There's a lot more to the latest version of IDW's Shredder than meets the eye. He's no longer just a skilled ninja clan leader -- he has a whole back-story involving resurrection and mystical elements. Shredder has had plenty of time to shine in the ongoing series (as well as in SECRET HISTORY OF THE FOOT CLAN -- a series which exists just to explain his origin), but honestly, we've never gone too deep into the character. We've often only seen the tough appearance he tends to give off, but in this issue, Paul Allor and Dan Duncan make him do something rare: open up to Kitsune. As he elaborates, we dive right into his head and a whole new element is adding to his mythos.
On the surface, it's a fantasy based story about the afterlife which is loaded with some commendable action scenes. It's every bit as badass as it is fascinating. But, as pointed out later in the issue, it's really a superb look at who Shredder truly is, what he wants in life, and the lengths he'll go to get it. It goes without saying that this issue will only further cement his status as a legitimately formidable villain.
I consider Mateus Santolouco's clean art the definitive look for the franchise's modern era, but former TMNT artist Dan Duncan returns for this issue and brings his grittier visuals back to the universe. His style's rough around the edges, a lot sketchier and absolutely oozes intensity at times. Considering most of the issue takes place in a twisted and fairly diabolical setting, I think it's an appropriate fit for the story and helps to further immerse us in Shredder's dark and tormented tale.
Honestly, my only complaint is the art can be a bit rough in some spots.
Even though City Fall was a Shredder-focused story, the ending made it crystal clear the publisher still has big plans for the character (and if you haven't read it yet, go do so right now). While SECRET HISTORY OF THE FOOT CLAN established his new origin and the primary series made him even more intimidating, this micro-issue does a remarkable job giving us a character-driven look at the infamous individual while also expanding his story. And, to top it off, there's some seriously pleasing melees in the issue. If you've already seen the star rating, then you should know by now that I strongly recommended this to anyone who has been digging IDW's TMNT.
Oh, and can we all take a moment to appreciate just how cool that cover is?