Story: Sophie Campbell
Artist: Jodi Nishijima
Release Date: Aug 25th, 2021
The Mutanimals fall apart in IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #120. Protesters and Mutanimals battle in the streets while Ray and Hob bicker over leadership of the Mutanimals and Mutant Town. This is what TMNT fans read while we’re waiting for the next installment of the Last Ronin.
TMNT #119 focussed on Sally Pride’s mutant rally. In defiance of Hob’s leadership, Man Ray and the Mutanimals attacked the protest. Meanwhile, in the empty streets of Mutant Town, another squad of Mutanimals kidnapped young Lita and the weasels. In the struggle to capture the weasels, a human journalist who sought to report on the protest was shot and left for dead.
The injured reporter from issue #119 crawls her way to Splinter Clan to let them know the children, Lita and the weasels, are in trouble.
In the Mutanimals headquarters Hob confronts Ray about usurping Hob to attack the protest and kidnap the children. Ray is concerned about maintaining power. He’s worried about the legal ramifications of the Mutanimals terrorist and criminal activity if the Mutanimals aren’t able to hold onto power.
Hob, despite being a violent terrorist, seems to have a code of honor, albeit a mutant supremacist code. He doesn’t care about power and won’t harm mutants to maintain power
By this time what was a nonviolent protest has been provoked to violence by the assissination attempts of the previous issue. Mutanimals and protesters have been brawling in the streets.
Under the leadership of Splinter Clan the protestors have pushed back the Mutanimals offensive. It’s during the Mutanimals retreat that the Turtles are alerted to the kidnapping of the children. Leonardo begrudgingly agrees to an open assault on the Mutanimals compound.
The attack on the Mutanimals headquarters meets very little resistance. The power struggle between Hob and Ray has sewn confusion among the ranks.
Oroku Saki, the repentant phantom formerly known as the Shredder, materializes just in time to prevent the confrontation between Hob and Ray from becoming a shootout. Saki frees the children and disappears.
By the time Raph finds him, Hob, having just seen a ghost, is questioning his own sanity. Raph confronts Hob about everything. The mutagen bomb, the creation of Mutant Town, Hob’s seizing of power and piss-poor management of the mutant community. Everything. The altercation becomes physical as Raph rages at Hob for making Raph complicit.
Hob manages to stun Raph, giving Hob enough time to retrieve his gun. The children, most of whom see Hob as their father, intervene to stop Hob from shooting Raph. Protesters file in, cornering and vastly outnumbering Hob.
The weakness of the drawings makes the book feel less like an all-ages book and more like a book strictly for kids. The artist and colorist are obviously talented. But the simplicity of the line art and colors really don’t do justice to what is, surprisingly, a pretty complex and nuanced story. I just wish more consideration was given to composition and atmosphere. A more sophisticated look would do wonders for the subject matter.
Civil rights, assassination, protests, peaceful demonstrations being antagonized to violence? These are heavy topics deserving an art style with some dramatic weight. TMNT #120 is, thankfully, a much better book than TMNT Annual 2021 #1. But a little more attention to the art would make it a dramatically more satisfying book.
Who would have thought TMNT could ever be so topical? The issues explored in the Mutant Town arc are very relevant to the problems we are currently facing today. Somehow a goofy book about ninja turtles has illustrated the problem of advocating for people that society can and do ignore. We have a long way to go before the victims of Hob’s mutagen bomb are allowed to live with the dignity afforded to them when they were human.
Next: IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #121 is scheduled for release September 22nd, 2021