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By Jarrod Jones. Company crossovers feel like they’ve gone the way of the chromium cover, haven’t they? Corporate synergy and Hollywood ambitions seem to have nipped the potential to see our favorite heroes mix it up right in the bud, and that’s a damn shame.

Because when they’re done right, superhero crossovers have the potential to give us legendary, bookshelf-busting fare like JLA/Avengers or Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man. (Sure, you could bring up DC vs. Marvel, but come on, now.) Yeah, you’ll come across the odd Green Lantern/Star Trek or Batman ’66/The Green Hornet, but when was the last time you saw a crossover that made your eyes bulge out of your head? Been awhile, yes?

That’s what DC Comics and IDW Publishing’s Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is. It’s a crossover that effectively makes your fan-kid hands tremble with anticipation. Surely this cannot be? You’ll say to yourself. But there it is, right in front of you. The wonder and excitement of your childhood, reborn. James Tynion IV, Freddie E Williams II, and Jeremy Colwell (I?) have a gift for you this holiday season. Unwrap it with care.

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Because Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 is as fun as comics get. That’s due in no small part to the energy put into this project by the book’s stellar artistic team: Freddie Williams’ artwork easily recalls the grimy, rain-soaked days of Eastman and Laird, which is a fine thing considering that our stalwart Dark Knight is no stranger to shadows or labyrinthine sewer systems. It’s the tonal harmony Williams finds between Batman and our Fearsome Fighting Team that makes this book work so well — remember, these kids were created as a dig towards Frank Miller’s mid-Eighties works. So the artist plays it straight, which gives Jeremy Colwell’s gorgeous colors an opportunity to make the book feel absolutely primal. (And their diligence offers us the first iconic image of this crossover: a killer splash page featuring our favorite Turtles versus none other than Killer Croc.) 

A massive crossover such as this requires care and demands respect. If it were to skew just an inch from its mission, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would quickly devolve into a one-note farce. But this book has an ace in the hole, and his name is James Tynion IV. The Batman Eternal and Memetic scribe has found a project into which he can truly immerse himself. He taps into what has made these characters endure for so many years and places their fundamentals at the forefront of the proceedings. Of all the projects I’ve read by the writer, this has to be his most assured. The big surprise of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that it finds James Tynion IV at his most elemental. This has the makings of a bona fide classic.

DC Comics/IDW Publishing/$3.99

Written by James Tynion IV.

Art by Freddie E. Williams II.

Colors by Jeremy Colwell.

Letters by Tom Napolitano.

8.5 out of 10

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