Hello, I’m a unicorn. Every great villainous organization has an army of faceless underlings. The Empire has Stormtroopers, Malekith has that creepy Dark Elf army, and Hydra has its foot soldiers. If you’re anything like me, you start to wonder about the mooks being killed by our heroes. Do they have families? How did they get involved with this evil organization? Do they know that they’re the villains, or do they think that they are the good guys? What do they talk about on their coffee breaks? Are they frustrated that their superior numbers and training cannot take our those rebels with “can do” attitudes?
This issue delves into the life of a low level Foot Clan initiate named Tomi, a teenager who joins the Foot Clan after his dad is killed in the clan’s service. Although they don’t outright say it, I suspect that the Turtles unknowingly killed him. He works at the coffee shop that April frequents, and they are friends. Tomi is a talented musician and has started teaching his little brother, Jiro, to play the guitar. Since his Dad is gone, he’s become the man of the house, and is really close to his family. All in all, he’s a pretty likable guy, and that’s what makes the story so sad. Since the cover actually spoils the ending (seriously what is with that?), I don’t feel bad giving it away as well. He is killed by Raphael in his first battle. Raphael, of course, did it in self defense, but he still did it without remorse. It makes you wonder about the kind of heroes you’re rooting for.
Even more tragic, though, is that when Tomi is brought home in a body bag, his sweet little brother, who is about eight or nine, promises his mother that they will have revenge. This could go two ways, and neither of them are preferable. Jiro could either die in his first battle against the Turtles, like his brother and presumably, his father, or follow in the Shredder’s footsteps (uhh… no pun intended). If you remember in my TMNT #1 review, Oroku Saki was a little boy when Hamato Yoshi killed his brother, Nagi, over Tang Shen. Jiro would start training with the Foot Clan, become the most skilled out of all of them, and eventually try to get his vengeance on the Turtles. Either way, the cycle of vengeance will continue and it will not be pretty.
This issue is great. Even though you know that Tomi is going to die, every part of you wishes that he wouldn’t, and it’s even more heart wrenching that his brother will choose to follow the same path. I love stories told from the underling’s perspective, because I find them very interesting and they usually add a different perspective to the main protagonists. This issue actually reminds me of the Samurai Jack episode, “The Tale of X9,” which was equally tragic. The episode follows a sentient killer robot called X9 who grew to love a puppy named Lulu. He is blackmailed into coming out of retirement and trying to kill Jack in order to save the one thing he cares about. Like this issue, you root for him, even though you know that he’s going to die, and are sad when the hero wins. If I had one criticism, it would be that I’m not crazy about the artwork, which is fine on the Turtles, but makes the humans look strange. It’s a minor criticism, and doesn’t detract from this great story. So what are you waiting for? Read it now.