Happy Monday! Another start of the week means it is time to start things off on a good note by checking out the comic books that came out last week. This week’s Monday Morning Reviews feature big events going on with the Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle families. These reviews will be for Catwoman #35 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #4.
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Nina Vakueva
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
The Good: Similar to Nightwing #84, Catwoman #35 is about establishing where this series will be positioned in the Fear State event that is consuming the Batman Family line. Especially with how much the fight with Father Valley took out of Selina Kyle and her supporting cast it was important that the opening pages addressed this. Understandably Maggie Kyle deciding to leave Gotham City and go on her own journey was something the character needed. The goodbye between sisters that Selina and Maggie had leaves the door open to bring the latter back at a later time and make her return a big deal to Selina’s life.
As for the tie in to Fear State, Ram V did a great job working in the events involving Father Valley into how Fear State has taken over all of Gotham City, including Alleytown. This makes it so even if the Catwoman tie-in issues stay in Alleytown the epic scale of Fear State permeates throughout the story. Adding in not only Catwoman but other Batman villains into the situation highlighted how the Magistrate’s Peacekeepers are going after everyone that goes against Mayor Nakano and Simon Saint’s vision for Gotham City. Its little things like this that help build out the greater Fear State event that every Batman Family title is tackling right now.
There were also a good amount of teasers for what to expect from the Catwoman Fear State tie-ins. Specifically we see how the Poison Ivy story is something that will become the main storyline this series will be dealing with. Which is appropriate given how the Poison Ivy side of the character has been a supporting character in this series. How Harley Quinn and the Gardner end up factoring in to what Catwoman is dealing with will be interesting to see play out.
Nina Vakueva artwork was a perfect fit for this series. Vakueva brings a grounded style that fits the tone that the Fear State is going for. The artwork gets across how the odds really are stacked against everyone who is against the Magistrate right now. The action in particular got over how chaotic things are throughout Gotham City.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Catwoman #35 does an excellent job integrating the series into the Fear State event. Ram V is able to address recent events and how that impacts the way we see Selina Kyle approach what is going on in Gotham City. Seeing as the Poison Ivy storyline will be something that this series will be addressing I recommend those reading the main Fear State story also pick up the Catwoman tie-ins.
Story Writers: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird & Tom Waltz
Script Writers: Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman
Artist: Kevin Eastman, Easau & Isaac Escorza, and Ben Bishop
Colorist: Samuel Planta and Luis Antonio Delgado
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
The Good: This fourth issue of The Last Ronin is a lot of set up on the heroes side of things as Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Tom Waltz work on overdrive to get to the end of this war with Oroku Hiroto. That works both the benefit and detriment of The Last Ronin #4. Where the creative team gets it right is further reestablishing Michelangelo’s bond with April O’Neil. As we’ve seen Michelangelo interact with people again his old personality is starting to appear. Which is important to see appear as we’ve spent the previous three issues with Michelangelo in his darker Last Ronin persona.
At the same time, we see how much Michelangelo has grown as he has become the sensei to April O’Neil and Casey Jones daughter, Casey Marie Jones. Waltz, Eastman and Laird have done a very good job in quickly establishing Casey as her own character. You see flashes of both her parents while positioning her to be a superhero in this world. This made the surprise that Casey actually has superhuman abilities because April and Casey were exposed to the Turtles for so long that the mutagen affected her DNA. That was a good twist to further position Casey as a special person in this world.
All these scenes helped to build up the complete warzone that New York has become as the underground resistance is taking the fight to Hiroto’s Foot Clan. The scale of the battlefield is appropriately large that makes it feel like we are in the final fight for the heart and soul of New York City. Which all nicely sets up the final issue to be completely focused on the present day scenes as Michelangelo is all set for his final battle with Hiroto.
The Bad: For the first time in this series the flashbacks did feel like they got in the way of the storytelling. While nice that we got to see what the final fates of Donatello and Splinter were it was all very predictable. Eastman, Laird, and Waltz made these flashbacks to be to formulaic that they ended up losing their impact for this fourth issue of The Last Ronin.
This is where the art didn’t help either. Because as cool as it continues to be to see Eastman drawing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles style his style clashes way to much with the rest of the series. Which causes there to be an even bigger disconnect with the three different art styles we get in this issue. It would’ve been better to have stuck with two art teams with one assigned to the present and other team to the present day scenes.
Also because of the length of the flashback scenes and showcasing the epic scale of the warzone New York City became there was no time to further develop Oroku Hiroto as the antagonist. Even the brief scene we got with Hiroto did nothing for the character. It just made Hiroto come across as a generic villain rather than the complex son of Karai seeking to complete his revenge for what the Turtles did to his mother.
Overall: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #4 is the weakest issue of this mini-series thus far. The set-up for the final issue to have as big of a scale as possible with Michelangelo leading the resistance against the Foot Clan. Where this issue does falter is how repetitive the use of flashbacks were to previous issues and the lack of development around Oroku Hiroto. Hopefully the final issue will deliver the epic conclusion we have been led to expect.
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