Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series #5: Splinter (Comics Review)

Early last year, IDW Publishing did a 4-part mini-series in which it unveiled a new look at the history of the Foot Clan. Titled, well, The Secret History of The Foot Clan, it explained the bad blood between Splinter and Shredder, as well as other things about the Foot that I had never known before. And it was awesome. Writer-artist Mateus Santolouco did a brilliant job with it. And then IDW announced plans for several one-shots set in between its ongoing TMNT series that would each focus on a particular hero/villain, and having read a few of them, I have to say that they’ve done a decent job. Together, the micro-series and the 4-part have done much to inform me about the larger TMNT world, and it is all awesome.

The latest release of the Micro-Series is Splinter, the fifth in order of publication, and it takes a very interesting look at the history between the men who were once known as Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi, or alternatively, Shredder and Splinter. In many ways, the flashbacks in this issue inform more of what Mateus explained and showed in The Secret History of The Foot Clan and I found this issue to be a most fascinating read. Erik Burnham, who co-wrote The Secret History of The Foot Clan writes a gripping yarn about a father’s strengths and weaknesses, and artist Charles Paul Wilson II delivers some stunning visuals here.

TMNT Micro 005 SplinterTo start off with, David Petersen’s cover here is extremely good. It is quite stylized in its own way, but it captures Splinter in a rare moment of meditation and relaxation and I just love the composition here. For any fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this cover says it all about who and what Splinter is, and really, there couldn’t be a better representation of him, certainly not something that can match the interior artwork so well.

The story of this issue takes place during the events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #11, according to a note on the credits page and either issue can be read first without any discrepancies in the continuity. I don’t read the regular comics so I can’t verify that, but I find it interesting that Erik Burnham has chosen a moment like this to write this story, and the results are certainly beyond what I expected. Erik’s Splinter matches up to all the different incarnations of the character that I’ve seen over the years and his Splinter is most definitely a hero, a tragic hero yes but certainly a hero. And he is a father who cares about his sons, that point cannot be stated enough where Splinter is concerned. Erik’s writing is on-point in every single panel/page and he never misses a beat in Splinter’s story.

We see Splinter fighting against the modern Foot Clan even as he stands up to Oroku Saki in the flashbacks, or we see him as he is after the death of his wife, and Erik presents a very compelling and engaging vision of Splinter in the pages of this comic. This is certainly among the best representations of the character that I’ve seen to date, by far, that cannot be denied in any way.

The mesh of flashbacks with the ongoing story works well, but at several points I was confused because the chain of events presented in flashbacks here appears to be quite different to the chain of events presented in the flashbacks in Secret History of The Foot Clan. That is something that I cannot reconcile, and is the only point of contention I have with this issue.

The penciller for this is Charles Paul Wilson II, with colours by Jay Fotos and letters by Shawn Lee. Straight-up, I loved the artwork here. Wilson’s action scenes are certainly something to talk about, repeatedly, and there’s no getting around the fact that he draws a really lean-mean-badass Splinter. And his characterwork in general is really strong. Fotos’ colours are often darker than the norm in the present story, whereas the flashbacks are often… bright and cheerful, so that dichotomy was wonderful to see, especially in light of the events of the second half of the comic.

For my money’s worth, this issue was really good, and I’d really recommend it as a stand-alone issue you can read out of continuity.

Rating: 9/10

More TMNT: (The Secret History of The Foot Clan) #1-2; (Micro-Series) Bebop & Rocksteady.

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