“City Fall” is over, and Shredder has won complete control of the New York criminal underworld, any traitor within his group has been ousted, and his most hated of enemies, the Turtles, are in full-on retreat mode. Yet, after attaining so much, is the Shredder up for a big fall?
The epilogue to the epic storyline that turned the IDW TMNT universe inside and out made the comics into a MUST READ for me ends the story in a unique fashion. For the first time, we're privy to the full thoughts and motivations behind the greatest foe of the TMNT, Oroku Saki, aka the Shredder (we were given a tantalizing glance in the Secret History of the Foot Clan mini).
IDW's version of Shredder is a refreshing change of pace from the Shredders we've seen in various TMNT incarnations. This version has prolonged his life via a bastard mixture of alien and mystical means. In a way, he's become like a Ra's Al Ghul, even trying to craft the perfect heir for himself, though unlike Ra's, he isn't as narrowed minded and is surprisingly adaptive to the curves life throws at him, and also unlike Ra's, he has an equally long lived, possibly mystical companion in Kitsune.
And just like Ra's, IDW's Saki is utterly terrified at the thought of death and the “dream” he's endured while sleeping for several hundred years. The only way to open himself up to us, the readers, is via his connection to Kitsune, who really is the only other person who Saki can relate to. Again, Kitsune is the greatest wildcard in the book, given she's supposedly a mystical fox god (or demon), and, honestly, we really don't know her game in all this, as she's played literally everyone in the book (save Leonardo... maybe). Still, it's intriguing to watch Shredder refuse to open up to anyone, even his own blood, Karai. That he relents and reveals some actual details to Kitsune just adds to the level of trust between them and their relationship throughout the series so far.
What we get with that reveal is the main crux of the story with Saki in basically purgatory, not in heaven or hell, but awaiting his reawakening. I'm really curious about the other mystical trickster they introduce in this one-shot. We never really get a name, just a chilling visual as he plainly states to Saki, “Yeah this is purgatory and you're just killing time. But if you want us to give us your soul that's just fine.” I won't spoil any more details of Saki's journey, but it's a good one. It fully crafts Saki into a well developed villain even more and hints at a possible future storyline in the TMNT comics.
I really enjoyed Dan Duncan's art on the original run of TMNT (and he's found a nice successor in Manteus Santlouco), and everything I enjoyed about it is on full display here. Duncan uses his panel space well and crafts some very nice, thrilling, surreal pieces of action. Likewise, the various hordes of demons and men in purgatory that he designs are great. I loved that this was literally a place were warriors go to die.
The micro still doesn't answer some questions other stories in the IDW TMNT verse have raised: namely, was it truly Saki who spoke to Karai in her dreams, or someone else? Then again why should it answer all the questions? It raises some more interesting ones and goes into the head of the big bad of TMNT. That's exactly what writer Paul Allor delves into and we get an interesting journey that appears to be doomed to repeat itself. With the end of “City Fall” and this story, I'm quite curious to see where the IDW Shredder goes next. Whatever it may be, this book and its creators have captured my attention for the long run no matter what.
4 out of 5