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Review: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1

batmantmntcoverIn a disappointing turn of events, reading Batman/TMNT Adventures #1 is like watching one of your favorite bands as a kid or teenager come back together for a half-hearted reunion because they have bills to pay or something. (And maybe it’s a completely new band lineup.) In IDW’s latest intercompany crossover with DC Comics, writer Matthew K Manning, artists Jon Sammariva and Sean Parsons, and colorist Leonardo Ito kind of , sort of mash together Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles using the designs from the classic Batman the Animated Series and not as famous 2003 TMNT cartoon. There are plenty of silly jokes, some creative drawing of Clayface, and even Alfred snark, but these good bits seem thrown together in a kind of heterogenous crossover mixture if you remember high school chemistry.

Manning does a decent job writing banter for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles relying on bad puns and sight gags from Sammariva and Parsons for most of his humor. They are the entertaining part of the crossover with a small skirmish against Clayface, who has randomly crossed a portal into the TMNT universe that was opened by Two-Face that Manning struggles to explain before moving onto the next average gag. Batman and company get completely neglected by the crossover with the Dark Knight doing a tiny bit of detective work and just posing around the whole issue. Sammariva brings some slapdash energy to Clayface’s transformation into Michelangelo, and Ito pours on the brown, but there is none of the psychological depth that Batman: The Animated Series brought to them as they are just jokes and gimmicks. (And Sammariva draws Harley Quinn with no spine.)

There is already a pretty good Batman/TMNT crossover that came out earlier this year from James Tynion and Freddie Williams as they juxtaposed the Turtles’ relentless love of fun with Batman’s no nonsense attitude for great comedic effect and even one powerful dramatic moment when Batman showed Raphael his parents’ graves. Manning uses this juxtaposition in Batman/TMNT Adventures #1 for weak sight gags as Michelangelo quotes dialogue from Batman: The Animated Series and asks a criminal where the best place to get pizza is. There is a slight attempt at showing how the Turtles are trying to be legit superheroes, but it falls by the wayside for the Clayface battle and having the Joker and Harley Quinn as the plot turns into a flurry of cameos and what was meant to be a cliffhanger reveal.

The iconic Bruce Timm Batman: The Animated Series and the ridiculously delightful 2003-2009 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series designs are on model, but lack the motion and kinetic feeling of the source material. I would really love to see what an artist like Michael Avon Oeming or Ian McGinty would have done with these characters. Batman/TMNT Adventures #1 may appeal to young readers, who didn’t grow up on these two cartoons or who enjoy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it falls short of being a true “all ages” book despite its nods to nostalgia.

Story: Matthew K. Manning Penciler: Jon Sammariva
Inker: Sean Parsons Colors: Leonardo Ito
Story: 5 Art: 6 Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

IDW provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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One comment

  • I just read this issue and completely disagree. I’m a huge TMNT fan, I’m in my late 30s and have been reading since the Mirage days… and I felt like the Tinion/Williams crossover from earlier this year was a disaster and just out to make a profit. That’s what it felt like. I wanted to like it but that story was all over the place and I was not a fan of the art, which looked almost unfinished. This new crossover gets it right and brings back the nostalgia from the Batman animated series of the 90s. The art ties in well with those comics too and of course the Turtles are scripted just like they have been with the Nick cartoon. Both of these are based on their respective cartoon series which were written for kids. Even the Batman 90s Series was done for the 7-12 year old crowd. That’s why this one gets it right. They’re on target with the audience they are writing for and not trying to recreate something in a new era. I think for those of us who remember the BAS and enjoy the new TMNT nick series this is a win.