TMNT: Shredder in Hell #5 Review - Failure Is Producing Only Half A Comic
• Mateus Santolouco (Writer-Artist)
Shredder in Hell is one of the hardest comics I've tasked myself with reviewing. It's undeniably one of the most beautiful comics I've ever come across but the story is so disjointed it makes the series hard to enjoy. I'd almost like a textless version of the series to add to my collection.
After reading the last issue it became pretty clear that Oroku Saki was going to either be redeemed or come back more evil than ever. The path is set for the character but the resolution doesn't come at the end of the series.
I've felt like something was missing throughout this series and I've finally settled on context. If you're walking into this issue cold you're gonna be confused as hell, especially if you've made it this far without reading the main TMNT series. I follow the main book and I was still lost over 50% of the time.
Oroku Saki, Takeshi Tatsuo, and The Dragon God are all at war yet they seem to be aspects of the same person. Due to the dreamlike nature of the series, and lack of clarity it's really hard to nail down what is really happening. What is clear is that if the Dragon wins it will be very bad for humanity.
The throughline to all of this is Kitsune. She's been trying to resurrect Oroku since the beginning of the series but the ultimate conclusion comes in another series entirely. Shredder in Hell does not justify it's existence aside from being a companion piece to the real story. You don't really need to read this series at all.
I really hate coming down on the issue and the series as a whole. Mateus is my favorite TMNT artist. He also writes the series. I think to keep the entirety of the series vague and esoteric was a mistake. It seems intentional so I won't put fault at Mateus's writing ability. The problem is that the series is confusing and the ending ultimately doesn't resolve anything.
Is Shredder redeemed (Sorta)
Does he defeat the Dragon (Kinda, sorta, not really)
See ya in TMNT #100 for the ending you should have got here.
If the series was billed at the outset as a companion piece to "City At War" or a tie-in series I would have given it a pass but IDW didn't do it. This is an epic story and the grandeur of the art conveys the scale of the conflict effortlessly but without the connective tissue of the City At War storyline Shredder in Hell fails entirely. It's a pretty comic but you can't pass a class by doing half the work.