DC Comics has been much more open about collaborating with other companies the last decade. On top of their crossovers with Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera characters DC has co-published comic books such as Green Lanter/Star Trek. One of the best of these crossover comics has been the three Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic books they have published alongside IDW. Two of these Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics were a crossover between the comic versions while the third featured the cartoon counterparts of these universe. Now we are getting the official third part in the crossover trilogy for the comic book universes with Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. How will this new series complete the trilogy? Let’s find out with Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Freddie E. Williams II and Kevin Eastman
Colorist: Jeremy Colwell
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: As red lightning storm lights up Gotham City’s sky Batman (who is wearing an intricate ninja inspired version of his costume) feels something is off as he had a dream about something that did not feel right. He gets a message that something is going on at the Natural History Museum and contacts his family to meet him at the emergency call.
In an alleyway a homeless man is approached by someone that says they are not from this world.
At the Natural History Museum Harley Quinn (who is wearing a costume reminiscent of Karai’s) holds everyone inside the museum hostage with the help of Clayface (who looks like Rocksteady), Killer Croc (who is wearing Bebop’s gear), Deadshot and the Smile Clan.
Commissioner Gordon calls in back-up to handle things before the Laughing Man arrives. Gordon is to late and the Laughing Man (who is a combination of Shredder and Joker) attacks him from behind. Laughing Man reveals he already got Gordon’s GCPD crew to be part of the Smile Clan.
Harley runs up to Laughing Man to tell him that Batman is there. At that moment Batman shows up and starts fighting with Laughing Man.
In another part of the museum Raphael (wearing a modified version Jason Todd’s Red Hood costume) knocks Killer Croc out with a sneak attack.
Clayface notices this but is frozen by Donatello (wearing a modified version of Tim Drake’s first Red Robin costume).
Harley Quinn goes after Raphael and Donatello along with her hyenas. Michelangelo (wearing a modified version of Damian Wayne’s Robin costume) knocks Harley Quinn down. He then is able to tame Harley’s hyenas.
On the second level of the museum Deadshot prepares to kill Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo. Before he can take his shot Leonardo (wearing a modified version of Dick Grayson’s blue Nightwing costume) kicks Deadshot off the second floor.
Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo team-up to take on the rest of the Smile Clan.
In another part of the museum Batman and Laughing Man continue to go back and forth in their fight. Laughing Man suddenly pulls out a purple crystal that cause Batman to see both Joker and Shredder. This throws Batman off long enough for Laughing Man to get Harley Quinn to activate the explosives within the museum.
As the explosives go off Batman regroups with the Turtles and they all leave before the entire museum collapses on top of them.
Outside the museum Officer Casey Jones helps Commissioner Gordon get out of the museum safely. Commissioner Gordon wonders why Casey didn’t take Laughing Man’s offer like the other cops. Casey says he only takes orders from the Commissioner.
Someone in the shadows watches all this happen.
At Wayne Enterprise an order of pizzas arrive. The security guard is tells the janitor to throw them into a specific trash chute.
The pizzas end up leading to the Batcave Michelangelo happily gets all the pizza and pass it out to his brothers.
Master Splinter (wearing Alfred Pennyworth’s butler suit) approaches Bruce Wayne who is meditating. Bruce tells Master Splinter about his dream that Laughing Man looked like someone he calls the Joker and now he feels a little lost because of it. Master Splinter reminds Bruce that he has done his best to raise Bruce after his parents died and taught him to be a ninja along with his brothers (the Turtles) so he did not feel alone.
Leonardo reminds Bruce (with Leonardo calling Bruce “brother”) that they need Bruce to calm his mind if they have any hope of defeating the Smile Clan. Bruce laughs knowing Leonardo is right and says he just needs to get some sleep.
Suddenly Earth Prime Raphael (stylized in black and white like from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) suddenly appears in the Batcave. Earth Prime Raphael reveals to everyone that their world has been messed with to make them all weaker.
Elsewhere Krang (who has fused with Anti-Monitor) is told that Earth Prime Raphael has appeared. Krang is shown to be happy about this as now Batman and the Turtles will understand the rules to his multiverse. End of issue.
The Good: After two comic books that had Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles readers are more than ready to go all out with crazy stories. That is exactly what James Tynion and Freddie Williams do as they go all out with Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1. Through all the insanity they know exactly what to do to ensure fans will have a smile on their faces while reading this issue.
Opening Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1 with the red lightning storm was a great signal that something was completely different. As we’ve seen with stories like DC Universe: Rebirth a lightning storm has a major significance when it comes to DC Comics. It gave an ominous feeling even before Batman appeared in his altered ninja costume.
Moving right into seeing all the different combination of merged Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was incredible fan service. What made all these amalgamated characters work is the fact that James Tynion IV did not try to explain who these characters were mergers of. He trusted Freddie Williams artwork to give us a clear idea of how, for example, Harley Quinn and Karai merged into one character. There were more than enough hints to who these characters were.
Not going through the explanation for these characters made Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1 move at a quick pace. Tynion did not waste time in introducing the Shredder-Joker merged character in the form of Laughing Man. Both from design and attitude Laughing Man had enough of each character to not make the Shredder or Joker part dominant. At the same time, Laughing Man came across as a unique character who had instant credibility in being a badass.
All of this made for a more dynamic energy to the fight that Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had with the Smile Clan. All of the Turtles got the proper introduction to showcase what kind of characters they are. Tynion kept to the spirit of who Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello are while also giving their characters elements from Nightwing, Red Hood, Robin and Red Robin, respectively. It was a delicate balance that Tynion walks without ever losing the core of what makes these characters great.
With the Turtles being given elements from the Batman Family it was great to see them be turned into Bruce Wayne’s brothers. This gave a new layer to the dynamic that Batman and the Turtles share. It taps into the family dynamic both characters share.
This also led to a strong, albeit quick, scene between Bruce and Master Splinter. Seeing Master Splinter act like a father figure to Bruce showed how much they mean to each other. It quickly established how much of a major influence Master Splinter was on Bruce in this continuity. As Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III continues I hope this dynamic between Bruce and Master Splinter is expanded on further.
Establishing Batman as the only character that detects that something is off was a strong use of the characters history. Tynion used the fact that Batman has been involved in so many conflicts with the multiverse that this is something that his character can identify, even if it subconsciously. Having Batman be the one to detect this led to a great look at how the Laughing Man is a merger of Joker and Shredder.
Bringing the original black and white Raphael and a Krang-Anti-Monitor fusion to close out Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1 was a great move. This immediately showed that the conflict in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III will truly be a multiverse affair. It also opens the door for Tynion to possibly use other versions of Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That is an exciting possibility to have since there are so many different interactions of these characters that Tynion can use throughout this multiverse story.
As mentioned earlier, Freddie Williams delivered great artwork throughout Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1. He created a distinct look to make all the merged Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle characters unique. At the same time, Williams kept specific character designs that did not lose the core of who they were. It all made for even more enjoyable sequences involving all these characters.
Also bringing in Kevin Eastman to draw the original Raphael was great fan service. Even though the character only fully on screen for one page it was more than enough to pull at the nostalgia strings. Hopefully Eastman sticks around to draw the versions of the TMNT that he has drawn for such a long time.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1 was an absolute blast. From beginning to end James Tynion IV, Freddie E. Williams II and Kevin Eastman crafted a comic book that will leave fans with a smile on their face. If you are a fan of Batman and/or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this is a must have comic book.
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