The weird part about this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles renaissance we’re going through is seeing that word ‘Teenage’ still attached to them. Sad, but true, in just a couple years the franchise will be hitting 30. It’s not like there have always been great reasons to stick around as a TMNT fan, either. Many of us who grew up with them (Is anyone reading these books who didn’t grow up with TMNT in someway?), to various degrees, look back to the cartoons and movies and video games and breakfast cereals and Coming Out of Our Shells tour and wince a little out of embarrassment. What I suspect the folks at IDW understand is that we see the Eastman and Laird books as the high water mark, and while we accept the ADD kid-friendly stuff that came afterwards it’s time to move forward.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series #2: Michelangelo, we find the nunchuk-wielder ringing in the new year by sneaking into a swank costume party in a museum and, through mistaken identity, getting wrapped up in a jewel heist. It brushes through the major plot points, slowing down and relishing the fun in the burglary and eventual confrontation with the criminals. A few new characters are introduced, some are delightfully disposable, some are memorable and there’s reason to believe they’ll be popping up again later.
The writing hits all the right Michelangelo notes in this carefree adventure, working some great surprises into the story. Brian Lynch‘s able to rely on the character’s broad appeal without pandering; there are at least two smart little plays on catchphrases Mikey has used from the movies and cartoons. Andy Kuhns’ art is great and Bill Crabtree takes a break from doing colors on The Sixth Gun to lend his amazing palette. For the production value alone, if you enjoy that book you should check this one out and vice versa.
The thing that I found the most captivating, though, was the opening with Michelangelo spending New Year’s Eve alone in a movie theater and for just a few moments you get a touch of that same magic that made the first act of 2007’s CGI-animated TMNT special for me; You get these goofy characters, many of us have grown up loving, in their downtime just being themselves. Eastman and Laird understood this and incorporated it into their run and the first film. I really like seeing Mikey awestruck and giddy, it’s contagious. And I enjoy seeing Donatello tinkering away on machines and Leo being a big brother and Raph being sullen and angsty. These characters still work as a team and as a family. For all the aggressive marketing the franchise has been through over the years, I think people keep going back to them because we respond to that. We know there are still good stories for the turtles to tell.