Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #69 ComicWow! Review

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Kevin Eastman (along with Peter Laird) is famous as one of the Creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Tom Waltz wrote for TMNT, Galaxy Quest, Back to the Future, Zipper, KISS, Ghostbusters, Kill Shakespeare, Jurassic Park, and more.

Mateus Santolouco has a lot of art credits for IDW, Marvel, DC and more, including Fall of Cthulhu (Godwar, Nemisis, Apocalypse, the Gray Man), 2 Guns, X-Necrosha, Scream Queen, American Vampire, X-Force, The Revenant, Catwoman, Justice League of America and Justice Society – and more.

In a short summary, The Turtles and Mutanimals are being hunted by a paramilitary group called Darkwater.  These high-tech mercenaries are in the employ of a mutant-hating group called the EPF (Earth Protection Force).  In this issue, readers are finally given some deep background on the mysterious shadow group.  The Turtles and Mutanimals find themselves hunted and on the run. Only one of them sees a way out…

Although this comic is named for the Turtles, the real stars of this issue are Waltz and Eastman.  The writing in this issue—and this entire story arc—has been phenomenal. They are using this arc to play up the essential humanity of the Mutanimals, and they are doing so brilliantly.

This is particularly true of Hob, the Cat.  It is too easy to pigeonhole the feline mutant as an antagonist – a cartoon bad guy, a super-powered mutant mercenary with no sense of honor—powerful and cunning, yet defeated by our heroes in 24 minutes or 24 pages.

Eastman and Waltz are far smarter than that.  Since Chris Ryall created him, IDW has used this character brilliantly (see “Urban Legends” by Chris Mowry and Michael Dalinyas in TMNT Universe Vol 1 TP – also on sale this week).  He is trying to fight to protect mutants, but he is not IDW’s Magneto.  He is a local crime boss, but he is not Kingpin.

Hob is a tangled up puppet – he is tied down by strings that he cannot cut.  His anger and desire for payback pull him in one direction.  His fear of vulnerability, of letting down his guard, holds him back. Hob does not see the “bigger picture.”  He is not assembling a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with which to fight for a mutant homeland. His group of “Mighty Mutanimals” would be happy just sitting around eating carryout and watching TV.

Hob wants a family.  He has nothing else, no sense of mission or justice or purpose.  His overriding morality is loyalty.  He has nothing else – nothing left to lose. This makes him possibly the most dangerous of all the mutants. A man may fight for a cause, kill for it, even die for it, but -for his family- a man will commit acts of pure evil.

Other characters (Sally the Cat, Mondo Gekko, and even Agent Bishop) also get some good moments, but Hob owns this issue.

Santolouco’s artwork is outstanding.  For a comic that relies so heavily on anthropomorphic animals, he manages to bring a sense of realism and great characterization to them.

Some years ago, there was a TMNT miniseries on the Mutanimals – it was published as a trade paperback.  Readers who remember and appreciated that story arc will be similarly enthralled by this.

Written by: Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman

Illustrated by: Mateus Santolouco