When I talked about Raphael: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, I mentioned that, of all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) as originally conceived by of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, Raphael has stood out the most in terms of personality. Given that all of the TMNT look and sound the same and are only really separated by their individual weapons, it stands out even more when one of them shows a bit more personality in these early issues. But, while Raphael has stood out the most, each of the TMNT has showed glimpses of their individual personalities…except for “Michaelangelo”.
Up until now, “Michaelangelo” has simply been a ninja turtle; it took him fives issues to exude anything even resembling a personality and even then it wasn’t anything that impressive. We’ve seen him able to hold his own when sparring with Raphael, and even best his brother in combat, receive an injury when battling the Foot Clan and having to deal with the handicap of this injury, and he was possibly (most likely) the turtle who got drunk on one alien alcoholic beverage. Apart from that, he may as well not really be there; Leonardo has been the voice of reason and given the TMNT direction, Donatello has offered technical and scientific expertise (though basic), and Raphael has been depicted as an emotional hot-head who struggles with his temper but “Michaelangelo” has just been…there…
So it is slightly surprising to me that, of all the TMNT, it was Mike who received his own one-shot comic; as the only of his brothers to receive a one-shot at this point was Raphael, this seems to imply that Mike was just as strong a stand out, breakout, character as his temperamental brother but, honestly, I haven’t seen any evidence in this early issues to make a case for that. If anything, it feels like Leonardo should have gotten the one-shot treatment over Mike but, here we are.
Michaelangelo: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle takes place before the TMNT were transported across space but after Splinter turned up missing; the TMNT are still staying at April O’Neil’s apartment and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s Christmas time in New York City and “Michaelangelo” is out exploring the city in the middle of a picturesque, stereotypical snow-covered Big Apple. Though he laments that he probably wouldn’t be able to take up ice skating, he jumps at the chance to try “sliding”, enjoying being out and amongst his fellow New Yorkers.
Rather than heading home, Mike decides to head to the shops to do some Christmas shopping but comes across a lost cat; taking a liking to the freezing kitty, Mike tucks him into his big winter coat and takes the cat with him to a nearby town store.
Enamoured by the large array of toys and games on offer, Mike heads inside and, whilst playing, names his newfound friend “Klunk”; however, Klunk gets spooked by the toys and runs off to the toy shop’s warehouse. Following, Mike comes across a gang of masked individuals taking a truck full of this season’s most-popular toy (“L’il Orphan Aliens™”), which is due to be donated to a local orphanage. The thieves, however, knock out the driver and intend to steal the truck and sell the toys to make a profit so Mike, naturally, gives chase.
Grabbing hold of a loose light chord, Mike is dragged through the streets as the truck speeds away; after securing Klunk instead the truck, Mike makes short work of a couple of the goons but loses the truck when the driver speeds away. Desperate to get Klunk back and finish the job, Mike takes a chance on the driver driving erratically and without any real purpose and, luckily, catches up to the truck and takes out the driver by smashing through the front and driver’s side window.
Mike plans to drive the truck back to the store but attracts the attention of New York’s finest, who have been on the lookout for the stolen vehicle, and Mike is forced to smash his way past the cops and an armed barricade. Ditching the truck down a nearby alley, Mike doesn’t want to just leave it for the cops to impound and, instead, opts to head back to his brothers at April’s apartment.
Mike (randomly called “Michelangelo” for the first time, though this correct spelling of his name wouldn’t stick for some time) doesn’t have to try too hard to convince the rest of the TMNT to help him out and, together, they take April’s van down to where Mike ditched the truck, load it up with the L’il Orphan Aliens™, and deliver the toys to the orphanage while dressed as Santa Claus and his helpful little elves.
Compared to Raphael: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Michaelangelo: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is every schmaltzy, feel-good Christmas story you’ve come to expect from comic books. Literally the only thing this one-shot contributes is that it finally shines a light on “Michaelangelo” and allows him to stand out from his brothers. As realised in this story, Mike is like a wide-eyed kid; he enjoys being out in the city, especially amongst the snow and at Christmas time, and delights in playing with and being around all the toys and games. This contrasts quite severely with what little personality he has shown thus far as he’s seen to be relatively stoic, focused, and adept at martial arts rather than the laid back, pizza-loving surfer dude he would later become.
Otherwise, there’s not really much else on offer here and it doesn’t really add much to the current ongoing arc of the TMNT struggling with the loss of their mentor and father-figure, Splinter. It’s nice to see Mike’s personality fleshed out a bit but, similar to Raphael’s one-shot, it’s not as though these developments are actually translated to the subsequent issues that I’ll be looking at for Turtle Tuesday. As a one-shot, feel-good Christmas tale it’s decent enough but I always feel like such stories are a bit of waste of time as I’d much rather get to the action or the character development more than celebrate the “true meaning of Christmas”.
What did you think about this one-shot TMNT comic? Do you think Mike deserved his own spin-off or would you have preferred to see a different character get that honour? What do you think about schmaltzy Christmas tales in comics, cartoons, or movies? Whatever you think about this issue, or the TMNT in general, feel free to leave a comment below and come back next week as the TMNT continue to fight their way through alien goons and return home.