Ah, crossover comics. Whether it’s Green Lantern teaming up with the crew of the Starship Enterprise, Avengers living through “Attack on Titan,” or Archie being hunted down by a Predator, they provide a wondrous “what-if” for comic readers. Now, thanks to IDW and DC, Batman is teaming up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… again.
Written by Matthew K. Manning
Illustrated by Jon Sommariva
When villains start to mysteriously escape Arkham, Batman seeks to track them down. What happens when he discovers that they have left Gotham completely… and entered the TMNT’s New York City?
Yes, this is the second time Batman and the heroes on the half-shell have teamed up. While the first one saw the turtles and their villains pulled into Gotham City, this time it’s the reverse, with Batman and his foes finding their way into the TMNT world.
Of particular note are the exact series the characters are coming from; Batman and all his supporting cast are using designs reminiscent of Batman: The Animated Series, while the TMNT characters use their designs from the ongoing CGI animated series.
Jon Sommariva does a fine job of integrating the two styles into his art, making them blend as well as possible without entirely compromising one or the other. Perhaps most importantly, it gives us a clear idea of exactly what kind of tone we can expect from this comic, a tone that’s captured and carried throughout the issue, whether we’re in Gotham or New York.
Of course, the mood is also helped greatly by the dialogue and narration alike. Every character is introduced with a moment that’s completely telling for their character, from Michelangelo’s attempt at a dramatic entrance to Alfred’s calm wit. Accompanying their introductions are little narrations giving us amusing little notes about them, such as Leonardo being “not exactly happy at the moment,” followed shortly by Batman, who is “less happy than Leonardo.”
But what links both Batman and the TMNT is their use of darkness and shadows, which the comic uses to its full advantage. The opening uses a brilliant misdirect, utilizing the heroes lurking in shadows to its fullest effect in both action and comedy.
Meanwhile, Batman has a short fight scene (though I hesitate to call it a fight, considering how easily he defeats his foes) where we see him kicking and punching at the darkness, with nothing but impact spots to show his blows are landing. We don’t see his foes until they stumble into the light, already beaten and about to collapse. It’s a very well executed scene, illustrated very nicely.
The two sides of the story, with Batman on one end and the turtles on the other, progress simultaneously at a good pace. Everyone gets their introduction, their moments of action to show off their skills, and their moments of downtime to humanize them. They both follow trails of clues that will eventually lead them together, and as readers, we can begin to connect the dots as the characters discover them.
Of course, there’s the action to be considered as well. In addition to the aforementioned scene where Batman defeats goons in the darkness, we also get to see the turtles in action as a team. Their foe is not one they’ve ever encountered before, but one readers may be familiar with, so we get to see them adapt to an unfamiliar enemy, learn its weaknesses, and find a way to win, all while learning little hints about what’s to come.
Speaking of villains, we see a few this issue, although Two-Face is the one that gets perhaps the most focus. As with his animated series style, everything he has is split in two; his lair is half clean and half wrecked; half his jail cell is covered in dust, the other is impeccable. In fact, the hideout he’s in is even painted in such a way that the two different halves blend and bounce off each other very nicely, and there’s a great touch where he’s watching two televisions at once, one showing the grim and depressing news of the day, the other showing, well, a cartoon about ponies. Yet he and all the other villains who show up are characterized perfectly, and every character was written with a clear voice that matched their animated equivalent’s.Continued below
In all honesty, I was not expecting to like this comic as much as I did. Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossing over again? Why? What could they do with the characters meeting that they didn’t already do? But this is a different style of Batman, and a different kind of TMNT, so there’s new dynamics to explore and new material to use. And to my joyous surprise, it works!
Admittedly, how well it works may depend on how much you like both series; anyone not a fan of the TMNT cartoon may not be as into it as they were the previous crossover, but there’s a consistency to the soul and personality of the characters that remains no matter what adaptation they’re in. I’d say the same for this version of Batman, but honestly, I have yet to meet a Batman fan who didn’t like The Animated Series, though I suppose they do exist.
Do not go into this series expecting a gritty crossover that tests the moral limits of the characters, or asks big questions about the nature of the universe and one’s suspension of disbelief. You can always look up a near-infinite number of fan fics if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you go into this comic looking for some solid writing with good one-liners and a strong voice, good artwork that blends the cartoon styles together, and some fun action scenes that keep you amused, give it a look. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Final Verdict: 8.3 – Very strong for everything it is. Good characterization, pacing, and artwork, while clearly differentiating itself from the previous Batman/TMNT crossover.