The Ninja Turtles have been taking some much-needed R&R in Northampton, but if you read the last issue (if not, what are you doing in this review?!), then you know that's about to be rudely interrupted by the Foot Clan. Watching the team lick their wounds and find out how they can move forward has been a surprisingly touching read. It's far too often books swiftly pick up the pieces after a big event and attempt to outdo themselves, but this tonal shift is a wonderful change of pace and delivered a much more character-driven journey.
In this chapter, writer Tom Waltz aims for the characters who have been impacted the most by City Fall. Now, that's not to say it was a cakewalk for Donatello and Michelangelo, but they've been having a bit of an easier time coping. Additionally, they're handling the course of events in ways that don't have that big on an impact on the overall narrative. The previous issue jumped into Mikey's mind as he wrote a letter to his pizza buddy, and this one shows once again how Donatello's trying to make do with the limited technology in Northampton. Both can certainly be amusing and have potential, but Waltz wisely decides to set his sights on Raphael bonding with Alopex and Master Splinter attempting to reconnect with his son, Leonardo. These storylines aren't quite as moving as the previous chapter was, but they're well-written and absolutely engaging. The biggest dose of emotion stems from the development between Casey and April. The scene takes a bit of a toll on the pacing, but considering how much time the Turtles have soaked up in the series, it's important to see how the dynamic between the new couple is progressing and it also slightly improves our knowledge of the ooze.
Thankfully, Waltz and the other minds at IDW don't waste any time following-up on the last issue's cliffhanger. When the new mutant makes its debut (along with a new class of Foot enemies!), it makes such an impact that it feels like the moment could serve as the cliffhanger. However, the issue's far from over and we're treated to a pretty entertaining brawl and the ending... oh man, it'll get you beyond hyped for #32.
Artist Ross Campbell and colorist Ronda Pattison once again do a brilliant job giving us visuals that perfectly compliment the story's atmosphere. There's such a strong degree of charm, innocence and affection instilled in each of the characters and it'll draw every ounce of empathy you have to offer. They're not limited to thriving on the touching moments, either. When the action gets going, there's a great amount of speed behind the movements. Motion blur is skillfully used to sell the intensity of each punch, kick and weapon attack. Thanks to gorgeous coloring and praiseworthy character work, TMNT's art continues to live up to its compelling story.
As much as I enjoy Campbell's artwork, it's very distracting when the background completely fades away and we're left with just a solid color. I obviously have no idea if there was any kind of rush with the issue, but this happened quite a few times and, for me, it really pulls me out of the experience. I also have a couple of minor gripes with the anatomy, but it's not a big deal whatsoever.
It was a lot of fun, but some of the jumps between panels in the melee didn't feel fluid. For example, in one panel, the new mutant catches Donatello's bo staff and it seems like it'll be very bad news for the hero, but in the next, he's attacking one of the Foot assassins with his weapon.
After a couple issues of reflection and insight, the team is shoved back into even more chaos. That said, Waltz does manage to deliver a couple of heartfelt moments before bringing some fast-paced action back into the series' pages. With the addition of some seriously beautiful visuals, a cool new mutant and a massively cheerworthy final page, this yet is another issue that any TMNT fan simply cannot skip.