Preview: BATMAN/TMNT III #3
[Editor’s Note: Review may contain spoilers.]
Writing: James Tynion IV
Art: Freddie Williams II
Colors: Jeremy Colwell
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
15 YEARS AGO. Bruce buys four infant turtles while Joe Chill hijacks a TCRI truck. Seeing his parents run down by that truck, Bruce Wayne falls backwards into a sewer…with his turtles and a cannister of ooze, all witnessed by a rat. In the present, Bruce, now Batman, wrestles with Earth-Prime Raphael’s version of the truth and decides to investigate. Raphael, meanwhile, tries to jog the Turtles actual memories by showing them their masks. Batman returns to the fallen Wayne Manor while lab assistant April O’Neil is ambushed by the Laughing Man and The Smile based on Krang’s advice. The Turtles arrive and engage the smile. Donnie touches April and the pair remember each other. Earth-Prime Raph is abducted by Krang. The team agrees that they need to take Earth-Prime Raph’s advice and start remembering who they really are.
At the same time, a bearded Alfred hugs Bruce and it all comes back to him: The alley, the gun, the loneliness, the rage…and the bat. The Manor also changes back. Now in control of his faculties, Bruce theorizes that they are all trapped in a fabricated amalgam of realities. Further, the only way is to break it back open. The two head down to the restored Batcave. Elsewhere, the Turtles, now in their original garb, approach Oroku Saki to remind him of who he was – their greatest enemy – and that they need their help.
TO BE CONTINUED…
With the third issue, the plot finally starts to engage the reader and enhances this review‘s high notes. Tynion brilliantly shows a contrast in origins for Batman that almost bookends the issue. The visual recap allows the reader to engage in this reality better than when you only read present-day events. The characterization of Bruce also alters once his memories are reset. There is a clear distinction between the “softer” version dwelling with his “brothers” beneath Wayne Enterprises, and the harder, driven Dark Knight that emerges with his head clear. Freddie has a talent for conveying extreme emotional output through his eyes. You see Bruce’s expression of shock as Alfred embrace him, and how that enraged glare by his younger self contradicts the befuddled state he’s been in since the series began.
The surprises also keep coming. Besides the return of TMNT staple April O’Neil, the reader learns that it is NOT Oroku Saki under the mask of the Smiling Man. Rather, it is indeed Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker, reimagined as a ninja master. The cliffhanger of seeing the Turtles approaching their arch-nemesis for assistance shows the desperation that’s created with the loss of Earth-Prime Raphael. Again, the inclusion of TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman sketching the black-and-white Raph drives home the other-worldly quality of the character. Freddie’s design of April is gorgeous, and it makes the most sense for her to connect with Donnie first. The splash of the rescue shot was inspired.
The chemistry between brothers continues to remain intact and thrives despite the altered personas. By enhancing the narrative on the side of the Turtles and less on Batman plays to their strengths. As mentioned before, the loss of Earth-Prime Raph has a galvanizing effect on the brothers, especially Red Hood Raph.
I don’t know if there was anything remotely bad to report in this week’s review, except the plothole of Alfred’s beard remaining despite the restoration of Wayne Manor. Although comical, shouldn’t he have had his trademark mustache reappear like his tuxedo?
Freddie’s art is rich and textured and a joy to review. Bruce Wayne’s reclaiming his identity thankfully does not eclipse the Turtles realizing the fabricated reality. The cliffhanger is solid in that you don’t know anything about this version of Oroku Saki. The loss of Earth-Prime Raphael is the perfect subplot because of the Turtles’ lack of knowledge on Utrom technology. It’s only issue three in a 6-part tale, and like its predecessors they are only getting started. This week’s review was a lot easier to write because familiarity has finally been reintroduced to the story. You don’t get that sense of vertigo going into it this time and it’s all due in part to Tynion and Williams’ recap of the altered origin. Overall a great installment and come back next month for more “Crisis in a Halfshell.”