The following review may contain some radical spoilers for Batman/TMNT #1-2.
So, I kind of got busy and never got around to reviewing the first issue of this series. It was a bummer, because Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 did a lot of things that I really liked. But in a way, it worked out. Because if there were any weaknesses I could have found in that first issue, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 completely does away with them.
The first thing that this issue does is absolutely deliver on the action. The first issue teased a fight between the Turtles and Killer Croc as Michelangelo sought revenge for the destruction of his Pony Racers video game, but we never quite got to see it. Batman and Shredder also met, but never came to blows. But at the beginning of Batman/TMNT #2, the World’s Greatest Detective has discovered the Ninja Turtles’ existence in his universe. And due to some stellar-yet-faulty detective work, he blames them for the recent break-ins perpetrated by the Foot Clan.
Needless to say, a fight scene between the Turtles and the Caped Crusader is going to tickle every part of your being. Batman shows off his ninja training against all four Turtles at once, and even Splinter gets into the mix. This fight scene lasts multiple pages, and the incredible art style of this comic makes it one of the most delicious things you’ve ever seen. It also features one great moment with that ridiculously awesome Batmobile that looks as if it drove right off of the liner art of a Meatloaf album cover and straight onto the pages of Heavy Metal. I had wondered what the action would be like in the gritty art style utilized so well by this crossover, and it didn’t disappoint for even a second.
The other thing that I found to be twice as strong in this issue was the humor. Mikey’s reactions to Batman’s fighting prowess are right on point, and even Raphael has a pretty great moment with Donatello. As the serious one in the group, you don’t always expect a lot of humor from Raph. But he and Donny really complement each other in a nice way during a scene in an internet café, during which Donny continues to marvel at the differences between their universe and DC’s. The first issue contained a cute Simpsons-like reference to Gotham’s lack of a designated state, while this one has Donny talking about clowns and new elements (the Joker and kryptonite, respectively).
I had originally hoped a crossover between Batman and TMNT would give us the ultra-violent Turtles first created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird rather than the sort of campy version that has grown over the years. It turns out, it falls somewhere in between. Given some of IDW’s recent lines of work with the franchise, I shouldn’t be surprised. They’ve offered great range in their characters, and that range is preserved here. This series is working on a number of levels, showing tender love and care in preserving everything that makes both Batman and the Ninja Turtles such beloved heroes.
This comic also features an appearance by Lucius Fox, who reveals a plot point that puts a bit of a ticking clock on the Turtles getting home. With Shredder teaming up (sort of) with Penguin to beat them to the punch, they don’t have long. And the last page reveals that they’re going to have to put aside their differences with Batman if they wish to resolve their plight.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2, “Last Turtle Standing,” ups the ante quite a bit. While the first issue served as a mere introduction, the stakes are raised in this issue and the story begins moving at breakneck speed. And if my hunch is correct, the next issue will be even fiercer. The script by James Tynion IV is ten times better than the first issue, which was already quite competent. The art and color by Freddie E. Williams II and Jeremy Colwell maintain the grittiness toward which this crossover has strived, and there isn’t a single panel on which it fails to impress. If the series continues to improve upon itself at this rate, it will quickly cement itself as the best dual-label crossover event I have ever read.