• Baraka

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2020 Annual Review - Poor Leatherhead

Tom Waltz (Writer) • Adam Gorham (Pencils)

John Rauch & Michael Garland (Colorists) • IDW (Publisher)

• Get it Now from Comixology

Way back in the conclusion of "The Trial of Krang" story arc (TMNT #75) Leatherhead made the unfortunate decision to kill Krang in the most brutal way possible by eating him. The storyline with Leatherhead then picked up in TMNT #85. In that follow-up, we touched base with Leatherhead who had started hearing Krang's voice in his head and seeing his visage as it taunted him.

TMNT annual 2020 depicts the ultimate consequence of Leatherhead's actions way back when. The annual also foreshadows storylines that may be developing in the main series. It's nice to see Tom Waltz writing a TMNT title again. I know he just left with issue #100 but it feels like forever. The strength of this issue and his run on the series has always been his mastery of immersion with this setting world and the characters within it.

The problem I'm having with the main book with Sophie Campbell taking over is that the world seems smaller and in many cases, the Turtles are being crowded out of their own series by series massive supporting cast. I believe that the line needs a second ongoing that focuses on their lives, the lives of their allies, and our heroes' interpersonal relationships when they aren't being ninjas. The Main book should focus on the Turtles doing cool ninja stuff.

This issue features heavy foreshadowing and checks in with several of the series antagonists. We check in specifically on Shredder, Karai, Rat King, and the aforementioned Leatherhead whose mind and body are being dominated by Krang.

The timeline seems a little off but it appears that the annual takes place between TMNT #100-104. The comic is framed around the Rat King and his quest for a new Powerful ally to fill the void left now that the Dragon God has been defeated (TMNT #100). After being rejected by Shredder, Rat King then checks in with Karai and her mutants before appearing again in the location of Alopex and Angel who are completing a mission for Harold.

Alopex and Angel notice the horrible new form Leatherhead as taken but before they can fully process what's happening Rat King instigates a battle between the three. Things quickly escalate from here. It's clear that Krang doesn't have complete control of Leatherhead's body but the mutant is still a massive threat to the two heroes as they try to put him down.

The most shocking aspect of the issue is Leatherhead and his new form. The visual is downright disturbing which is a credit to the linework from Adam Gorham. I'm very sensitive to body horror the images of Leatherhead lingered long after the issue ended. The entire comic is really dark with Rat King weaving in and out of the shadows which adds to the overall atmosphere and immersion of the issue.

TMNT Annual 2020 feels more like a continuation of Toms Lingering plot threads than anything going on in Sophie's run right now. I have a sneaking suspicion that once "The Last Ronin" is over Waltz may be coming back to the main title. It seems he has more to say about these characters which I think is great for the series going forward.

The biggest knock I have on the annual is that the Turtles don't appear in the book. I know the timeline is sketchy and I know the background characters and storylines need a place to develop but it's frustrating that the development is coming at the expense of the title characters.

Rating: 8/10