Despite its 21 percent "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made about four times as much money as it cost to make, which pretty much guaranteed that the absolutely most horrific-looking version of the Turtles would return for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
But it also guarantees that there are a lot of folks out there who are looking for some reason, any reason, to have faith in humanity after watching Out of the Shadows' first trailer. For those people, I have a soothing balm, and it's Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a six-issue crossover and joint effort between DC Comics and IDW Publishing that just started this week.
If there are two things that go together like wine and cheese, chocolate and peanut butter, or cookies and milk, it's Batman and ninjas. And if there's another, it's Batman and teenage superheroes. DC and IDW have tapped Batman-book veteran and Ninja Turtles fan James Tynion IV to write the series and Robin and Flash veteran Freddie E. Williams II to draw it. And somehow, even though the modern version of Batman and the Ninja Turtles both owe a lot to the same late '80s and early '90s comics era, this will be the first time the characters have ever met.
Lest you think this is the sort of crossover that lazily just pretends that its characters have always shared the same universe, the plot is, in fact, driven by the efforts of the Turtles, Shredder and the Foot Clan to find a way back to their own world, where Gotham City has never existed.
"In some ways, Batman is very much a teenager's dream of a superhero," Tynion — who's having a busy December "showrunning" not one but two major Bat-book events at DC Comics, Batman & Robin Eternal and Robin War — told Newsarama in October. "So you can see Michelangelo's enthusiasm; you can see Leonardo being completely enamored by this, like, perfect ninja warrior adult who is everything he wants to grow up and be; you can see Donatello loving all the gadgetry and what he'd be able to do if he had the budget to come up with anything his heart desired; and Raph would be a bit more hesitant on the whole thing, because to him, this is some lunatic wearing a mask, who is just a regular guy that throws on a Bat-suit, and all his brothers are worshipping him, but he's not buying it, not so quick."
Is Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 the best comic I read this week? No. But it does contain the following:
- Donatello fawning over the Batmobile.
- Batman trading verbal barbs with Shredder.
- The Turtles going up against Gotham's resident humanoid reptile, Killer Croc.
- A derisive reference to producer Michael Bay's initial, inflammatory hints that his versions of the Turtles would aliens.
- This panel: