I don’t have much experience with the title character, who is being properly re-introduced to the “Turtles’” current continuity after a mostly off-panel cameo in vol. 13. Save for fighting him as a boss in “TMNT IV: Turtles in Time” on the SNES. Yet I still felt his introduction here left something to be desired. Leo, Mike, Donny, and Raph have returned to Burnow island to help the Fugitoid with bringing the Utroms there out of stasis. Leatherhead makes his appearance early on, stating that he has been hiding out on the island for years after being mutated (in a nice callback to events from the “Turtles in Time” miniseries) and now wants to see what this world has to offer. The problem is that it’s soon implied and revealed that the mutant alligator isn’t being entirely truthful in a way that plays exactly into the reader’s expectations. Leatherhead’s character type is also a very familiar one without much to distinguish it. (Frankly, after playing the game all those years ago I was disappointed to read that this version of the character sounds downright erudite instead of a good ‘ol southern boy.) At least Mateus Santolouco provides some sharply detailed art for this arc. His work on this series over the years has established him as its definitive artist.
Things do pick up considerably for the two-issue story that follows. The action shifts back to New York and Splinter’s ongoing duties with running the Foot Clan. Tensions are running high between him and the clan’s spiritual benefactor, Kitsune, and it isn’t long before she makes her move. This is a nice little action-packed story that moves the ongoing story involving the immortals of this world forward while also giving the good guys a well-earned win. While this looks to be achieved through Splinter’s fighting skills, Leo’s strength of will, and *ahem* “divine intervention” the best bit is saved for the end. It’s always nice to see the good guys being shown to be as clever as the bad guys. Not the best volume in the series, but full of enough good stuff to keep me invested as the story rolls on.