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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104 (IDW Comics)

walking shelled mutant. Since the bombastic events of the “City At War” storyline that culminated in issue 100, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been given a bit of a subdued storyline from writer/artist Sophie Campbell (who’s working with story outlines from Tom Waltz and TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman), and that’s served as as surprisingly welcome change of pace for the heroes in a half-shell.

Still reeling from the devastating events of the big hundredth issue, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104 is another slower-paced issue, but this breather allows for more character development for the brothers, and especially Jennika, who really starts to come into her own with this issue. Slowly coming to terms with her new life as a, well, Ninja Turtle, she starts to see the differences between herself and her fellow mutants, and stands her ground against longtime frenemy to the Turtles, Old Hobb. But this newfound confidence hits a snag when it comes to attempting to get the four Turtles to join up with one another again.

Sophie Campbell may be working from outlines and consults from Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz, but this series feels entirely her own. By slowing down the pace and delving into the ways the different characters all are dealing with the death of Splinter and the dissolution of their team, Campbell has oddly injected new life into this series, and gone into greater depth with the Turtles then I honestly think has ever happened before. It’s a surprisingly mature take on these characters, and a really welcome surprise.

Of course, it should go without saying that Campbell’s art is pretty great her too. Honestly, it’s so good that I’m in awe of the fact that Campbell was able to put out this kind of art while also scripting the series. Campbell’s able to do wonders with the emotions on the different character’s faces, something that becomes really surprising given the fact that this series is primarily starring a bunch of characters that aren’t even human!

For a while I was debating about dropping Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after it hit issue 100, but I’m glad that I ended up sticking with it, as this book has honestly never been better than right now. This is a surprisingly adult take on the heroes in a half-shell, and while it’s not “adult” in the “super violent original comics” kind of way, the fact that this book is taking the time to show the toll of the Turtles’ constant battles is something that I never expected from the series, and has become a very welcome change.

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