4 out of 5
A somewhat dumb start had me worried that I was in for a somewhat dumb issue: Michelangelo bounding around the Foot headquarters, cracking wise in an embarrassing “hip” manner and entertaining a group of youngsters who’ve been granted temporary refuge in the location. Michael Dialynas’ art offers up good character designs, but it doesn’t communicate the apparent humor of the scene very well, and Ian Flynn’s writing is of that air-quoted nature I suggest above – it feels forced to be cool and funny; rude with ‘tude and all. Leo is off talking to Splinter about what to do with all these kids, and it’s a pretty wordy and stiff chat; when he emerges with the bad news that the youths will be granted refuge in exchange for Foot servitude, the reactions of the four Turtles – Mikey taking the most issue with this – start to come across much more naturally, but the framing of the characters feels off, shuffling speakers / listeners in panel positions in an odd way. This is maybe a quarter of the issue; I wasn’t impressed.
But things absolutely pick up: Mikey decides to sneak the kids out of the compound, but he doesn’t have a plan after that. The montage of him realizing he’s over his head with sudden responsibilities feels immediately funnier and more tonally right for the book than that opening scene, and a flashback to his training as a human that gives him the perseverance to continue with his non-plan is actually very smart – an effective bit of Splinter wisdom that feels organic to the moment. And when Mikey has to battle it out to stay firm on his belief that these kids shouldn’t be forced into soldierdom, Dialynas gets to show off their full abilities, crafting an energetic and impactful fight, that’s also given an emotional leg up from Flynn’s snippets of dialogue and the way Michael handles the participants beat-by-beat facial expressions in response to the struggle.
A one-shot that actually spotlights it’s lead character really well, climbing back up to a top spot after a rough opening.