Volume 4 collects the “Shades of Grey” two-parter, and the first half of the thirteen issue “City at War” storyline. This consists of issues 48-55. If you’ve read my previous blog you’ll notice that this “ultimate” collection has skipped twenty seven issues and rushed ahead to the next big collaboration between Eastman and Liard. I understand that these are considered the “essential” issues, but they also bring in two characters from the missing issues, the villain the Rat King, and the masked vigilante, Nobody. Both have had encounters with the Turtles before, which do not appear in this collection, but the editors assumed that you would already know who they are.
Things have become fractured in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle household, Casey accidentally kills a kid, Splinter has lost his mojo, April is feeling constrained, and the Turtles are trying to deal with the rest of the Foot. With the death of the Shredder, an internal power struggle has erupted between various factions causing a mounting death toll. The Turtles insert themselves into it, only to realize they might be out of their depth and without a clear target, they’re simply adding to the chaos.
One thing I’ve noticed in these later issues, as opposed to the first ones, is how little dialogue there is now. In the first issues huge sections would be devoted to exposition and backstory. Not there is almost none. Most of the issues have little interactions beyond combat and the dialogue is minimalist. This fits with the art, which has now morphed into clean, black and white lines that are easy on the eye and incredibly fast to read. There is less to stop and look at now.
Also I think the publisher, IDW, got a little greedy here. They could’ve easily published the “City of War” story as one large volume, rather than split it in half. I mean I didn’t pay full price for the damn thing, but if I had, I’d be a little pissed off.For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.