The Punk Frogs made a major statement as they destroyed the Splinter Clan Dojo in the previous issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is a major blow to what the Ninja Turtles and their friends have been trying to create in Mutant Town. With such a thing happening how will the Splinter Clan respond and continue to help those in Mutant Island? Let’s find out with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #127
Story Consultants: Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Writer: Sophie Campbell
Artist: Pablo Tunica
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
With Ch’rell hunting for Seri the Triceraton work together to buy Ma’riell time to get Seri to a safe bunker. There Ma’riell works to get Seri, as the Regenta, off the island in a capsule that will affect Seri’s growth rate.
In Mutant Town, Dr. Jasper Barlow gives the Turtles, Alopex, and Casey Jones a tour of his hospital. Dr. Barlow denies Casey service as he only treats mutants, whether animal- or human-born mutants. Dr. Barlow then helps patch Raphael’s recent wound up. Dr. Barlow then shows interest in the shell that Donatello constructed for himself and offers to consult Donatello in the future.
Later, at the ruins of the Splinter Dojo, everyone works to clean up while discussing how they should strike back against the Punk Frogs. Donatello brings up how one of the Punk Frogs accused him of kidnapping one of their friends because of his synthetic shell. He goes on say this may mean Dr. Barlow is involved in some way.
While thinking that is a good theory Raphael says they can investigate Dr. Barlow unless they have clear evidence. Raphael’s inaction gets Alopex angry and they argue until all deciding to focus on going to the church to make as their temporary home.
Later, after setting up housing in the church Donatello sneaks away. Alopex catches him and says she is coming with Donatello to investigate Dr. Barlow.
At the hospital, Dr. Barlow speaks to his mysterious benefactor about meeting the Splinter Clan about his experiment to create doppelgangers he is creating and their arrangement.
Donatello appears to meet with Dr. Barlow. Dr. Barlow happily takes Donatello on a tour of his hospital including showing Donatello his experiment on reanimating dead tissue.
With Dr. Barlow distracted Alopex sneaks into the hospital. During her investigation she is attacked by D.B., a mutant-mole rat working for Dr. Barlow. Alopex is able to escape with her tail being injured.
While running through the facility Alopex is shocked to find a room where Dr. Barlow is experimenting on mutant turtles.
At that same time Dr. Barlow shows Donatello his latest creation: Venus, a cytogenetic mutant-turtle.
With such a major event taking place in the previous issue the question was what Sophie Campbell would do next with her run on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The answer is made quickly as Campbell is not looking to rush the story with the Punk Frogs. Instead, the story with this direction for the series will continue to grow out naturally as we learn more about what is going on in Mutant Town.
The patience shown throughout Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #127 makes the pacing of the story being told with Dr. Jasper Barlow have a natural flow. With the Splinter Clan Dojo burning down we see that the Turtles and their allies first concern is making sure to get healed up. There is no rushing to get revenge on the Punk Frogs for what they did. Instead, they will assess what has gone on to make sure the way they strike back doesn’t ruin what they are trying to build with the bigger picture of Mutant Town. It’s yet another indication that we are seeing all of the Ninja Turtles grow as adults with a mature outlook at each action they take.
At the same time, we do see how their sense of responsibility doesn’t put them above arguing like they are known to do, there is just now much different framing. Which we see with Raphael is the one to say they can’t go after Dr. Jasper Barlow without evidence. It’s a stark contrast to how Raphael is normally perceived but shows how seriously he is taking his responsibilities as a Constable. While this causes Raphael and Alopex to get into an argument Campbell does a great job making each side to have a strong reason to back up what they are saying.
This led in well into the unexpected team-up between Donatello and Alopex. These two haven’t interact much outside the group and Campbell quickly established their chemistry with how they discuss what they are going to do. They don’t miss a beat with how they are working as equal partners to make use of each of their skills to investigate Dr. Barlow from two different angles at the same time.
Which all works to best position Dr. Barlow as a major antagonist for this series. The interaction between the Splinter Clan and Dr. Barlow in the first half of the issue worked to get a lot of strong character development for the doctor of Mutant Town. Because while does show he will help the Splinter Clan and other mutants there is always something off about how he says it. There is a lot of mad scientist vibes you get even when he is patching up Raphael.
That all makes the truth about Dr. Barlow’s work be an even better reveal. Dr. Barlow may not be a physical threat but his mad scientist direction with all his experiments on various mutants makes you uneasy whenever he is on screen. Having such a villain gives much more depth to what can be done with this direction for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Which makes the debut of Venus into the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles through Dr. Barlow an even bigger surprise. Venus finally debuting in the TMNT comic books has been something I never thought we would get. But while it is a great surprise the way Venus debuts does create a lot of questions for what Campbell has planned for the character. Will she be positioned as an antagonist? Or is there something more that will be done? Finding out creates greater excitement for the series moving forward.
Another major plot point we see once again developed in the story with the Triceratons and Utroms. We see here that something is going on with the Triceratons’ Regenta Seri. What Campbell exactly plans to do with bringing Seri into play and how it will impact the story around Mutant Town will be interesting to see play out.
Pablo Tunica’s artwork was solid throughout Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #127. The opening got across how devastating the war that was taking place was on the Triceratons. Tunica also got across how disturbing of an individual Dr. Jasper Barlow was even when he was trying to help. You are always on edge with the character because of his design, which pays off well with the big reveal of the issue. The only inconsistency that the artwork runs into is when Tunica draws more than two characters on a panel. Once it becomes group shots the artwork looks a bit rushed.
With the destruction of the Splinter Clan Dojo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #127 begins a new chapter for the series. Sophie Campbell and Pablo Tunica get that point across with how the Ninja Turtles handle the major blow they and their allies just suffered. That along with the massive debut of Venus back into the TMNT world there is a lot here that will capture fans interest for what will happen next.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10