Family in “Mutant,” Family in “Ninja,” Family in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 70

by Patrick Ehlers

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 70

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

Even though the title of this series may sound like four nonsense words jammed together for maximum silliness, there is a single thru-line that unites all four of them. It’s not immediately evident what that commonality is, but the final issue in the “Desperate Measures” story arc highlights how themes of “family” are relevant to both the Mutant and Ninja parts of our heroes’ lives. They are stronger when they work and fight together, naturally, but their greatest strength is their ability to prioritize that family over everything else.

And of course, what the Turtles value is strongly demonstrated by what their enemies refuse to value. Agent Bishop, having essentially already lost is ability to capture/kill all the mutants, sends his remote-controlled-Slash on one last rampage. It’s like the old “shoot the hostage” axiom from Speed, but instead, he flattens his own grandfather.

Artist Mateus Santolouco’s action storytelling is characteristically on-point: check out how that first panel slants up, reinforcing Slash’s trajectory, while the second panel of grandpa’s face is narrow and squat at the bottom, as though already implying the weight of Slash’s landing. We get a SPLATCH and a wheelchair caught in a blood tsunami in the next panel, but Santolouco is able to convey all of this violence without actually showing it, leaving the grizzliest bits to our imagination. Naturally, that turns the audience even further against Bishop, and his anti-family agenda.

Meanwhile, Hob continues to refer to his Mutanimal compatriots as “family.” Writers Bobby Curnow, Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz keep popping that language in there, even when our heroes aren’t always making the noblest decisions. Consider Hob with a gun to Wesley’s wife’s head — Mikey starts to register an objection to their methods but Leo (Leo!) jumps in to defend his actions.

As Mutants, they are all brothers and sisters and need to support each other. That idea comes back around at the end of the issue, when Leonardo suggests starting a new ninja clan — Clan Hamato. There’s unity in being bipedal, talking animal-men, but there’s also unity in being ninja.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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