Macro - Series Raphael: TMNT #4 Review/Rumination - Raphael does his best Wolverine Impression
Updated: Apr 17
• Ben Bishop (Variant Cover) • IDW (Publisher)
Raphael finally gets the spotlight in this issue. In many respects, this comic is a throwback to the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It also manages to build on the current series. It works as an effective bridge between two generations of comics while providing insight into the least understood or our heroes.
This is easily the darkest of the Macro-Series issues. I appreciate the complete change of pace but I do feel that the series doesn't go far enough. Kevin Eastman clearly has a Raphael story in mind he wants to tell but for whatever reason, he never takes the gloves off and cuts loose.
Synopsis - Spoilers
It starts as a normal Winter night. After hanging out with Casey Jones Raph gets captured by Agent Bishop and the Earth Protection Force. From there he's subjected to painful experiments and we're told that no normal person/mutant would have survived them. Eventually, Raph escapes and gets into a battle against an endless hoard of EPF forces.
While this is happening Alopex, Casey and Angel track Raph's location and attempt a rescue. At one point during the battle, Raphael manages to maneuver it over a frozen lake in Central Park. The ice cracks and right before Raph is able to use this to his advantage a sniper shoots him grazing him in the head and knocking him into the freezing water below.
Raph passes out and dreams of his father and mother. She tells him that she made him be the one who would never surrender and always fight. He laments as to how unfair that is. To be set on a trajectory of violence and loneliness from conception. Raphael reveals that all he wants to do is be a farmer and at peace.
Eventually, Raphael wakes up on the other side of a sewer drain and the fight with the EPF continues. Casey and the crew catch up to Raph but in his enraged state, he attacks Casey before recognizing who he is. The comic ends with everyone planning to deal with the fallout of the night's events. Raph slinks away to be alone and deal with things in his own way.
If this book had come out in the '80s '90s or even early 2000's Raph would have brutally murdered the EPF soldiers. That may have still happened but Eastman decided to tone down the gore so it doesn't really come across.
This may have been the best time ever to have Raphael go feral considering the themes of anger and uncontrollable rage throughout the issue. There's clearly a Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X undertone to this issue and its kind of disappointing that the violence was muted.
Also, in context with the regular series, it seems odd that the EPF didn't implant a tracker in Raphael. When the EPF captured Slash he was implanted with a mini nuclear device. It seems strange that Raph wasn't at least tagged.
Speaking of the EPF my worst fears finally came true, Agent Bishop finally captured one of our heroes. The outcome was just as horrific as I expected. Bishop is easily the scariest TMNT villain to this point but I think it's time to add another layer to his character. I totally get his motivation but one-dimensional character's get boring. We've been following Bishop's development for years not and it's kind of sad we're still at square one with his characterization.
This issue is beautiful with Kevin Eastman providing layouts and Ben Bishop on pencils. The tones are also great with Tomi Varga using the reds to draw attention to the anger and blood being spilled in the issue. The scenes with the EPF are also great because it shows just how dangerous Raph can be when he cuts loose. During all of the fight sequences, there is an endless number of soldiers hunting nearly blotting out the landscape. This contrast's nice to the figure of Raph doing his best to survive.
The comic also shows Raphael's shows his vulnerabilities as he is put down multiple times in his attempts to stop his attackers. . The issue isn't perfect but it's presented in a beautiful package and gets to the core of who Raph is. I was surprised when it was revealed that he would love to be a farmer. The revelation was pretty tragic considering the circumstances.
Looking at the series overall they have all served their purpose in adding additional depth to the heroes. Some more than others but they have all been solid.
The series will make an awesome collection when it is eventually released. If you want a definitive take on our heroes you can't go wrong with the Macro-Series. Even if you haven't followed any of the IDW comics, this is a definitive TMNT experience.