Title: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Publisher: DC and IDW Comics
Writer(s): James Tynion IV
Artist(s): Freddie Williams II
The trap a lot of crossovers like these fall into is that they’re poorly written because the creators hope the pure nostalgia of your favorite characters in one comic is enough for you to forgive any problems with the comics. Sometimes that can be bad, like Frank Miller and Todd McFarlene’s Spawn/Batman crossover in the 90’s, and sometimes it can be good like…um…okay can’t think of any good examples, but you get what I mean. So does this crossover serve as a pointless miniseries made to get Ninja Turtles and Batman fans to buy this comic? Or is it a genuinely good comic that gives fans of both universes something to look forwards to? Well as a fan of both franchises, I have to say that if this comic gives you anything it’s this: fun!
So what’s the story? Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, Splinter, and Shredder and the Foot Clan have accidentally traveled to the DC universe (specifically Gotham City) thanks to Krang (who was only mentioned and never actually appeared) and must find a way back to their universe. Both Shredder and the Turtles wants to go home with the Turtles meeting Batman for the first time and seeking his help. Shredder, on the other foot (yeah I know, that was lame), decides that he instead wants to take over Gotham with the help of Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins. To add suspense, due to the different physical rules the DC universe applies to than the Turtle’s universe, the mutegen that allows the Turtles to take human-like form is slowly fading away and the longer they stay in the DCU the longer they risk turning into four normal turtles and a rat. Will Shredder and Ra’s be defeated? Will the Turtles find their way home before they’re reverted to boring normal animals? Will Michelangelo eat the last slice of pizza before someone else takes it?
The thing I like about this crossover is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously but at the same time isn’t too light-hearted that the intense moments don’t work. The story honestly feels very natural and is simply the characters acting in-character given the circumstances they find themselves in. One of the fun things about the Ninja Turtles franchise is seeing the different personalities and how they interact with each other. Leonardo is the wise and intelligent leader, Raph is the angry brute, Donatello is the nerdy brainiac, and Mickey is the one that actually acts like a teenager. Almost every Turtle had their time to shine with the exception of maybe Leonardo, which is kinda dissapointing.
The only teal complaint I have about the overall plot is the climax. Near the climax if the story, Shredder and Ra’s heads over to Arkham and uses some mutegen to mutate all the inmates into half-animal hybrids. Now I know that what I’m about to say may sound odd considering that this is a comic with four walking, talking turtles, but that’s just a tad too goofy. Granted it is nice to see some characters embrace their mutations while other characters disliked it as that showed off the villain’s personalities more, but again it was just a tad too far in my opinion on the comic-book goofiness (especially given the tone the comics was going for with the serious fight sequences).
The action scenes are all fun to watch and they give you every battle you really want to see in this type of crossover. Does Batman fight the Ninja Turtles? Yes! Does Leonardo fight Batman one-on-one? Yes! Does Batman get to fight Shredder? Hell yeah! Heck, even the Turtles get to face Ra’s in the end. For the most part these fights seem well done. The only thing that confused me is that when the Turtles and Batman first met they fought each other and Batman was able to be evenly matched with all four turtles fighting him four-on-one, but later on Leonardo did a one-on-one fight and actually managed to take Batman down. Granted it was a training fight so maybe Batman wasn’t as into it or something but it still made me scratch my head. In the climax, the Turtles faced Ra’s and Batman faced Shredder and it was a done quite well in my opinion. Ra’s was able to block every attack when the turtles were going at him one at a time, but actually had to retreat when they went at him full force at the same time. Batman and Shredder’s fight was brutal and Batman just barely managed to knock Shredder out in the end.
The art I have to say matched what I’d like to see for a Ninja Turtles comic but it just didn’t do Batman justice. For the Turtle elements it was beautifully done. The designs of the turtles were all great and the expressions matched their personalities, the half-animal Arkham inmates while goofy were drawn fairly well for what they were going for, and whenever Splinter told Batman something about the Turtle’s universe the art almost looked reminiscent of an ancient Chinese scroll which was a nice touch. However, Batman looked odd in a lot of these panels and the Batmobile design was horrible (looked more like a Catmobile).
Now lets move onto the characters. Batman was done well in this but sense this isn’t just a Batman comic this isn’t really one of those stories that dissects him as a character or show some side of him that we don’t see often. He’s done well and he’s in-character with no out-of-character hiccups that I caught, he’s just not amazing in this. If you’re picking up this comic you’re reading it for the fun of seeing your favorite superhero team up with four talking turtles to fight bad guys, you’re not looking for him to be challenged on an emotional level that makes you appreciate the character more. He’s done well and that’s all you need, nothing more and nothing less.
Leonardo I felt got the short end of the stick in terms of personality. He’s just kinda there. He’s the leader of the Turtles and the best fighter of them all but that’s all you see of him. No emotional connection between him and Batman, no scene where he discusses what it’s like in this new world having to fight alongside his brothers, none of that. He’s just kinda there to do what he needs to. I guess I kinda felt cheesed off at his lack of character because while he may not be my favorite turtle (wassup Mikey!) he’s probably the most important or just emphasized above the other three. I really wanted to see an emotional scene between him and Batman and that never happened.
While Leonardo didn’t have an emotional scene with Batman, Raphael sure did. If you know Raph and you saw the cover of issue #4 you can probably guess what happened. Raphael is the jerk of the group and the angry one who doesn’t have much patience. When he met Batman, he thought Batman was nobody more than just some vigilante running around in a lame bat costume (never mind the fact that your best friend does the same thing in a hockey mask). Although Batman brings Raph to Crime Alley and tells him how his parents died to a common criminal when he was 8. He pointed out that he wasn’t trying to guilt Raph, just wanted to explain himself. I gotta admit that this scene was done rather nicely considering that most of the time scenes like this just hammers in his origin story.
Michelangelo had the most personality of the Turtles and that makes sense considering that he’s the joker of the team (er, not that Joker). He has quite a few laughs and some endearing moments. One of my favorite parts was when he hugged Batman goodbye, it was just too adorable. Otherwise, he probably fell in love with Batman the most out of the other turtles and loved the dinosaur in the Batcave (because of course he would).
Donetello was never my favorite turtle and while I don’t dislike him here I don’t love him either. He looks with awe at all of Batman’s tech and even improves some of his gear. He’s fine within the story and at least he serves a greater purpose with studying the effects of the mutegen in the DCU.
The two biggest villains were Shredder followed by Ra’s al Ghul. Both characters are probably the most dangerous villains within their respective mythos (for Ra’s I’m talking less DC mythos and more Batman mythos considering guys like Darkseid and Brainiac) and their team up was pretty fun to watch. Both were intimidating and each had mutual respect for each other. In addition, Ra’s has his League of Assassins which parallels Shredder’s Foot so the two match each other in that sense.
While he barely plays a role at all I do want to bring up Damian who shows up in the lat two issues. Now it seems to me like most comic book fans really don’t like Damian all that much because he’s kind of a little snot. But to be honest…I freaking love the little guy. I’ve been meaning to make a post about Damian (beyond a Character Bio since I already did that) but he’s really underrated in my opinion and deserves a better chance. However for the purposes of this story, I would kind of have preferred Dick showing up. I mean imagine Dick Grayson interacting with the Ninja Turtles! That would have been awesome! Or have Dick meet Casey Jones (who did appear and one or two scenes)! That was a missed opprotunity in my opinion.
Overall I give the comic a 4/5. if you pick up this comic your looking for a fun ride with your favorite characters in a fun crossover, nothing deep or provocative. But hey, if your a Batman fan or a Ninja Turtles fan or both than you should have a blast!