Review – TMNT #81 (IDW Publishing)

Dance with the Rat King in TMNT #81

The Triceraton Invasion was ended in TMNT #80. The Turtles and April’s plan of transporting the Triceratons to Burnow Island has worked, for now. Now in TMNT #81, the Turtles have a whole new mess to deal with. With NYC in ruins, Casey Jones and the Purple Dragons, along with the Foot Clan, try to hold back gangs taking advantage of the city’s dire situation. Another being wants to take advantage of this situation as well. The Rat King is coming back to play in the city and he is ready to have a little fun!


TMNT #81 IDW Publishing cover A by Dave Wachter
cover A by Dave Wachter

TMNT #81 sets up a new story arc and shows where all of our characters stand at the moment. Waltz, Eastman, and Curnow use this issue to lay the foundation of what all the characters in the TMNT Universe are doing after the Triceraton Invasion. We get a good foothold on what positions they are in and what the new status quo is for the series. That means there is a lot of dialogue and story setup in TMNT #81, but the writing team handles it very well. For someone like me who is very invested in this universe, it was great to see where all these characters are at and where their allegiances reside now. I feel the team made the issue flow well and has me excited for this new arc.

I like the continuing feud between father and sons; it has made for some very interesting storytelling and has me excited to see where that leads. The team is also doing some interesting things with Casey Jones with him leading the Purple Dragons. April also continues to get a good spotlight in this issue. Having her as a scientist working with Baxter Stockman since the beginning of the series has greatly helped her character grow in new directions.


Dave Wachter has the art duties for this arc starting with TMNT #81. I am excited Wachter got the call for this story arc. His style fits the Pantheon’s “godly” looks superbly well. I love the way he draws the Rat King, with his stringy hair and wrinkled face. Wachter’s textured style works well with his character. There is a fantastic two-page spread in TMNT #81 that features Leonardo and Splinter both meditating. They both have a simultaneous vision; it is a beautiful piece of artwork. Wachter catches the details in the characters’ faces wonderfully and lays out the pages superbly well. 

I love the coloring Ronda Pattison does; she gives Wachter’s drawings a “painted” like feel to them. It is a darker color palette than what she uses with the other artist and it fits perfectly with his art and the story in TMNT #81.


TMNT #81 is a setup issue, but it is a good setup issue. The new status quo is set and the Rat King comes back to visit New York City. I am pretty sure there is also a heavy The Warriors homage going on in a gang fight scene. That being one of my favorite movies, TMNT gets bonus points. There are a lot of moving pieces and things going on in the TMNT Universe at the moment and this issue gets the reader caught up on all of that, or at least the major points.

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