Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe (#9 – 10) – Sophie Campbell, Bobby Curnow

3 out of 5

I really should like this more than I did.  It’s exactly what I hope for TMNTU to be – side stories picking up scraps from the ongoing – and Sophie Campbell and Bobby Curnow’s script seems to take advantage of the freedom of such a sub-storyline to go a little wacky (and paired with artist Pablo Tunica who also seems to want to take that wacky ball and run with it)… but man was this uninteresting.  Not bad, technically: Campbell has a nice, naturalistic flow to her dialogue, even if it seems a tad cloy compared to how these featured characters – Alopex and Nobody – have otherwise been depicted, and Tunica stuffs his panels with a lot of busy linework and background info, especially later in the tale… but there’s a giant disconnect that prevents it all from syncing up, panel to panel.  Every moment and action seems isolated from the next.  Writing-wise, it’s a pacing issue – events happen a bit too quickly for it to sink in – and art-wise it’s a directional issue, not taking into account the whole page from a layout perspective (or at least not in a way that worked for me).  So, unfortunately, I never felt quite engaged by the story.

…Which has Alopex and Nobody kicking it in Northampton, talking about whether or not to stick with the whole Foot and fightin’ thingamabob, then accidentally wandering into a giant frog’s mouth which ends up being a portal to another Pantheon member’s realm (Pantheon: Y’know, Rat King, Kitsune; a mythology held in escrow until someone has an idea that isn’t just a tossaway mini-series).  Said Pantheon dude – – seems be the debauchery-maven amongst his family, running a continual other-dimension house party, and for reasons that never quite become clear (see: story pacing issues), YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE PARTY.  Unless you come up with a rather easily executed plan that gets you kicked out.  And wouldn’t ya’ know, the whole experience rededicates our lead duo to the TMNT cause, because: emotional payoff.

In Waitz’s hands, or a less interesting artist, this story would have flopped.  So despite my snark and the cited problems, Sophie and Curnow did fine, though if they’re unleashed again in their respective roles, I hope they can sharpen things a bit.

Issue 9s backup thankfully concludes the What Is Ninja mess with some final thoughts on the matter, uttered by Splinter to… Jennika, whose story is the one that’s been haphazardly shown the last few issues.  And maybe I was supposed to have realized that much sooner, but I’m dumb and the random focus on her character in the ongoing hasn’t made me care about her one pooper, and this backup hasn’t changed that, so… yar.

Issue 10s backup is a cute pepperoni dream sequence drawn by Campbell.  That is all.