Michelangelo (#1 / Christmas Special, Mirage, 1987 / 1990) – Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

4 out of 5

I remember all of the Mirage micro-series – they stick out; I can visualize flipping through the pages – but for very different reasons. The Leo issue because it’s so narratively important; the Raph issue because it’s very clearly a Kevin Eastman joint; just as the Don issue is a Laird one. What do I remember about the Mikey issue? The art.

The duotone on this book is just gorgeous: the constantly falling snow; the cramped, but readable pages. Michelangelo is having a good time throughout, and that energy just sort of crackles across every panel. It’s a joy to read. Er, the story? Whuzzat? Yeah, it’s Christmas tripe, even including orphans. I mean, look: it’s as good / bad as any thieves-steal-Xmas-presents type tale, and clearly Kev and Pete were leaning into the stereotype as much as possible to reskin it with Turtles and some action, but I can only really recall the plot because I’ve read the book a billion times. Otherwise, it’s pretty faceless and logicless – TMNT was never narratively the most brilliant thing ever, but this one just kinda shrugs its shoulders and goes beat-by-beat as you’d expect, once Michelangelo overhears chatter regarding that year’s hottest toy being sold out, then spots crooks loading up a truck with those same toys. A shipment that was intended for an orphanage! …But was being also sent to the toy store where Mike is hanging out…? Yeah, it doesn’t matter. First appearance of Klunk and goofy charm and beautiful, drool-worthy pages keep it a classic.

The back-up of the first printing has a fun Dooney Gizmo short – it’s also pretty dumb, but the kind of softball humor is intertwined with Dooney’s writing style, and it works. Giz and Fluffy hit up a robo expo to try to mooch some free food, and, in this early iteration, they’re both kinda shysters who work a salespitch to make off with – essentially – stolen cash. All fer some yuks!

I prefer the second printing’s (retitled as the Christmas Special, in 1990) backup, which is a Christmas Carol riff starring Raph, firstly because it’s Jim Lawson, secondly because we get some future TMNT moments, and thirdly because Lawson actually keeps it pretty grim, which is a nice change for XMas stuff. (…Though I guess that was telling of the forthcoming 90s era of comics.) This second printing also came with a pretty snazzy pinup and cleaned up the art a bit (unless that’s just my printings), as I assume Mirage maybe had some better production practices then…?