It’s easy to point to Michelangelo among the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the heart and soul of the group. Sure, he’s a party dude and he’s far from the sharpest tool in the shed, but there’s something to be said for his innocence that brings an unmatched purity to the team. That is on display in earnest in this chapter from the newest TMNT Macro-Series.
Mikey is helping out at the Foot Clan Stronghold by entertaining the group of orphans that were saved from certain death at the hands of the Rat King. These are kids that have experienced trauma first hand and will never live a normal life again. That’s why a dancing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle isn’t a terrifying experience for them.
Conflicts arise when Splinter agrees to take the children in so long as they’re trained to be the next generation of the Foot Clan. It’s one thing to save these kids because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s quite another to turn them into living weapons. Mikey gets desperate and decides to take the children away without a plan as to where to go or how to take care of them. Anything will be better than this, right?
This right here is what makes Michelangelo stand out. He’s such an earnest, genuine character that you can’t help but love. While he has some humorous moments, he’s not played for laughs in this issue. You can see the inherent goodness that permeates from every fiber of his being. He refuses to accept that this is the only way to save these kids.
Much of Mikey’s nature comes through in Michael Dialynas’ artwork, particularly in the opening scenes. This is a character who wears his heart on his sleeve. You can tell how he’s feeling from his facial expressions. They’re mostly joyous, but when he learns the news about the kids, the anger comes out.
Dialynas redesigned the Turtles’ costumes a bit for this issue, outfitting them with long sleeves and leg-wrappings. I hesitate to call them leggings, but I don’t know what else to call them. I’m not entirely sold on this, especially in the first few scenes as the Turtles are shown without their mask. They look so similar that it’s hard to tell them apart without that key identifying feature. While they are different shades of green, it’s not enough to distinguish them. Fortunately, the masks return later on.
Mikey’s journey is one of education for himself, the other Turtles, and Splinter. The leader of the Foot Clan has had a rocky relationship with his children as of late and it’s been particularly difficult with Michelangelo. By taking the children away, Mikey is suddenly thrust into the adult role and gets an idea of the tough decisions his father has had to make over the years. It puts things in perspective for him.
The same can be said for Splinter as he confronts Michelangelo. He puts his foot down at first, but comes around to respect his son’s decision and come up with an alternate solution. It’s a very touching scene that is played with a minimum amount of emotion. They’re not hugging each other, but it’s clear that they have come to a new understanding that will help them rebuild their relationship moving forward. Writer Ian Flynn does a great job with this issue as a whole and this is a high point.
This is saying something because the confrontation starts out so cold and possibly deadly. Letterer Shawn Lee underscores this with a chilling delivery of a total dad line from Splinter. It’s a feeling that I know all too well when my own kids get way out of line. Lee encapsulates generations of quiet parental rage in this single word balloon.
The TMNT Macro-Series exists to tell focused stories that don’t really fit into the overall narrative of the main series, just like the now defunct TMNT Universe. This issue is really something special, standing out in a big way. It explores one of the main characters in an in-depth manner that provides some solid development. Most of all, it takes the subject matter seriously and builds upon what’s been there for over thirty years.