Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Universe #9 Review: Escape The Wild Party Of Toad Baron


Alopex and Angel find themselves the unwilling guests of a wild party. Can they escape the dastardly Toad Baron?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #9

Writers: Sophie Campbell & Bobby Curnow

Artist: Pablo Tunica

Back-Up Strip: Brahm Revel

More from Comics

If you thought Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was nuts, how about the wild party of Baron Toad? It seems like the Ninja Turtles’ allies Alopex and Angel are in the thick of it without them. In many ways this issue picks up after the events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #66 from January. Alopex has been freed from both her servitude to the Foot Clan and being controlled by the immortal Kitsune. The mutant arctic fox is content to hang out in Northampton and meditate peacefully in the woods.

Image by IDW Publishing

Meanwhile, it seems as if Angel would rather be back in the city. She cannot get her “Nobody” armor to work properly without the aid of inventor Harold Lilja. His alliance with the Ninja Turtles is over, and his loss in aid is being felt. As a result of Alopex’s insistence, Angel joins her in a trek outside in the forest. Once there, they chat a bit about avoiding all combat entirely, and whether or not Alopex has any feelings for Raphael. Yet as always, their respite cannot last for very long.

Image by IDW Publishing

First of All, I Guess Alopex Hasn’t Seen Many Boats!

Due to finding a random rowboat (which Alopex calls a “canoe”), the pair explore a local river. The abundance of frogs barely gets their attention, yet the strange fauna soon does. A giant frog soon swallows them whole and spits them out before a strange area. Alopex and Angel find themselves in a maze of an underground cavern, filled with all sorts of strange and wondrous creatures. Yet the strangest of them all may be their bombastic host, the massive amphibian, the Toad Baron!

Image by IDW Publishing

The Toad Baron claims to be a masterful host of legendary skill. He also claims to be a member of the group of immortals manipulating the cast of TMNT, the Pantheon. As a result, Alopex and Angel want to make their escape, lest they be reunited with enemies like Kitsune or the Rat King. Unfortunately, the invitation of the Toad Baron is not a request. He can poison at a whim, and the food he serves is hypnotic. Is there any way for Alopex and Angel to crash out of this party?

Image by IDW Publishing

Sophie Campbell once again returns to the TMNT franchise, this time as a co-writer. She’s backed up by Bobby Curnow, editor and co-writer of the main TMNT series by IDW. Subsequent issues of TMNT Universe are set to feature Campbell’s art, as she aims to tell a tale about Karai and her Foot Mutants (including Koya, who Campbell co-created). Yet Campbell also seems to have an interest in Alopex and Angel, as this is the second story this year she’s worked on with them.

Image by IDW Publishing

In Addition, Toad Baron Makes for a Deadly Host!

The voices of the two leads are about right, with the pair being unlikely yet loyal friends. Introducing the Toad Baron and his crazy world takes up much of the issue. He reminds me a little of the “Punk Frogs” from the original 1987 cartoon (and Nick’s 2012 remake). They were mutant frogs created by the Shredder and named after warlords, mostly from Asia. One was named after Attila the Hun, another after Genghis Khan. The Toad Baron adorns himself mostly in Asian attire.

Image by IDW Publishing

Toad Baron insists that his Pantheon family members are not all alike, and he considers them boring. Yet it quickly becomes clear that his parties are full of unwilling guests, and he is a less than gracious host. Toad Baron is the most inhuman of the Pantheon so far, although Kitsune routinely assumed the form of a fox (a legendary figure in her native Japan). Fans of Danger Mouse may also recall that his arch nemesis there was another giant toad named Baron Silas Greenback.

Image by IDW Publishing

Much of this story seems like an opportunity to show off the artistic chops of Pablo Tunica. He’s a one man show here, drawing, inking, and coloring his work. Alopex and Angel always shine with a great artist, but the party of Baron Toad really lets Tunica go to town. It’s a bizarre shindig that features no end of fantastic guests. There are plenty of frogs and toads (both normal and humanoid), but also plenty of characters out of Lewis Carroll or Hayao Miyazaki. It’s a visual feast.

Image by IDW Publishing

“What Is Ninja” Finally Comes to a Conclusion!

Speaking of furthermore visual feasts, Brahm Revel concludes his “What Is Ninja” strip. I’ve often compared his style to that of Chris Samnee, and there continues to be a strong parallel. The strip has followed Jennika’s path from a street urchin to a Foot Clan assassin, and towards her redemption from that path. This time she follows Leonardo as she recounts her first meeting with Shredder and her assassin lifestyle. It is part of Splinter trying to teach her how to move forward.

Image by IDW Publishing

Next: See the Revenge of Metalhead in issue #8!

While every issue of TMNT Universe features two stories, the main story is often the core draw. This ninth issue is no exception. The direct involvement of Bobby Curnow enforces the idea that this isn’t some spare series; it counts as critical TMNT canon. The Pantheon have been constant thorns in the sides of the cast for years, and the addition of a new member is always big news. It will remain to be seen what role Toad Baron plays, and how our two heroines can outwit him.