Bebop and Rocksteady — two of the best characters in IDW’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series — believably seesaw from murderous dirtbags to bumbling clods to codependent misanthropes — which is important to note, because now they have all time at their disposal. Headed by Ben Bates and Dustin Weaver, a deep bench of talented creators kicks off “TMNT: Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything” with a knowing wink to let readers know that it’s going to involve time travel and it will get confusing. While the story struggles to find its pace, the issue looks gorgeous and shows some potential for fun madcap antics.
After pizza, sewers and kick-splosions, the Turtles are pulled into another era-hopping mystery when Donatello discovers a pair of fossils in the Natural History Museum that look like a certain pair of former Foot Clan lackeys. The trip also sees Renet Tilley return to their lives, albeit looking much more like she did in her Mirage days than her recent IDW appearances, which could very well be the case. Her dialogue reads like it’s being said by that earlier version of the character, who could have hopped from the original timeline into this one; she makes reference to Savanti Romero making his IDW debut as well as their fight from an old “Tales of the TMNT” comic from 1989. If this is the case, it opens the door for our titular doofuses to cross into alternate “TMNT” continuities and possibly alternate “TMNT” media. Those are some far reaching implications packed with potential.
Unfortunately, we don’t quite know if this potential will play out, as the issue really only picks up in the final two pages. Much of the page count is split between the Turtles, Renet breaking down the plot for us and Bebop and Rocksteady moving into place. Bebop and Rocksteady, who have been wandering the globe since the conclusion of “Vengeance,” pop up in Brazil, where they’ve clearly bungled a caper for a crime boss they insist on calling Reggaeton. The writers do well with the duo; they aren’t as vicious as they were when they cracked Donatello in half last year, but they still spew their fair share of carnage before lamenting their current state of affairs. Expect the “oops, our bad” side of them to come out more in this series as they stumble through the time stream.
The entire package looks awesome. Bates handles the Bebop and Rocksteady scenes, filling the panels with scratchy details and rough edges, while Weaver tackles the museum sequence, which involves a lot of standing around and talking — but it’s gorgeous nonetheless, as is typical of the artist. Sophie Campbell pops in for a smooth opening sequence and Giannis Milogiannis handles the last pages, which are hilarious and also give the plot a swift kick into movement. The splits are distinct but divided on scene and story changes, so the visual shifts aren’t jarring.
While the story hasn’t picked up yet, the setup is fun. “TMNT: Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything” #1 isn’t incredibly new-reader-friendly, though; fans who pick up the comic after seeing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows” might need to do some catch-up before diving in here. I hope that Bates and Weaver let the title pair cut loose a little more in the next issue and let the screwball nature of the plot open up, but — if you’re a current “TMNT” reader — you should check out this miniseries.