Pullbox Reviews: MMPR / TMNT #4 – It’s Mutant Ninja Morphin Time!

We know how this is all going to go. Rita Repulsa and the Shredder have joined forces to take on their common foes. Now, with their forces combined they’ve been able to do something that neither of them has ever been able to accomplish before. The Power Rangers have been separated from the Coins that connect them to the Morphin Grid, and the Turtles have been forced out into the open. In the past, that could have spelled disaster for our heroes… both Mighty, and in a Half-Shell.

What Rita and Shredder couldn’t have anticipated, but every reader out there should have (also, it’s right there on the cover…), is that these two groups would work together well enough to trade strategies. Under the tutelage of Master Splinter, the now powerless Rangers have taken to the shadows. Their goal is to slip through the forces of the Foot Clan, infiltrate the Technodrome, and rescue their missing friend and ally, Tommy. Meanwhile, the Turtles have allied with Zordon, who has given them access to the Power Coins so that they can become…

Wait for it…

Mighty Morphin Turtle Rangers! And April O’Neil… because there are always at least five Rangers and Raphael wouldn’t do pink. Plus, over recent years April has gone from sideline fodder to a badass in her own right.

I didn’t want it to come to this, I swear…

I saw it. Another TMNT crossover. I figured we’d seen enough and I was gonna let it go…

And then (that’s right, you know what comes next)…

I read it.

Bringing the two groups together could have gone horribly wrong, but Ryan Parrott finds the Rosetta Stone that makes it work. He follows the paths that have made Rangers and Turtles fan favorites for decades, letting the characters do what they’ve always done. New friendships are formed, new alliances made, and then Parrott gives us exactly what I was hoping to see when I first saw this project coming. Turtle Rangers! For capturing the sheer joy Michelangelo would have to feel as Power Coins are held and poses are struck, Parrott deserves the highest of high fives. On the other side of the equation, Parrott also does some great service to the Rangers. No big shock there, as he’s spent some time with them on Boom’s Go Go Power Rangers title. He’s taken established personas who, over time, have been caricatured to fit certain roles. He’s dug into those roles, and fleshed them out to give them believable motives, secrets, and goals. The result here is more of what fans have always loved, and enough respect for the source material to build on it in a way that makes these fictional characters come across as more effective, fully realized people.

Simone di Meo takes charge of the story’s visual aspect, and brings some pretty dynamic action to the page. The Turtles’ design is a sleeker version, more in line with the Nickelodeon series (2012-2017), with a bit of a manga flair. The Rangers are given new looks to suit their current status as non-powered, but still warriors ready to fight evil. The only problem that I can come up with is that on some pages, where the action is heavy and there are a lot of people (Rangers, putties, Foot Clan soldiers) in play, it got a little tough to tell everyone apart. That is a small price to pay for some of the high end visuals we’re given, though, particularly in the way di Meo uses panel arrangements to capture some of the title’s bigger moments (It’s Morphin time!). Helping to flesh out di Meo’s illustrations falls to colorists Walter Baiamonte and Igor Monti. No big shock that color is going to play a big part in these pages, with our chromatically themed heroes, and it’s great to see that this team has all of the effects in hand. Baiamonte & Monti give the book a lively look, full of energy & zip.

Then there’s Ed Dukeshire. If you understand all of the elements that make a comic work, you know that lettering is key. If you don’t believe that, you have the privilege of never having seen an example of really bad lettering. Dukeshire is one of those in the business who gets it, and he provides just what needs to be shown on the page. If it’s a few boxes of unobtrusive dialogue, so be it. If it happens to be a group of turtles brandishing Power Coins and calling out their respective dinosaurs… well, I’ll just say this: It. Was. Brought.

First, the Power Rangers teamed up with the Justice League. Then the Turtles found themselves in Gotham City, working with the Dark Knight. With every new crossover, I wasn’t sure how the whole thing would come together. So far it’s been a blast! In all honesty, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was destined to happen, and might have actually been a more natural fit than any of the others. Still, it’s great when you see something coming down the pipe that could have ended in disaster but manages to pull off something pretty cool instead. With one issue to go in this run, all we have left is to see if this team can stick the landing…

Final Score: 10+

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