Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures #2
Written by Matthew Manning
Art by Jon Sommariva, Sean Parsons, Serge Lapointe and Leonardo Ito
Lettering by Shawn Lee
Published by IDW Publishing and DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Following DC and IDW’s wildly successful Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, it’s a no-brainer for the two companies to mash up the popular animated incarnations of these properties in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. And while there is plenty of promise in both the premise and the creative team, the overall structure of this sophomore installment suffers, and the quality of the artwork fluctuates to the point of undercutting what should be a slam-dunk event.
Given that the first issue of this series didn’t actually have Batman and the Turtles teaming up, it feels like a bit of a misstep that the first third of this book focuses instead on the Joker and Harley Quinn’s perilous first meeting with Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady. It’s the epitome of a mixed bag, as Matthew Manning has the right intent and tone with the scene, nailing the Joker’s virtuosity for violence, but it ultimately misses the main point of why we want to read this book - to watch Batman and the Turtles mix it up.
Thankfully, with the book’s second half, Manning finally delivers, and that helps give this series a needed shot in the arm, with a great beat of Michelangelo accidentally reaching out and grabbing Batman’s face through an interdimensional portal. (“It’s… it’s a… a gargoyle, I think,” Mikey said. “A really angry gargoyle.”) The book is at its best when Batman and the Turtles snipe at one another, like Batman referring to the scrappy Raphael as “the little one” or Batgirl giving a lovestruck Donatello a bootful of rejection to the face.
While artist Jon Sommariva deftly balances between the styles of the classic Batman: The Animated Series and the modern-day Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show - particularly with the characters’ expressiveness - once the battle royale begins, the story begins to go off the rails in terms of both story and art. We’ve seen the heroes-misunderstanding-heroes structure plenty of times before, but with the right kind of fight choreography, it can still yield an action-packed and memorable story - unfortunately, neither Sommariva nor Manning deliver any innovative beats with these iconic characters, with Batman and Leonardo’s one-on-one feeling particularly truncated and perfunctory.
Additionally, with two inkers at his side, Sommariva’s artwork winds up getting increasingly sketchy and inconsistent as the fight ramps up, with Batgirl in particular getting distorted badly in a number of panels.
With some misplaced pacing and some uneven artwork, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures #2
feels like a book that has to make up some lost ground, which is a somewhat troubling sign given how easily a crossover with these characters should win over readers. But that’s not to say there isn’t the raw elements for greatness here - Jon Sommariva can clearly juggle Batman and the Turtles’ visual styles when he needs to, and Matthew Manning certainly has an enthusiasm and understanding of the characters that often yields to some fun (and funny) moments.
Now that the title characters are finally teaming up, maybe the third installment of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures will begin to live up to its promise.