Matthew K Manning has written for both Batman and the TMNT. In addition, he has written for Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, Justice League Adventures, Spider Man, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, and more.
Jon Sommariva has done art for Darkstalkers Tribute, Star Wars Tales, Angry Birds, Free Realms, TMNT, Go Boy 7, Gemini, and more. He was the illustrator for the amazing Rexodus –one of the truly greatest comics you’ve never heard of, but need to read.
This penultimate issue of a miniseries bears a unique place in the structure. It is important to bring all of the pieces together in such a way as to set up the final issue to wrap up all of the various story threads and subplots into a nice, clean ending. This does not mean winding things down; it means ramping up the pace and setting things up for a BIG FINISH.
This is what they are doing here. Manning is bringing everything together at a really fast pace. He is bringing in a lot of action and plot twists (Donatello interested in Batgirl, rivalry between Raphael and Robin, etc.), bringing the Turtles up against Scarecrow, and saving a big plot twist about the nature of the portals between the realities for the end of the issue.
Manning’s experience with both franchises is vital here. It is interesting because this take on the Turtles is one of the lighter ones, while this version of Batman (Batman: The Animated Series) is one of the darker views of the Dark Knight. Bringing them together allows for some fascinating contrasts. The Donatello/Batgirl story thread is delightful, but it is doubtful if it would work in the Batman 66 universe. Manning’s take on the Joker/Shredder interaction is spot on. It clearly shows that he has a great grasp on the two biggest villains in these franchises.
Sommariva’s art clearly strikes a balance between the two animated franchises, but he clearly allows the tone of the panel/page to ‘sway the balance.’ In scenes where the Turtles are hallucinating from Scarecrows gas, the imagery clearly comes from Batman, but when Batgirl, April O’ Neil, Leonardo, Raphael and Robin are having light banter while fighting a bunch of Jokerized Footbots, the art is much lighter and more Turtle-ish.
One of the big problems with a mash-up like this is making sure that it does not favor one franchise over the other. This is not the Green Lantern/Guardians situation, where they are foreign elements introduced into other universes (GL/Star Trek, GL/Planet of the Apes). Both of those are fine comics, but the creative teams made a conscious decision in both cases based on the Blackest Night/Brightest Day scenarios.
In this case, the Batman characters are in the Turtle universe, but it is clear that both franchises are equal partners.
The next issue promises to be outstanding.
Written by: Matthew K. Manning
Illustrated by: Jon Sommariva