Credits: Gary Carlson (writer), Frank Fosco (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inks), Chris Eliopoulos (letters)
Pizza-Free Summary: Raphael creatively uses the remains of his rope to save himself from falling. Meanwhile, a drunken Casey is accosted by a street gang. He’s shot during their scuffle and taken to the hospital by Donatello. Elsewhere, Michelangelo and Leonardo watch a news report on the appearance of giant bats in Midway City. Leonardo leaves in the Aircar to investigate. An injured Raphael returns to Casey’s place and tells Michelangelo where to find Shadow. Michelangelo follows Shadow’s trail to a church, where she’s being baptized in a service attended by her grandfather -- Big Tony. Michelangelo causes a commotion and sneaks out of the church with Shadow. He brings Shadow to Casey’s hospital room, where she’s reunited with her adopted father.
- Big Tony is the father of Albert Puzorelli, Shadow’s father. Tony claims he had no idea that he had a granddaughter until the Foot Clan gave him the information.
- After Midway City authorities killed some of the gigantic bats, the bats turned human. Leo and Mikey suspect mutagen is the culprit.
What the Shell?: As presented over the past two issues, the Foot Clan’s plan makes no sense. They inform Big Tony of his granddaughter’s existence, kidnap her, and then arrange for Raphael to take her back by killing Big Tony a few hours later. For some reason, one of Big Tony’s goons just assumes that the Foot Clan is taking Shadow back after they spot Raphael…but why? What’s their motivation for taking the kid back? If they wanted Big Tony dead in the first place, why go through this elaborate ruse? Also, the giant bat subplot seems problematic. Leo and Mikey assume that Splinter “has” to be in Midway City, but they have no way of knowing if he’s connected to an entire group of gigantic bats. Issue #5 heavily implied that Splinter turned into a bat after being bitten by one when going through an escape tunnel underneath the Dragonlord’s lair. Now there are dozens of these giant bats, and Splinter for some reason wants to join their convention?
Total N00B: Big Tony has a past with the Foot Clan (“We haven't had trouble with the Foot Clan since that nut Oroku Saki was killed!”), and I have no idea if it’s a retcon or a reference to a story from the Mirage days.
I Love the '90s: From the letter column: “No diggity, no doubt...you guys still make the Turtles better than ever!”
Review in a Half-Shell: Charitably, I’ll assume this story arc reads far easier if you’re familiar with the prior Mirage continuity. As it stands, it’s hard to discern the villains’ motivations, and the revelation that Shadow is the granddaughter of a mob family comes across as rather arbitrary. If Carlson is simply reviving story threads left by previous writers, that’s fine, but there doesn’t seem to be enough context given to fully appreciate what exactly is going on. In addition to the fuzzy logic behind the Foot’s plan, the arc also leaves behind a few loose ends -- the details behind Charlie’s murder remain unrevealed, and there are a few scenes thrown in featuring Big Tony’s nephew Joey, who’s having an affair with one of Tony’s mistresses and is apparently eager to replace Tony in the organization. Given that this is a low-selling B&W title, I’m not sure how hopeful we should be that resolutions are coming. And that subplot with the giant bats in the very comic-booky named metropolis of Midway City doesn’t sound too promising, either. Speaking of which, I’m not sure if the general public in the original Mirage continuity is even aware of the existence of mutagen or anthropomorphs; if not, this seems like a pretty casual way to bring them out of the closet.
The drama between the characters isn’t quite so frustrating, thankfully. It seems as if the Casey Jones of the original continuity has a bit of a drinking problem, and while it’s not the most admirable way to present the character, having Casey go off on a bender is a fairly realistic response to the trauma of losing his child. The Turtles feel obligated to babysit him, and April of course has to deal with the loss of Shadow and Casey’s behavior. It’s a fairly adult drama in the middle of the action, and to Carlson’s credit, he’s rather consistent about including human scenes like this in his storylines. Many of the elements that make TMNT work are in this book, but occasionally the stories are just too frayed around the edges.