Welcome back, Nick's Ninja Turtles. You were only gone for a bit, but I sure did you miss you. Like many others out there, I was very skeptical about this show when the teasers and trailers first began to land. It looked far too kid friendly and I feared it wouldn't be something older fans could enjoy. Man, I was dead wrong. This show has been spectacular since the very first episode and I'm beyond excited to tell you that the return episode, 'I, Monster,' does not let us down.
This episode brings back a classic villain: The Rat King. He has control over rats and uses the sea of rodents to take over the city. However, he quickly discovers that his ability allows him to tap into Splinter's mind, too. 'I, Monster' has everything we've come to love from the series. I've been blown away by how fun the action sequences are and this one has two fights that'll make your jaw drop or fill you with joy. I particularly love how they utilize slow motion, too. It's implemented just before a strike lands. Then, the split second before it connects, it jumps back to regular speed and makes the impact seem so much more powerful. It's not overused, so every time this happens is amazingly energetic. This happens when the Turtles face Splinter not once, but twice. Oh yes, the Turtles throw down with him in a training session and then while he's being mind controlled by the Rat King. Both times simply rock and the way The Rat King is taken out will astonish you.
As usual, there's plenty of sharp comedy. A lot focuses on Mikey, but all of the Turtles get a decent quip or two in there or are at least the focus of a laugh (Mikey: "I want a recount!"). I especially love the somber tone surrounding Splinter as the Rat King tries to make him believe he's more of a rat than a man. Additionally, the animation was impressive as a flowing sea of rats spread throughout the streets and the sewers. Just don't let PETA know how many were killed off-camera. Between the explosion and the pole falling over, there's a pretty high body count.
While I of course loved the episode, I do have some complaints. The Rat King looks solid (think a gothic cowboy with no dental plan and a skin condition), but his personality was painful at times. It's not that his motivation was poor, it's how he went about doing everything. The guy was constantly spewing forced exposition. I understand a lot of people might not remember the character's previous appearance, but seeing the generic "crazy villain talking to himself" routine went on for too long.
Also, mind controlled Splinter wasn't holding back (for the most part), yet somehow April dodges way more hits than she should. I get this is a show for all ages and striking April would definitely be shocking, but seeing her evade so many attacks was tough to swallow seeing as she's a total novice with her training.
Simply put, this show continues to be phenomenal. Whether you're a new or old fan, odds are you're going to fall in love with it if you give it an honest chance. This is a seriously fantastic time to be a fan of the franchise. The classic comics are coming back in collections, the new IDW comics are superb, and this program is ridiculously entertaining.
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine & IGN Entertainment. Be sure to follow him on Twitter if you also love the show!