This issue is a love letter to wrestling and it shows. Stump is quite a fun character until the very last page. As a middle issue, it is a powerslam with high flying action and humor, sprinkled with more serious themes.
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DING! DING! New challengers are approaching Stump Asteroid, home of the biggest brawler’s paradise in Dimension X. Will the Turtles emerge as the new champions or will Stump Asteroid’s fiercest wrestlers knock them out? In the words of announcer Michael Buffer, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” It’s time for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES DIMENSION X#3, written by Aubrey Sitterson with pencils by Khary Randolph and colors by John Rauch.

READ: Need a recap? Catch up with our review of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES DIMENSION X#2

In the previous issue, the Turtles recruited the blind sumo Anemon and his friend, Eymo, with Hakk-r only having just missed them. This time around we find the Turtles tracking down Stump, the co-owner of the Intergalactic Wrestling Federation (or IGF) with his partner, Sling. Upon arriving, the Turtles immediately draw Stump’s attention and explain that they want to escort Stump back to planet Neutrino to testify against Krang. However, unlike prior witnesses, Stump has nothing against Krang because Krang made Stump and Sling a generous offer in exchange for their planet’s lumber rights.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

The Accidental Luchadores

The plot moves at a breakneck pace. After an angry outburst from Raphael, Stump sees that Raph would make a great wrestling personality. As a result, Stump makes the Turtles an offer: if Raph signs a contract and agrees to lose a match against Stump and Sling’s challenger, then Stump will agree to testify. After some encouragement from Leonardo and Donatello, Raph begrudgingly signs the contract; Michaelangelo offers to become Raph’s manager.

READ: Interested in this series? Start with our review of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES DIMENSION X #1 

Raph suits up in all black and faces off against Anthrax The Executioner, a four armed humanoid bug. After remarking that wrestling is fake, Raph learns the hard way that it is, in fact, very real. Anthrax unleashes his signature move on Raph, “the Burning Axe,” a suplex that has Raph seeing stars. However, Raph delivers a devastating kick to the charging Anthrax and goes on to win the match. This only “angers” Stump who claims that the Turtles ruined Grappleganza when unbeknownst to Raph, Leo, and Don, Anthrax was paid to lose the match.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

As a result, Stump has Don and Leo sign a contract to a new Grappleganza main event — the tag team championship. Their opponent is the Cryin’ Houn’, a dog humanoid that’s dressed as an Elvis impersonator and Hakk-r who crashes the party. We’re treated to an all out match once Hakk-r turns against the Houn’ with Mikey entering the fray to help defeat Hakk-r. Leo delivers a submission hold that makes Hakkr-r tap out to win the match. Crowd backlash ensues and the Turtles quickly leave Stump Asteroid immediately with Stump in tow.

Stump Steals the Show

The plot is so much fun in this issue thanks to Leo and Don suiting up as their wrestling personas “El Samurai” and “Superstar Donny.” Additionally, as someone who grew up watching WWE throughout my childhood, I can definitely relate to the way Mikey geeks out in this issue. The Turtles gel well in a wrestling event. They have an entertaining dynamic with Stump, a Vince McMahon-like figure who likes drama as much as he likes wrestling. I think Stump is the most interesting witness so far, purely because he’s a selfish megalomaniac and he knows it. The Turtles don’t like him, but they need him.

READ: Interested in learning more lucha libre? Here’s our review of the LUCHA MEXICO movie!  

In fact, I think the series was due for a larger than-life witness after the previous two issues tackled more serious underlying themes. Of course, there’s no denying that the decision to let a Hitler-like figure ravage one’s planet of its natural resources for huge sums of money is questionable. Stump also reminds me of President Trump given our current political climate. With their similar names, I think Sitterson kept this in mind while writing Stump. As a result, I think this issue serves as both a satire of the wrestling entertainment business as well as a love letter to it. For example, Cryin’ Houn’ wears a tank top that says “Houndamania,” a nod to Hulk Hogan’s “Hulkamania” attire.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Randolph’s Art Brings Grit to the Ring

The art is quite fitting given the appeal to nostalgia in this issue. It feels like old school comic art from the 80s and 90s. Randolph’s art reminds me strongly of Kevin Eastman’s art in the Mirage Studios run of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. As a result, the Turtles feel imposing with their stylized proportions. Even Stump looks sinister in his plaid bow tie and suit. Furthermore, there is something about Randolph’s pencils and inks that make panels feel incredibly dynamic more so than in prior issues; panels feel in your face like WWE camera angles. Overall, I think Randolph does an excellent job capturing the weight of each blow.

READ: Like ducks in your comics? Our review of DUCKTALES #0 is a quack of an adventure! 

John Rauch’s colors complement Randolph’s art to fit with the gritty tone of this issue. I particularly enjoyed the way Rauch uses red to emphasize anger and dramatic moments. However, I think color blind readers will have a harder time with this issue because of the liberal use of red throughout the story. Still, Rauch’s colors hit their high note with the Turtles in the ring. He denotes the audience with blue and white dots. Simultaneously, he emphasizes the action with complementary colors such as green and yellow. As a result, the colors are flat and stylized.


In conclusion, I think this issue is entertaining from beginning to end. This is thanks in part to the humorous dynamic that the Turtles have with Stump and the wrestlers. I think wrestling fans are going to get a kick out of this issue due to the WWE and lucha libre references peppered throughout. Hakk-r’s return to foil things was a welcome addition. As a middle issue, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES DIMENSION X #3 is a powerslam. Its high flying action and humor hit every note, and are thoughtfully sprinkled with more serious themes.

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