Sophie Campbell has so far taken the momentum that Tom Waltz created for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during his run and translated it to the next natural steps for the franchise. The story with the Turtles dealing with how Splinter’s death impacted each of them and the current status quo with Mutant Town being created as a response to the events in Waltz’s “City At War” has been great thus far. Campbell is finding new ways to challenge all the characters we’ve been introduced to up to this point while not breaking away from the core of who they are. Now with the conflict within Mutant Town as to how the Mutanimals have handled policing this sector of New York City reaching a boiling point will we see things turn around for everyone? Let’s find out with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104.
Story Consulting: Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Script Writer and Artist: Sophie Campbell
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Mutant Town Old Hob calls Sally Pride a traitor for saying the Mutanimals are over. Sally fires back by calling Old Hob a traitor to her, Mondo Gecko, Pete, Slash and everyone. She then takes off her Mutanimal shirt and throws it at Hob.
After freeing the weasel mutant kids, Jennika tells Koya the kids aren’t going to be used for trafficking and tells Hob to leave their turf. Koya flies away while Old Hob calls them all idiots as he walks away.
Jennika then talks to the wesel kids to learn their names are Zink and Mushroom. The albino turtle kid also appears from hiding and reveals she does not have a name. Jennika gives her the name Lita with she likes. Jennika, Sally and Mona Lisa then take the kids back to Alopex place.
When they get back Jennika is happily surprised to find Donatello helping Alopex clean up. Donatello reveals he is there with April and asks where Raphael is. Jennika says Raphael stormed off earlier.
When Alopex goes to take out the trash she finds Raphael sitting outside near the door. She tells Raphael that Donatello and April are inside. Raphael doesn’t want to listen to Donatello give him some sort of speech. Aloplex tells him to stop being a grump and calls out to Donatello to let him know Raphael is outside.
After a silent moment between brothers Raphael admits he missed Donatello. Raphael admits he knows he should’ve visited them but couldn’t bring himself to when he pictured Michalangelo’s face as he would lose it.
Jennika joins them even though Raphael tells her to go away. Jennika tells Raphael that neither of them have anything to apologize for but that she will kick his ass next time if he gets out of line. Raphael asks what they should do next. Jennika suggests they go back to Northampton tomorrow to get Leonardo and Michelangelo. Jennika then shows Raphael that Pepperoni wants to go and he can’t say no to Pepperoni’s adorable face.
The next day Donatello, Jennika, and Raphael make it back to O’Neil Farm in Northampton. Leonardo sees them and goes outside where he and Raphael share an awkward “Hey.” Leonardo then is about to say that Michelangelo is not doing well.
Michelangelo comes and sadly says that he can’t find Klunk anywhere. Just as he says that Klunk suddenly appears out of nowhere. Michelangelo happily hugs Klunk and says he look everywhere for him. The Turtles all share a laugh in happiness together. After the laughter dies down Leonardo says he hasn’t laughed like that in a long time.
Later that night the Turtles talk about how much they miss Splinter. Donatello and Leonardo think they should do something to honor their dad. Jennika says that this is what he would’ve wanted, them all to move forward together. Raphael reminds Jennika she is one of them too.
Jennika then brings up how Splinter once told her the story of how originally ninjas used to fight for the people, protecting the innocent people from being crushed by those in power. Jennika believes they should represent that for those in Mutant Town and defend it from the Foot, Mutanimals and whoever else threatens the community. Leonardo thinks they should do more than defend Mutant Town and suggest they should also open up a dojo to teach those in the community to defend themselves as well. The Turtles all agree with what Jennika and Leonardo have said about their new mission statement.
The next day the Turtles go back to where they buried Master Splinter and left their bandanas. Jennika says they create a new clan anybody can be a part of. She then suggest it be called the Splinter Clan.
As the Turtles get their bandanas Oroku Saki is shown watching them from the shadows.
Sometime later the Turtles and April work to clean up and restore an abandoned storefront to convert it into their new dojo. They work well into the night until they are too tired to do more.
Jennika asks her brothers if they ever went to a concert. Michelangelo wonders how they’ll do that since they are all mutants. Mona Lisa remembers that Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello haven’t been in Mutant Town long and promises to show them around town starting with a metal concert. After a quick discussion the Turtles all agree to go and be part of the culture in Mutant Town.
Lita, Zink and Mushroom say they want to go but Jennika tells them they are too young.
A little later, after getting dressed, the Turtles along with Sally, Alopex and Mona Lisa all go to the Kennel Klub for the metal concert. End of issue.
The Good: The building of the new status quo for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to be a success as Sophie Campbell establishes what her run will be about. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104 finalizes the strong foundation this series will have as Campbell dives deeper into the concept around Mutant Town and other sub-plots going on.
First and foremost, this intro story arc was about setting up where all the Turtles were emotionally after the events of City At War and Master Splinter’s death. We’ve seen how each of the Turtles have dealt with that pain differently. But even with how Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Jennika had their own ways of dealing they all had a sense of still being hurt. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104 tackled this well with how we see the five Turtles finally talk with each other.
Campbell does a really good job making the reunion between Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Jennika come across as a satisfying payoff. She does not accelerate the reunion just because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104 is the end of this intro story arc for the new status quo.It never felt like we were rushing story beats. Instead every scene was a payoff of what was established in the previous three issues of this arc.
Starting with Jennika finding out Donatello was back when she returned to Alopex’s place was a nice tone setter. Jennika’s happiness about Donatello’s return showed that everyone was ready to get back together. Donatello’s surprise when meeting Mona Lisa for the first time also nicely set up how he, Leonardo, and Michelangelo will need to readjust to the Mutant Town community.
From there we got a great scene between Raphael and Alopex that started the kick in the butt that the former needed. Even when he has been saving people in Mutant Town and interacted with others like Alopex, Raphael has not taken down the wall he created so he doesn’t have to deal with the emotional pain he feels inside. It is a very good twist on the usual rage filled character fans know Raphael is. The scene with Alopex also nicely builds up their relationship as we see how they care about each other, which made how she called out for Donatello a more meaningful move.
Speaking of Donatello, Campbell made a fantastic choice having their reunion start with three silent panels as they moved from an awkward silence to a hug before talking. Campbell’s artwork really hammered home how much being with each other at this time means to Donatello and Raphael. Nothing needed to be said to know how much they missed each other. It’s moments like this that the artwork can do much more in telling the story of this reunion than any dialogue could
Having Jennika join them also helped continue how she was not going to just let her brothers run off on their own. Her continued rivalry with Raphael adds a solid foundation for how their brother-sister relationship with the other brothers. Jennika and Raphael have a lot of similar aspects that it’ll be fun to see how their relationship develops now that their brothers are back.
It was also appropriate that when reuniting back on O’Neil Farms that it was Raphael and Leonardo who greeted each other first. Once again, letting the artwork do more of the talking than a bunch of dialogue really benefited this scene. You immediately get where Leonardo is after his scene with Michelangelo in the previous issue.
All of these emotional heavy reunions made the whole scene with Klunk return causing the Turtles to burst into laughter so rewarding. You could sense how everything switched from being incredibly tense with Michelangelo broken to relieved in finding Klunk. It was clearly the lighthearted moment that the five of them desperately needed, which Leonardo called out.
Having this united laughter was a great way to transition to the five Turtles talking about what they should do next. This is the talk they have all been avoiding having because looking forward just seemed impossible with what happened. But once again we see how once they are united the five of them can push through and move forward together. It plays into how important they are to each other, including Jennika who is still new to the family.
Using the story about ninja’s history that Splinter told Jennika about was a strong springboard to establish what their new goals are. Campbell puts back into play how much the ninja clans have been an important part of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Having the clan be called the Splinter Clan is a great way to honor their father. Adding in the aspect that not only will they be protecting others as superheroes but also opening a dojo to teach others is a great step forward. This established the fact that it is not the Turtles time to be the masters who will be teaching others like Splinter did for them their entire lives.
Having the kids, Lita, Zink and Mushroom, that Jennika and Sally Pride rescued to be the first new members of the dojo who the Turtles will help mentor was a good follow up of the drama with the Mutanimals. This puts a major spotlight on how Old Hob will continue to work within Mutant Town now that the Splinter Clan is officially part of the community. With the deal with the Foot Clan falling through now Old Hob is given more motivation to go all in on returning as a full-time antagonist.
Through that it was good to finally see Sally break away from Old Hob. She stood her ground to show that she isn’t going to just follow directions because she feels she has too. Now that Sally has found this new confidence she will make a great addition to the Splinter Clan, who are open for anyone to join. It would definitely give opportunity to the type of combinations of character interactions to have Sally and Mona Lisa be part of the Splinter Clan.
Ending Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104 with everyone going to a metal concert at a club was a cool way to show that Mutant Town is a community like anywhere else in the country. There are still a lot of things that the Turtles will need to tackle with why Mutant Town exists. But even with that, showing that Mutant Town has been able to create their own culture will be important to giving depth to this direction Campbell is taking the series on.
With all that said, it will be interesting to see what Campbell intends to do with the reveal that Oroku Saki was the one watching the Turtles on O’Neil Farm from a distance. This is something that Campbell confirmed on her Twitter account. How this relates to what the Foot Clan are doing trying to purchase mutant kids from Old Hob will be very interesting to see play out.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104 is an excellent conclusion to examining the fallout of the epic “City At War” storyline. Sophie Campbell fully tapped into the emotional weight of five Turtles they have carried since Master Splinter’s death. The payoff with their reunion creates a lot of intriguing story possibilities with the current status quo of TMNT Universe.
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