Credits: Gary Carlson (writer), Frank Fosco (penciler), Mark Heike (inks), Pat Brosseau (letters)
Pizza-Free Summary: Deathwatch escapes in his spaceship, while Leonardo discovers that Donatello has been mortally wounded. The armor molts away from Donatello’s body and unexpectedly merges with Lurch. Lurch develops a new body and files away. Vanguard orders Wally to teleport Donatello’s body to his ship to receive life support. Inside the Astral Plane, Donatello tries to contact Splinter. Meanwhile, Raphael dons Shredder’s armor and kills the remaining mobsters. Foot ninjas come out of hiding; when one demands he return Shredder’s armor, Raphael cuts him and demands loyalty from the rest of the clan. Raphael travels to Big Tony’s home and forcefully brokers a peace agreement between the mob and the Foot Clan. While leaving, he’s brutally attacked by the rabid Splinter, who still remembers that Shredder killed his master years earlier.
Continuity Notes: For the record, fifty-two of Big Tony’s men were killed during Raphael’s attack. Also, Raphael tells Big Tony about his nephew’s affair with his mistress before leaving his office.
Review in a Half-Shell: So….what exactly is Raph’s motivation for leading the Foot Clan? The decision comes out of nowhere and doesn’t seem to fit Raphael’s character, “bad boy” or no. To be fair, the story does have Raphael acknowledge in his inner monologue that he’s surprising himself when he agrees to teach them, so perhaps Carlson is setting up the idea that Shredder’s armor is somehow possessing Raph and influencing his actions. If that’s the case, I guess I can buy it, even though this is coming across as more arbitrary “change for change’s sake” plotting at the moment. I’m not really enamored with the short, squat version of Shredder’s armor anyway, so the quicker this is over the better, honestly. I also wonder why the story is so intent on giving Raphael a body count -- fifty-two confirmed kills, to be specific. Are we really better off with a Raphael who’s killed more people than the Green River Killer? Again, if this is all foreshadowing for a possession storyline, that’s somewhat defensible. But if not, it reads as empty shock value, something I thought the book had already moved beyond.
As for the never-ending Deathwatch/CyberDonnie drama, I don’t think there’s any need to repeat myself. At the very least, there now seems to be an effort to actually bring this nonsense to a close. The execution is extremely flawed -- the entire sequence with Lurch feels needlessly chaotic and this issue has yet another instance of Donnie’s brothers mocking the idea that he’s dead -- but hopefully this is all leading to some form of resolution. It’s amazing to me that Carlson has allowed this storyline to drag for so long, given that his normal inclination is to barrel though the stories as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there’s very little that could save this issue. Both of the main plots leave me cold, and the little moments of humor and brotherly bonding are absent. The cliffhanger with rabid Splinter seems promising, and it’s the only indication so far that Raph donning Shredder’s armor has a story function, so maybe things will pick up next issue.