Sophie Campbell did something Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans never thought they would see happen. That was bringing Venus de Milo, the fifth Turtle from The Next Mutation Fox Kids TV show, to the comic books. This is a big game changer as it is something that didn’t feel like would ever happen. Even with Jennika becoming the official fifth Turtle of the family Venus being brought back into the fold felt out of reach. But now its happened and there really is no telling what plans Campbell has for the debut of Venus in the TMNT comics. Let’s find out with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #128.
Story Consultants: Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Writer: Sophie Campbell
Artists: Pablo Tunica and Sophie Campbell
Inkers: Patricio Delpeche
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
At Burnow Island, Ma’riell uses an acceleration pod to age Seri to 18 years old. Ma’riell then leads Seri to an escape ship but they are cornered by Ch’rell and his troops.
Over at Mutant Town, Alopex is knocked out by Dr. Jasper Barlow’s assistants.
Meanwhile Dr. Barlow shows Donatello how he brought Venus back to life using a dragon scale cells. To Donatello’s horror and anger Dr. Barlow reveals that Venus is the missing Punk Frog that he has transformed into a turtle. Dr. Barlow then injects something into Donatello to knock him out.
Donatello wakes up strapped to a device with Alopex next to him in a similar spot. Dr. Barlow states that since there are no ethics in Mutant Town he is free to experiment as he sees fit. Dr. Barlow then proceeds to start experimenting on Donatello by first injecting him with dragon cells.
This causes Venus and Donatello to gain a psychic connection as they are both transported to the Astral Plane because of the dragon power in both of them. Within the Astral Plane Donatello experiences a memory with his father from his previous life, something he explains to Venus. Venus tells Donatello to use the dragon power within him now as a key.
Back at Burnow Island Ma’riell does her best to fight of Ch’rell and his troops to provide Seri time to escape. Seri is able to make it off Burnow Island just as Ch’rell captures Ma’riell. End of issue.
Mutant Town is place rich with opportunities for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise. Sophie Campbell and Pablo Tunica once again show this with the presentation of Dr. Barlow and the origin of Venus in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #128.
Connecting both Dr. Barlow and Venus’ characters was such a smart move. With Dr. Barlow we’ve seen how messed up of a character he is since his introduction. Both in his character design and way of talking to others you feel a great unease whenever Dr. Barlow is on screen. That is present throughout his appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #128 as you are constantly on the look out when he is going to turn on Donatello. It gave a different edge to the first half of the issue.
Dr. Barlow’s presentation was helped by how he has assistants that are just as villainous. There is great unpredictability to these characters that we haven’t seen from other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villains. Having that feeling of this being a whole new villain that we haven’t seen has its own magic behind it as we are left in a spot of not knowing what Dr. Barlow and his crew will do next.
Which brings us to the horrifying reveal about Venus’ true origins in this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She is not the Hamato Clan long lost sister. Instead Venus is actually the lost Punk Frog that was part of the cause behind the current conflict between the Punk Frogs and TMNT. Adding in how Dr. Barlow decided to transform Venus from a Punk Frog to a mutant turtle like Donatello certainly added to how unethical the villain is, which he revels in later in the issue.
This origin certainly makes Venus a tragic figure right away. She is a victim who had her entire life changed without a choice in the matter. Campbell and Tunica do a very good job making the expressions and few words Venus does have are powerful moments in this issue. It all positions Venus to be one of the most complex characters of this series with a ton of potential for what direction her character could go from here.
Within all this we get a lot of solid character focus on Donatello. While things certainly turned out to be the worst case scenario for Donatello it is refreshing to see him leading a story without his brothers. We are seeing more of his personality shine through over the course of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #128. This makes the Astral Plane scene with Donatello and Master Splinter from their previous lives as Clan Hamato a meaningful character moment. You get the weight these memories have on Donatello as he is physically going through harsh treatment.
While she is taken down quickly I do appreciate that we continue to see how much of a fighter Alopex is. Even though the odds are against her against Dr. Barlow’s minions she does not back down. That character trait continues with how Alopex does not hold back her rage when seeing what Dr. Barlow does to Donatello. Hopefully Alopex gets a big moment in this story as her character continues to be a standout in this series.
The developments on Burnow Island with Ma’riell helping Seri escape being captured by Ch’rell was much better handled. A big thing that helps this story out is that Seri’s plot both starts and ends Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #128. This narrative choice created greater importance for this story as being integral for the series future. The tension of Ma’riell buying Seri time to get off planet was given more time to breathe, which also gave more time to build hate for Ch’rell as a villain. Now with Seri leaving Burnow Island and likely heading to Earth it’ll be interesting how this changes things for the series.
Sophie Campbell and Pablo Tunica knock it out of the park with the story told in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #128. From the tragic origin story of Venus de Milo to the race for Seri to escape the villainous Utroms capture there is a lot for TMNT fans to get invested in. With this many developments going on it is an exciting time to be reading IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic.
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