First and foremost, let me point out that, prior to this issue, I have zero experience with the X Conspiracy storyline. I love IDW's TMNT and, seeing as this is offering even more of them, how could I possibly say no?
Even though this is technically part three of the event, writer Ed Brisson makes the issue very new reader friendly. On top of an opening recap page which gets all of the basics out of the way, Brisson never overcompilcates matters by incorporating too many elements for potential new readers, either. There's the briefly teased villain which does indeed link all of the factors together. The X-Files group is swiftly introduced and their mission is organically explained yet again. And then there's the Ninja Turtles and it's quickly addressed why they left the city. It's all very well-written and the pace moves along nicely, so even if you have no experience with either franchise, it's very unlikely you'll feel left in the dark. As for what unfolds with the plot, it's delightfully lighthearted and full of fun. I won't spoil any of the developments, but I will say it allows for some very amusing banter and it seems like there's even a little jab at the previous controversy over the upcoming TMNT movie.
Michael Walsh (pencils), Adam Gorham (inks), and Jordie Bellaire (colors) are able to capture the comedic yet inhuman nature of the story. It's a slightly animated and clean style which goes heavy on the shading in just the right moments to benefit the tone. Aside from the bland pizzeria, the locations also compliment the issue's narrative (i.e. the dim sewer, the creepy forest) and certainly feel like environments that would make you "want to believe" something's out there. TMNT's had some solid artists, but I really enjoyed Walsh's take on the characters. One moment, they look friendly/innocent and like characters you'd want to hang out with. The next, he can definitely sell their more badass sides. I'm absolutely in love with one moment where Leo's standing in headlights as he has his swords equipped. Everything from the perspective to the shading makes it a seriously cool panel.
Despite being part three of the story, this issue has a number one slapped across the cover. Because of that, Brisson needs to make sure new readers -- such as myself -- don't feel lost. Needless to say, that means there's quite a bit of exposition, even after certain things are explained on the opening page. It never feels like an info dump or anything along those lines, but it's definitely noticeable. Also, while this issue will likely lure more TMNT fans over, I can't imagine too many of them continuing to follow the event based just on just this experience. It's most definitely a good time, but a very large part of that is thanks to the heroes in a half shell and another group which apparently only plays a role in just this story. And aside from an amusing remark or two, I never felt a particularly strong connection to the Lone Gunmen.
As a huge fan of IDW's TMNT, it's great to see the team step outside its comfort zone. Sure, they're dealing with mutants and aliens in their own book, but the prospect of them interacting with an entirely different franchise is most definitely appealing. While this absolutely feels different than the usual that's going on over in their primary ongoing, there's still a sense of familiarity with how they're written and how the story's handled. Fellow fans of the TMNT run should definitely find this to be a very satisfying stand alone adventure. Whether or not this'll motivate them to keep up with X Conspiracy is a whole different story, though.