monsters rain down on them.
The opening line for TMNT #20 is “Waste ‘Em All,” and that pretty much sums it up. After twenty issues of setting the scene, constructing characters and opening up story arcs, writers Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz (who penned the actual script) have been allowed to unleash. The Turtles and the army of the Neutrino people are going as hard as they can at Krang and his mercenaries. While the sheer amount of action alone could have carried issue #20, Eastman and Waltz have managed to work a solid plot through all the gunfire.
While his three brothers use every ninja technique they have to take on the Krang forces, Donatello remains with the Professor, a once-human scientist from our world who helped in the creation of the Turtles. Upon returning to his home planet of Neutrino, the professor evolved back to his natural state as a robot. Working together, Donatello and the Professor are trying to finish building the End Missile, a weapon that could end the conflict with Krang.
Meanwhile, back in our world, Shredder’s niece, who is on the outs with her uncle for failing to kill Splinter, manages to steal one of the Krang-like baby brains being held on Burnow Island. The rest of issue #20 is the war. Swords fly, lasers fire, machines topple and finally, with the help of the End Missile, Krang is driven out of Dimension X. Probably not forever, but for now. The Turtles are sent back to our world for a teary reunion with Casey, April and Splinter. Where TMNT goes next is anybody’s guess, but Eastman and Waltz have left plenty of paths open.
Ben Bates art is decent enough but it never strays from a look that’s becoming standard within companies like IDW and Dynamite. It’s a cartoon hybrid, something born of Manga, America computer animation and children’s comics. The work is not bad as much as it is uninteresting. Bates has a solid way with action and movement. The war here is very exciting to read. However his characters are uninteresting to look at and often seem like amalgamations of any number of other sources. Working within this restrained avenue, Ronda Pattison’s colors are effective, but nothing that really pops off the page.
Lazy art aside, TMNT continues to be one of the best comics on the shelves today.
(4 Story, 2.5 Art)