The Dark Knight and the heroes in a half shell come together for the fun ride that is “Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #1.
Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Freddie E. Williams II
DC Comics and IDW team up for the crossover you never saw coming as two of the greatest entertainment icons meet for the first time! In Gotham City, a series of deadly raids leads Batman to believe he’s up against a group of highly trained ninjas known as the Foot Clan! Somehow, they’ve crossed over to another dimension and are determined to take advantage of the situation while looking to get back home. But they haven’t come alone: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are hot on their trail. Get ready for excitement as heroes and villains from both worlds clash and team up in an epic battle that threatens the very fabric of reality!
Writer James Tynion IV, artist Freddie E. Williams II, and colorist Jeremy Colwell clearly had a blast creating this first issue of a miniseries that simply required the heroes name in the title to make an impact. It’s not so unlikely that Batman and the Turtles would team up one day. Besides one being inspired by a creature and the others being mutated creatures, these crime fighters also all rely on brains and brawn to battle their foes. In “Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #1, Tynion is able to balance the characters’ personalities within a setup issue that will serve as a pleasant diversion for fans of all these heroes. The issue flows smoothly, from Batcave to sewers to the streets of Gotham City. With the simple dilemma of the Turtles and the Foot Clan stuck in a different dimension than theirs, there are clearly many fun directions this story can go in its remaining five issues.
Tynion won’t be accused of simply writing this story as fan service. Although Batman and the Turtles will be recognizable, it’s because he obviously has a love for these characters. The supporting cast and cameos that are either seen or mentioned play important roles in the plot, with Tynion and the artistic team fully realizing a “turtles” out of water story. Tynion balances mystery, grittiness, and humor in a tale told on a grand scale. If this was a team-up film, the first act would look exactly like “Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #1. Batman’s personality and superior skills are on full display while each of the Turtles’ quirks are hinted at in naturally subtle (and usually humorous) ways.
Every page of Williams’ art is evocative in the way he expresses Batman and the Turtles’ otherworldly presence and strength. This is a larger-than-life story and, as such, requires what Williams brings to the issue. That includes splash pages with characters that feel like they are about to karate kick their way into our world. When we first see Batman, he looms menacingly yet protectively over a crime victim. His cartoonish large size is appropriate despite the unrealistic nature of his look. It just supports the idea of this being a fun, operatic superhero team-up. The Turtles’ first appearance is even more powerful, with four large panels giving equal time to the four ninja turtles. They are bathed in shadow, with Williams’ art giving them a palpable texture. This is just one example of the life he breathes into this book with his singular style. Credit for these panels’ power must also be credited to Colwell’s colors, which we’ll get to shortly.
Williams’ puts great care in his layouts, which can be evidenced during a scene in the Batcave. Here, and in other scenes, he puts detail in his work that can be difficult to see after just the first reading. I wasn’t as impressed with Williams’ work on “Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #1 until I had read it again and admired his choreography in both the small scenes and the ones of battle. However, there are very few moments where more detail in facial expression for the humans could have assisted certain scenes. Williams’ scenes with Batman are fun to look at, yet his portrayal of the Turtles are clearly given more attention. I bet many TMNT fans will want to see him on a regular Turtle book after reading this issue.Continued below
Colwell’s colors not only bring a vibrancy to the issue, but also an added attention to detail that transforms it into something more powerful because of his artistry. In the aforementioned scene with the four panels that introduce the Turtles, the red, blue, purple, and orange of the foursome highlight the respective Turtles and their trademark colors. The matching color shading of the background for each Turtle is also nicely done, with the four panels in a row beautiful enough to be framed. The depth and effect of Colwell’s palette imbues these relatively simple panels with dangerous and visceral qualities. Colwell does this throughout “Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #1 and melds that gritty real world feel and the ethereal in an effective way through his colors.
There will probably be those who will dismiss this book as a money grab or just for those diehard Batman and TMNT fans. They’ll be missing out on a good time. “Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #1 is not only a fun book (which is always a welcome thing) but is also a visual treat.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – The shadow of the Bat meets Turtle power in the fun opening salvo of what will hopefully turn out to be an epic joining of worlds.