Mateus Santolouco is a titan. Somehow -- and I have no idea how he does it -- every single character is presented with a terrific amount of detail and life and, when present, the surrounding environments they're in are immersive. His style is lively and animated -- fitting the feel of the franchise -- yet filled with enough detail to avoid making it feel too cartoonish. As I've said every other time, his handling of action scenes is brilliant. There's a superb sense of movement with every strike thrown and they all pack a wallop when they connect. I really appreciate how onomatopoeias are sometimes incorporated in an organic manner instead of abruptly standing out. Add in Ronda Pattison's prominent and thorough coloring and this is yet another amazing looking issue of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.
As for the story, Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman and Bobby Curnow dedicate this issue to moving all of the pieces into critical positions. Nothing particularly riveting happens with the "good" turtles, but it's mandatory developments and they're all delivered in a solid manner. While Mikey, Donny and Raph are all taking steps that are required for the narrative, Shredder/Dark Leo and Splinter/Old Hob have the exciting material this time around. Shredder and Leo carry out their surprise attack against The Savate and it's a total blast -- especially thanks to the more than commendable visuals. Meanwhile, seeing Splinter do a "favor" for Old Hob is thrilling. It's not often we see Splinter in action and when we do, it's certainly a real treat.
Alright, so not having a follow-up of last month's cliffhanger is a bit of a bummer, but the decision to hold them off until Karai's 100% ready is understandable and, based on how everything is being handled, it'll likely be worthy of the wait.
If you haven't been reading the micro-issues (for shame!), you may feel a tad in the dark with two points. The first (Purple Dragons) isn't a big deal and will likely be expanded upon in the next issue (seeing as Hun's on the cover), but Donatello's contact may come off as totally random and you'll miss out on a reoccurring gag.
Also, I had an unintentional laugh when Shredder said a line to Leo which reminded me of The Lion King. Aside from that super minor point, this was yet another remarkable chapter. It may not be as exciting or cheer-worthy as the others, but it's every bit as important when it comes to building the massive story arc.
The pace slows down a bit when we're with the "good" turtles and understandably so. This allows the storyline to expand even more and with all of these factors shuffling around, you can really feel the conflict is reaching a boiling point. Meanwhile, the slower pacing with some individuals is countered by some legitimately exhilarating action scenes that you simply cannot miss. Dark Leo, Splinter, Shredder... they all get some time to show off how talented they really are and it's downright awesome. To make matters even better, this is all presented with some truly praiseworthy artwork. 'City Fall,' can you do no wrong?!