TMNT Universe #25 – Spoiler-Free Review

There aren’t any Transformers comics from IDW Publishing out this week, but out today is the final issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe. Read on for the Allspark’s spoiler-free review!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #25
Writing: Ian Flynn | Art and colours: Nelson Dániel
Letters: Shawn Lee | Edits: Bobby Curnow

I admit: I haven’t been keeping up with news about IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics outside of reading the issues as they come out, so it was an unpleasant surprise for me that TMNT Universe #25 is to be the last issue of the ongoing anthology series; apparently, IDW is moving back to a “one ongoing with miniseries” model for the Turtles. That nasty shock, however, was assuaged by the pairing of two of my favourite creators on this issue: Ian Flynn, best known for his writing on the Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog comics for Archie and IDW, and artist Nelson Dániel, known to fans of the Hasbro Universe for his art (and on-panel death) in murder-mystery Clue and the cut-short adventures of Scarlett’s Strike Force.

Rather than the two shorter stories of most TMNT Universe issues, this finale issue only contains a single story. “Spirit Walk”, this issue’s sole tale, is focused almost entirely on Leonardo, the focused, spiritual big brother and leader of the turtles; and, fittingly, shows him delving into the mystical side of the TMNT cosmology with a visit to the Astral Plane. Leo’s quest, seeking to find the upper hand in the brothers’ conflict with the godlike Pantheon, is tied in closely with the plot of the ongoing TMNT series, but is explained well enough that the story can be read entirely standalone.

Without the goofiness of Michaelangelo, Raphael’s angst, or Donatello’s “mad scientist” vibes, Leonardo has a bit of a reputation as the “boring turtle”, but Flynn weaves a compelling story around his conflicted emotions about his father and his exploration of the otherworldly realm. It’s a nicely paced story, starting off slow and then escalating to its climax within the space of a single issue, before taking another quiet moment to reflect on the four turtles as a family – an appropriate capstone to the Universe series.
Dániel’s art is as gorgeous as ever; his lines are distinctive and characterful, lending themselves both to explorations of beautiful scenery and mystical, high-stakes action. As in Clue, he colors his own artwork, and there’s a clear difference between the dark, more “comic book-y” scenes in the real world and the bright, watercolour-like Astral Plane. Dániel’s panelling is a lot looser in these scenes, too, lending the whole thing an appropriately dreamlike feel.

While I’m sad that TMNT Universe is coming to an end, and that we’ll have to rely on subplots and miniseries for explorations of the wider universe in future, it’s been a great ride, and issue #25 is a great story that lets the anthology series go out with a real bang.

Had a chance to read this issue, or wondering how to jump onboard with IDW’s Turtles? Jump into the TMNT comics discussion thread on our forums, or join the chat in our Discord server!