Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #8 Review: Glitch In The Shell


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles face a threat from within! Is a teenage robot Ninja Turtle too much for them?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #8

Writer: Ryan Ferrier

Artist: Adam Gorham

Inker: Joshua Hixson

Colorist: Ronda Pattison

Back-Up Strip: Brahm Revel

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As more of who we are is based on what we do involving technology, what becomes of identity? Out of all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Donatello faces this question the most. Throughout the IDW incarnation of the franchise, he’s faced some hard questions. When reincarnation was introduced as a critical element of their origin, Donatello had to grapple with the existence of the metaphysical. Now he revisits his time within a machine and how close he came to the brink.

Image by IDW Publishing

Often spending so much time with machines that he may as well be one, Donatello’s time within the Metalhead robot wasn’t soon forgotten. Now he’s rebuilt it, but a copy of his personality came attached. The big difference is now Metalhead is a robot that wants to be a Turtle, instead of a Turtle within a robot. It wants to be Donatello, while being aware that it can’t be. At the same time, Donatello’s memories of his maiming by Bebop and Rocksteady are driving Metalhead insane.

Image by IDW Publishing

Metalhead’s Harder to Program Than a VCR!

Metalhead wants to kill Donatello and take his body, but it can’t because it thinks it is Donatello. Fleeing in despair, Donatello has to rally his mutant ninja siblings to stage a last intervention. The trio are in disagreement about Metalhead (or “Metal-Don”). Raphael considers it little more than a threat, having earned a distrust for robots due to Baxtor Stockman. Michelangelo sees it as a cool dude to hang out with. The truth is somewhere in the middle, as Donnie plans to track it down.

Image by IDW Publishing

To the Turtles’ dismay, they find that Metalhead has found a newer and larger mechanical body. Intent on trying to mechanically process past emotional trauma, Metalhead seeks out the power core of T.C.R.I. The massive power surge could short out the robot for good, or turn it into a walking bomb. Donnie is eager to talk Metalhead down, but the robot won’t listen to reason. Can the four mutant Ninja Turtles take down their robotic double? Or will lasers and cold precision win?

Image by IDW Publishing

Ryan Ferrier crafts a compelling story within the TMNT universe edited and maintained by Bobby Curnow. Metalhead acts as a personification of Donatello’s cold logical side. The part of Donnie which obsesses over machines or even is willing to do morally ambiguous things such as fake an alliance with the Shredder. It also acts as a “what if” regarding Donatello’s most harrowing experience of his life—how he could have reacted if he’d never regained his physical mutant body.

Image by IDW Publishing

The Best Art a Robot Turtle Ever Had!

In addition, Metalhead has quickly become yet another compelling character to IDW’s TMNT universe. A tragic villain at heart, Metalhead isn’t really evil or cruel. Instead it is a robot trying to solve an emotional problem with binary and computation. It never asked for its existence, nor the memories which became part of its core program. Its desire to rid itself of emotional trauma which doesn’t compute may resonate with nearly everyone who’s gone through something horrifying.

Image by IDW Publishing

Adam Gorham produces another solid effort on art alongside regular series colorist Ronda Pattison. Joshua Hixson’s presence on inks is noticeable, suggesting some extra effort to meet the issue’s deadline. Some panels have a sketchier look to them as a result, but they all look terrific. Metalhead goes through two designs here, and his bulkier secondary body is pretty impressive. Gorham conveys emotion very well, in addition to some shell kicking action sequences.

Image by IDW Publishing

Brahm Revel continues his “What Is Ninja” strip at the end. His story fleshes out the backstory of Jennika, a member of the Foot Clan who used to be one of Shredder’s personal assassins. Her memories are juxtaposed alongside observations of all four mutant Ninja Turtles. This time it’s Michelangelo, who saves a jogger from a small army of muggers, only to have her recoil in horror. It seems Jennika first met someone from the Foot while in prison, and lost her during an escape.

Image by IDW Publishing

Jennika Is Another Great Addition to the Universe!

Despite the fact that the main TMNT title revels in long term plotting, Jennika was an exception. She emerged out of nowhere after #50, when the Shredder was finally defeated. Her caste of Foot Assassins was introduced during the “Northampton” arc drawn by Sophie Campbell, but it’s unknown if she was among them. Jennika’s been a welcome addition to the cast, adding another female character to the cast. Therefore, an origin for her is due to flesh out her backstory.

Image by IDW Publishing

Next: Metalhead 2.0 begins in #7!

Revel’s artwork continues to remind me of Chris Samnee. He has a simple yet effective style, with strong line work and use of colors. Yet his strip is quickly read as all of the backups have been to TMNT Universe. The main stories continue to be the main draw, as Bobby Curnow’s extension of the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to pay dividends with expanding on some already great subplots. Could a Metalhead versus Slash story be next? This is a shell of a good read!