Jennika’s First Solo Series Introduces An Old Flame
TMNT: Jennika #1
Writer/Artist: Brahm Revel
Publisher: IDW Publishing
The last few months have been pretty huge for the Turtles. A milestone issue 100, and tragic death, and the first addition to the team since the original four. Jennika, the beloved new turtle in yellow, has taken TMNT fans by storm. It only makes sense that she gets her first solo mini-series now that she has solidified herself as the fifth member of possibly the most iconic quartet in comics.
Since the traumatic events that have taken place over the previous story arc the team has been torn, and that includes Jennika. The turtles are all doing their own thing right now as they cope with their loss, so it only makes sense we get an arc following Jennika as she tries to find her own place in this new world. As she solos out to attempt to keep the “mutanimals” safe from danger outside of the Mutant Zone, she finds herself in a familiar place and also meeting a familiar face while helping what seemed to be a rogue rabbit-mutant fleeing from the designated mutant safe-zone. When she finds her target, she also finds the Purple Dragons also working on keeping the mutanimals safe from any possible looming threats. Leading this Dragon team just so happens to be her ex-boyfriend, Casey Jones. Although the encounter was brief, it was also awkward and thought provoking for Jennika as she recalls her romantic days before her change into a turtle. The runaway rabbit, also known as Vincent and in the hands of Jennika now, explains to her his reasoning for his escape from the Mutant Zone, which happens to be a drum gig he has at a secret mutant bar. Reminded by Vincent of her obvious penned up anger, she uses this opportunity as an excuse to let loose in the mosh pit. Jennika’s thrashing attracts the attention of a couple of pathetically threatened goons looking for a fight, but another old flame of hers steps onto the scene to prevent her from completely pummeling the outmatched bullies. This old attraction, Cylis, has also undergone a transformation into the mutant kind of his own and could not be happier to see his ex once the two recognize each other. Unfortunately for him, Jennika’s relief is not mutual due to how things left off between them, making for a difficult decision for her when he asks for her help with something that can potentially benefit her and many others greatly.
Brahm Revel did exactly what I hoped he would do with the first Jennika series, and that being the deliverance of the perfect introduction of a fairly new character that TMNT readers are going to have to get used to. Although there was no real backstory to be told, the flashbacks gave clever, although brief, insight to Jennika’s life before mutating and teaming with the Turtles. These flashbacks are important to help the brand new reader easily determine that Jennika hasn’t always been her turtle self, but has lived a very human life with very human romances and problems. The other important thing to establish with Jennika’s first series is her ability to be a badass. Revel nails it with the mosh pit sequence. Jennika having to be pulled off of two pretty big mutants is exactly the physical showcase she needed to display to convince everyone what she is capable of. I loved that every word of every panel felt to mean something and drive the story forward, not leaving any room for filler. If Revel can keep this pace of fast action and deep character development for the next two issues, readers will surely be talking about this story for ages.
There is nothing I respect more in the arts than a writer that has an artistic hand and uses their powers to make comics. Brahm Revel is another one of those very rare freak talents. Initially when I opened up this issue I was greeted with soft colors and line work I wasn’t really expecting. I felt like this was going to be a book directed for the youth market, but my curiosity and love for Jennika told me to keep going and see what happens. As I moved through the story I continued to appreciate the art more and more, and it was obvious this was not a story for the younglings. Although the style was somewhat simple, the framing was always perfect and never left me questioning what I was looking at. The only question to be had as far as visuals go is one that remains in question for every one within the story, and that being the type of animal Cylis has morphed in to. I initially thought horse or mole rat maybe, but mongoose and ferret were also tossed around, giving this book the touch of humor it needs to balance out the lingering constant sadness and despair with this character. The color pallet stayed soft with pinks and blues for the majority of the issue, with a couple of really green closeups of Jennika slipped in here and there smartly allowing the eyes to occasionally readjust and stay fresh. When I finished the story I realized that this lighter art style, although not a style I am usually attracted to, was the just the thing needed to keep a good balance to a darker story being played out. By the end of this issue I was convinced Revel’s talent does in fact span well beyond his ability to write, and I will be looking out for his name in the artist credits from here on.
With this being Jennika’s first solo series, the stakes are always going to be high with a new character of this magnitude. If IDW wants the masses to love Jennika like I do, this first issue needed to be both insightful and entertaining. Thankfully, the first issue was exactly what new potential readers needed to get in tune with the newest Hero in a Half-Shell and stay interested in her character development. Emotions are hit. The action is on point. I can’t wait for more Jennika!