Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe (#6) – John Lees, Brahm Revel

3 out of 5

Great art, great character for a reboot, oddly underwhelming results.  Still: This is EXACTLY the kind of side story biz I want from TMNTU, so keep it coming.

Someone in the letters pages seemed to suggest Wyrm was a Mirage creation, but I’m pretty positive – and the internet seems to back me up here – that he was an Archie Comics premiere, around the time they were having some pretty creepy cool and fun ghoulies appear.  I don’t remember much about the dude at this point except that I loved his design and reread the issue several times over; the recent CG cartoon transposition of mutant to Mr. Mxyzptlk-like otherworldly genie was interesting, but bot what I wanted, so I’m glad to see the IDW comic bring him back to the sewer.

As represented by writer John Lees and artist Nick Pitarra, Wyrm is a hivemind-like being composed of a whole bunch of flat worms, making him one of those ooze-type villains whose body just morphs around your attacks.  Mikey stumbles across a policewoman’s investigation into a subterranean disappearance, and the duo, in turn, stumble across the cause of said disappearance: Wyrm.  Pitarra has a widescreen, stippled, Frank Quitely-like style with a much more confident line for his lead characters, which creates a nice balance of details in his panels.  His framing is pretty straight on, though, which prevents the pages from really moving, but the style is appealing overall.  Lees pitches Wyrm as unhinged, taunting Mikey with tidbits that prove he’s been watching him for a while, building the confrontation very much like a horror movie.  But that ends up being what prevents the issue from really turning on all gears: Its brother goofy enough or dark enough, stuck somewhere on the middle, unsure how bleak to make things.  The pieces are here for a really creepy villain, but it felt like Lees was slightly holding back.  TMNT struggles with this in general: You get the fake maturity of the ongoing series, which is really just comic book soap opera; otherwise, it always seems like the book is keeping in mind a youthful skew to its readership.

The backup, by Brahm Revel, is a to be continued, and is way too vague at this point – showing the origin of a grass roots ninja? – to draw a conclusion.  I dig the sketchy art, though.