Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my all-time favorite candy. There’s a commercial I remember with two kids. One has peanut butter, the other has chocolate. One drops the chocolate into the peanut butter, and they start arguing. “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!” “No, you got peanut butter on my chocolate!” Then they take both a bite and realize it’s the best thing ever. That sums up exactly how I feel about BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3.

I love Batman, and I love the Ninja Turtles; two different tastes that are surprisingly similar in some ways. Both properties have had their dark moments and their campy ones. James Tynion IV takes the middle ground in BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3 — not too serious but not too childish either. I worried that Batman alongside talking Turtles would be ridiculous, but this is a guy who has a crocodile man as a villain. Batman is sort of ridiculous on his own.

Same Bat-time, Same Bat-Channel

First, a quick recap of the past two issues. Donatello is a genius, but he gets his butt kicked by some Foot soldiers. He spends part of the first issue moping around and eventually decides to contact the best fighter he knows for advice — Batman!

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Donatello uses a dimensional portal to contact Batman in Gotham. In doing that he accidentally sends Bane into the Turtle’s New York while getting himself stuck in Gotham. This ends up being very, very bad. In issue #2, Donnie and Batman get some help from Lucius Fox to travel back to New York. Of course, when they get there, they find that Bane has caused quite a mess. Eventually, they meet back up with the rest of the Turtles, who have been trying to keep the city from totally falling apart, and begin planning to take down Bane. This leads us to issue #3, halfway through the miniseries.

In this installment, Batman and the Turtles try to take the fight to Bane. Bane has been in New York City without his Venom supply, so Batman’s plan is to take him down while he’s weak. Of course, this is only the halfway point of the series, so things don’t go as planned.

Moving Right Along

The story is pretty simple and moves at a good pace. The highlight action piece is a fight between Raphael and Robin that even leaves the other characters in a bit of shock. It gets a little dark in the best way, highlighting how different yet the similar these characters and their worlds are.

BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3 page 5
BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Tynion doesn’t try to surprise the reader with twists. He gives it straight to us and brings the enjoyment in watching the surprise of the characters interacting. We get to spend a good amount of time with Bane inside this issue and see how his Venom withdrawal is affecting him. I always enjoy getting insight into the villains, rather than just numerous scenes of them mustache-twirling and getting beat by the heroes. Bane evolved into a very complex villain since the days when he was just the guy who broke Batman’s back.

I’m a huge fan of Tynion’s work on DETECTIVE COMICS. I feel that the Bat-Family has gotten bloated in the past years, but the large cast works there. Tynion knows how to handle team dynamics and make every character feel like they have an important role. He brings that same skill to this book. Every character is true to their personality. I can identify the Turtles by more than just their mask color. Ryan Ferrier nails the dialogue, giving everyone a distinctive voice. They also all get their time in the spotlight. No one is forgotten or unused.

Damian Wayne Is A Brat

Few themes are running through the series — mainly taking responsibility for your actions, and believing in and finding confidence in yourself. Unfortunately, these have taken a back seat to the action so far. We see subtle bits which are good, but I’d like to see this further expanded upon. Damian is a great foil for Donatello. Damian is confident and cocky, even when he knows that he’s screwing up. Donnie is constantly down on himself when he has a lot more to offer the team than he realizes. I assume that, in the end, both will learn something from each other. I just hope it’s not slapped in our faces like an after-school special.

There is also a theme of family here, exploring the father and son relationship between Bruce and Damian alongside the brotherhood of the Turtles. I didn’t read the first BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES series, so I’m not sure if I’m missing something, but Splinter seems to take a very passive role in raising his “children.” Why isn’t he a little more involved and supportive? It’s obvious that Donnie is hurting, and the only one who acknowledges this is April.

BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3 page 5
BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Gritty Vibrance

It took me a few issues to appreciate the art by Freddie Williams II. At first, I thought it was sloppy, but the more I looked, the more it struck me. Williams fills in tons of detail with thick inks. Every bulging muscle and vein jumps off the page. The layout is exciting, with a ton of instances of characters popping out of the panels and crossing borders.

Jeremy Colwell brings it all together with his colors. The best way to describe the style is “textured.” Masks and costumes wrinkle and bend to the contours. The turtle’s skin looks like actual turtle skin. It’s dark and gritty, but not washed out and colorless.

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BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3

This might be my least favorite issue of the series so far, but don’t take that as a negative. That just shows how great the series has been. We’re at the mid-point, so things need to slow down and set up the final issues. I love the potential that this issue sets up for the remaining installments.

Seriously, I’m dying to see where things go after the final pages here. This is a terrifying version of Bane who feels like a real threat to our heroes. I expect to see things get even worse in the next two issues before the finale.

BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3 BY JAMES TYNION IV, RYAN FERRIER, FREDDIE WILLIAMS II, JEREMY COLWELL, AND TOM NAPOLITANO
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Summary
BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II #3 is an enjoyable crossover that could have been silly but ends up being a ton of fun. It finds the right balance between grit and camp, and stays true to its heroes from both universes.
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