The first five issues or so are relatively straightforward, focusing on the two ninja turtles still in Mutant Town, Donatello and Jennika, while the other three are off doing other things. Donatello is working a monitor array and trying to keep tabs on everything happening in town, while simultaneously protecting Triceraton regent, Seri. Jennika, meanwhile, is filling in as town constable, while Raphael is off participating in the event series.
Mayor Baxter Stockman gives a state of the city address and he is attacked on camera by four white-masked mutant turtles with familiar-looking weapons (these seem to be the turtles Campbell drew in TMNT FCBD 2022: The Armageddon Game, which was collected in TMNT: Reborn, Vol. 6). This sets off riots in Mutant Town, as differing factions of the populace react violently in different directions. Meanwhile, the Utrom's from Burnow Island send an assassination squad to take out Seri, and Donatello experiments with a magic crystal that recalled the events of 1986's Donatello "micro-series" to an extent.
Things get weird part-way through the fifth issue, wherein a bunch of other characters presumably from the pages of Armageddon Game join a fight scene, one which grows between issues to include more out-of-left-field participants, including the IDW version of Cudley from the old Archie Comics. I realize I'm reading this in the "wrong" way, and that the ideal way to read it is in the individual issues as they're published serially; presumably, this stuff would make more sense that way.
From there, the reunited five ninja turtles are whisked away to learn a new, tenth secret move from The Shredder and Kitsune, and, in the cliffhanger ending, face the Rat King, the prime mover behind the Armageddon Game.
Sophie Campbell continues to write the series, while Fero Pe provides all of the art. I, as always, would have preferred Campbell at least penciling the art to anyone else, but Pe is good, and the style is well within the range of Campbell's. My favorite bits of the collection, however, are the cover collaborations between Campbell and Kevin Eastman, of which there are seven. This is, in my mind, the ideal TMNT art team, and do hope IDW eventually has them draw a prestige graphic novel together, perhaps one that Campbell writes as well.
Originally a seven-issue miniseries, Batman & The Joker: The Deadly Duo features the rather unlikely—and quite unequal—"team-up" between the two archenemies, written as well as drawn by Silvestri (Colorist Arif Prianto provides the color art).
This is forced by the mysterious new villain, who spends much of the series hidden under a purple-ish hood and cloak (that's the villain on the cover, under Batman's right wing). By kidnapping Commissioner Gordon and Harley Quinn, the villain forces the pair to work together, giving them a series of impossible-seeming, almost Saw-like tasks involving deciding who should live and who should die.
Meanwhile, a series of gruesome beheadings is being carried out by monstrously strong and tough creatures that physically resemble The Joker. The victims all seem related to a single incident, a botched armored car robbery-turned-hostage situation at a high society wedding, for which the father of the bride, who just so happens to be involved in cutting-edge genetic research, blames Batman, The Joker and the Gotham City Police Department in equal measure for its tragic, high body count ending.
He would seem to be the obvious suspect, then, and, while it's not a mystery story, Silvestri does manage to throw a convincing curveball. So too is there some misdirection regarding The Joker's motivations for playing along. He's not really trying to save Harley Quinn, but get his greatest desire fulfilled by the villain, who has the means to deliver it. As to what that is, well, it's worth reading to find out, isn't it?
The story is engaging enough, and Silvestri does a fine job writing the various players, which include Batman mainstays Harvey Bullock, Alfred, Nightwing, Catwoman and Batgirl Barbara Gordon. The set-up, bringing The Joker and Batman together as a sort of team, works, especially considering what a heavy story-telling lift that is, and the various riffs on the nature of Batman, The Joker and their relationship to one another are satisfying.
Given Silvestri's reputation as an artist, I was honestly surprised by how good the writing was. It's hardly a revelatory or revolutionary comic, of course, but it is not bad at all.
The real point of the endeavor is, of course, to show off Silvestri's artwork, and, specifically, apply it to Batman. This shouldn't disappoint any of the artist's fans, or, I would think, many Batman fans. While the storytelling isn't the greatest, and the images don't always flow together in a compelling fashion, the individual images are all generally strong, highlighting Silvestri's figurework and his particularly strong Batman.
I read the story in the "Deluxe Edition" hardcover format, which means that, in addition to 38 pages of variant covers in thte back, there's a similar amount of space devoted to Silvestri's original pencils, as well as an aftterword by Silvestri.
As for the variants, they are by particularly high-caliber artists, and, chances are, your favorite Batman artist drew one of them. Among the EDILW-favorite artists to draw variants include Kelley Jones, Mike Mignola, Kyle Hotz, John McCrea, Simon Bisley and Guillem March, any of whom I would have turned a cartwheel if I heard they were drawing a 150-ish page Batman/Joker story for DC, although Deadly Duo would have been very, very different if any of them did; this is, after all, a Silvestri story through and through.