Writer James Tynion IV crafts fast-moving parallel storylines for this first issue of the six-part Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, one in the Turtles’ New York and the other in Batman’s Gotham City. Although pursuing different objectives, the well-paced stories successfully establish the similarities of the heroes themselves and their environments. Even if you haven’t read the first volume (go get the trade and treat yourself to a fun read), you’ll be able to follow the unfolding events and enjoy the story.
Tynion understands that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are teenagers first, and it’s the key to this second volume. Teenagers — even ones with abilities as remarkable as the Turtles — go through bouts of self-doubt. (This was a successful plot device all the way back in the 1990 film, as Raphael beats himself up over the loss of one of his sai during the rescue of April O’Neil.)
Here, Tynion provides the appropriate dosage of teenage angst via Donatello, who, despite his technical wizardry, is not as fluent at combat as his brothers. In a poignant scene with Splinter, Donnie acknowledges that his intelligence is useful, but can’t overcome his belief that he is a failure. Despite Splinter’s wisdom that, “No one man can master all things in one lifetime,” Donatello is determined to seek out Batman. And, as teenagers are wont to do, Donatello acts without first considering all the ramifications of his decision. Bad decisions are a hallmark of our teenage years, and Tynion makes excellent use of this simple truth to propel the action.
Once again, Freddie Williams II crushes the artwork by packing each panel with details that you’ll need a second reading to appreciate. His heavy use of inks sets the dark tone for characters that are accustomed to nocturnal activities and underground living. From joining the Turtles on motorized skateboards through the sewers of New York to hunting down a Lazarus Pit far beneath Gotham, Williams II establishes the Turtles’ New York and Batman’s Gotham City as gritty mirror images. It’s the perfect setting for characters that have a lot in common.
Tynion’s new story includes all the elements of intrigue and fun that you’d expect after the first volume blew everyone away with its debut this week in 2015. Williams II’s kinetic art never sits still, and his thoughtful panels are stuffed with characters in constant motion. This dynamic duo has crafted a fan-friendly comic that can be enjoyed by all ages, but longtime fans will enjoy spotting elements from the TMNT and Batman animated TV shows. Add this one to your pull list and enjoy.