The ending of issue #5 ended with a resounding wet fart noise - all of Batman's villains were mutated into anthropomorphic animals and ready to spring on the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder. I was unimpressed.
Thankfully, this issue moves along at a brisk pace, and highlights the creative teams' strengths to achieve a satisfying conclusion.
Batman and Robin are clavicle-deep in mutant baddies, struggling to survive as the Shredder and Ra's al Ghul look on menacingly, each thinking about bigger plans for Gotham. The Turtles are on the cusp of returning to their New York, and are physically showing sings of failing mutagen. However, as we know in our hearts to be true to the characters, the gang decides they can't in good faith leave Batman and Gotham to die under the Shredder's thumb.
When the green machine arrive, they come in cracking quips and busting faces, and the real star of the brawl is Michaelangelo. It has to be said again that James Tynion IV writes an incredible Mikey, and he should be on IDW's short list for a Mikey mini-series if the editors ever determine he needs one; his humor shines brightly, as does the emotions he wears on his sleeves. Reading Tynion's Mikey is just....fun. Unabashed, pure, anti-ironic fun.
And then we get the fights that we've been waiting for since this damn mini started: The Turtles take on Ra's al Ghul. Batman takes on Shredder. Splinter takes on all the Arkham inmates. This works pretty well, right?
The Turtles battle against Ra's is very well done: the choreographed fighting is realistic and powerful - the sense that they're actually struggling against this one man makes perfect sense, being that he's got centuries of experience on his side. They even admit how difficult it is to bring him down, and it's only from their combined efforts that they can drop him.
That Batman/Shredder fight is done in an innovative way: A splash page.
The tiling of their battle is creative, and the initial clash in the foreground is very well done. However, after waiting an ENTIRE series for THIS fight, this condensed brawl just seems a little hollow. I was hoping for bigger, more violent, more action - these are two of the top hand-to-hand combatants in comics! Again, Freddie E Williams II has done a phenomenal job on this series - his turtles are different yet similar in that fantastic style that Mateus Santolouco has mastered (I'd rank Santolouco as the best Turtles artist I've seen, with Williams in the Top 5). His shredder looks terrifying, his Batman formidible. So cramming this into such a small space? A bit disappointing.
Splinter literally mops up everything else, which stays true to his characterization in this series: Batman knows how damn good at martial arts Splinter is - we've seen Splinter fight Bats and look very good, so it only makes sense that a fighter as-good-as-if-not-better-than Batman can take out fellow mutated animals. I just wish we could have SEEN it! We get one panel of Splinter finding Harley Quinn's giant fucking mallet (YES!), and it precedes other peoples' battles. We next see Hamato Yoshi in front of a bunch of unconscious Arkham inmates. Blech.
But as disappointing as two out of three fights were, the issue is still a rollocking good time. The Turtles make it home thanks to April, Casey, and Harold keying on their mutagenic signature, and Bruce takes Damien home to bond over Bat-tech. All the loose ends are wrapped up, and there's a touching scene where Raph has to say good-bye to Bruce.
That has been one of my favorite developments of the series - Batman's and Raphael's relationship. Tynion has found equal ground for them to stand on, with Batman serving as a mentor to the headstrong turtle. Of course, they're two of my favorite comic characters, so my bias makes this even more powerful, BUT STILL!
LOWDOWN: It won't leave you giving a standing ovation, but it was satisfying in a way where you can't be disappointed with it as a whole. Maybe this will work better as part of a trade, but Tynion and Williams gave a great effort, focused on their strengths, and made this crossover what we hoped it would be.