Wednesday, December 14, 2016

TMNT (IDW) #65

Publication date: December 14, 2016

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"TMNT Christmas Special"


Down in the church lair, Mikey assigns duties for the upcoming Christmas party: He’ll make the snacks and the guest list, Donatello will string the lights, Raphael will keep the peace, and Leonardo will keep it all organized.  Leonardo has just one stipulation for Mikey’s guest list: NO Mutanimals!

Taking Pepperoni for a walk, Raph heads to Purple Dragon HQ and confirms that Casey will be attending (and NOT bringing any Dragons).  As Raph leaves, a huge, shadowy figure hears about the party and starts to get ideas.

On the roof of the church, Donnie has trouble stringing the lights with all the damage Stockman’s Flyborgs did, but he’s certain that with his “enhancements”, the display will be unforgettable.  A pigeon overhears Donnie talking to himself and brings the news back to Mutanimal HQ, where Pigeon Pete gets the lowdown on the party.

At Harold’s lab, he and Libby receive Donnie’s invitation, but Harold declines, still insisting on distancing himself from all ninja chicanery.  Libby, recovering from her injury in a wheelchair, tells him to lighten up and kisses him on the cheek.

Back in the lair, the party gets started as Woody Dirkins (in case you forgot his last name) shows up with the pizzas.  Angel Bridge (in case you forgot her last name, too) shows up with April and Raph, and Woody immediately tries to put the moves on Angel.  Slash, having stalked Raph since Purple Dragon HQ, arrives with candy for all.  Mikey is glad he made it and Slash profusely apologizes to Woody for their first encounter.  Woody, terrified, tries to keep his cool.

And then the Mutanimals (sans Old Hob) show up!  The other guests learn quickly that their “invitation” was Pete’s doing, and also that he brought a karaoke machine.  Casey shows up next and with everyone assembled, the festivities get underway.  Pete sings (poorly), Woody kisses Angel under the mistletoe (and takes a glass of eggnog to the face), Casey gives April an old tape recorder he repaired, Mondo Gecko may or may not be stoned, and Herman the Hermit Crab spikes the nog.

Donnie then calls everyone outside to watch him switch on the lights.  The church illuminates brilliantly, but at the cost of plunging half the city into darkness.  Agent Bishop takes note of this, as he and his men were trying to zero in on the location of the mutants when their power went out.  Mikey apologizes to his guests if things got out of hand, but Leo and the rest assure him that it was the best Christmas party ever.

Epilogue: With the guests having gone home, the Turtles go to bed.  A mysterious stranger enters the lair, takes one of Santa’s cookies and leaves a gift for Michelangelo.  Mikey hears the faint rustling and runs out to the living room, finding the present.  He opens it up and is elated to see that he’s been gifted a new pair of nunchakus!  Outside the lair, “Santa” is revealed to be Master Splinter, who eats the cookie and wishes his estranged sons a Merry Christmas.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #64.  The series continues in TMNT (IDW) #66.

*The events of TMNT Universe #5 occur simultaneously with this issue.

*The Turtles adopted Pepperoni in TMNT: Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything! #5, which took place between this and last issue.

*Michelangelo befriended (most of) the Mutanimals in TMNT (IDW) #53.

*Slash attacked Woody in TMNT (IDW) #15.  Mike last saw Slash in TMNT (IDW) #54.

*Baxter Stockman’s Flyborgs and Mousers invaded the church lair in TMNT (IDW) #47.

*April tells Lindsey that she's working for Stockman again.  April and Stockman formed an alliance in TMNT Universe #4, which took place immediately before this issue.

*Mikey discarded his nunchakus in TMNT (IDW) #50 and had been using a grappling hook ever since.  Uh, except for the times when he didn't.

*This issue was originally published with 7 variant covers: Regular Cover by Santolouco, Subscription Cover by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, Retailer Incentive Cover by Garry Brown, Eastman Fan Club Edition sketch cover, Blindbox Exclusive Covers by Robert Atkins, Chuck Arnold and Simon Gough (Donatello Red, Donatello Purple, Metalhead).


This was a cute, strictly-for-fun sort of issue and exactly the story that IDW needed to publish.  When you consider the fact that “Chasing Phantoms”, “Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything” and “The War to Come” were all big, taxing storylines and they all happened in rapid succession… the Turtles really DID need a fuckin’ break.

This Christmas issue is something of a celebration of all the vibrant characters at large in the IDW series.  And even the not-so-vibrant ones like Woody (who gets more personality and more to do in two pages than he has in sixty issues).  We get to see just about every ally to the Turtles, barring any unfortunate circumstances like decapitation or “being Alopex”, and it’s nice to be reminded of all the colorful faces that comprise the extended cast.  We can’t see them all as much as some of us would like, but it genuinely is a gift to have them all together.

We also get characters interacting who haven’t done so in a long time (April and Lindsey) or have never interacted before (Angel and Woody).  We witness glimpses of some fresh dynamics and we’re teased the restoration of some old ones (Casey and April seem to be on better terms than they have in a long time).  If you love the CHARACTERS of this series, then you’ll enjoy this issue.  The bad guys don’t crash the party or anything dumb like that; there’s no action or plot development.  It’s just the cast hanging out and having a good time.  And I could always do with more issues like that.

For 20 pages, Waltz packs in a lot, though of course I’d loved to have seen more of the mingling.  If only this issue had come out in that bygone era when comics were a whopping 22 pages!  But we can never go back again.

Santolouco returns and this issue is a superb spotlight of his ability to exaggerate facial expressions without going too squash-and-stretch, proving that he’s more than just an action artist.  And I think that’s why Santolouco has become the signature artist for IDW’s TMNT book; he’s solid with action but isn’t afraid to make the characters look animated. 

I also love the fashion nuances attached to everyone’s casual wear, all of which speaks to their diverse personalities without going overboard into parody territory.  There are little details like that strewn all over the lair (we get to see what each Turtles’ bedroom looks like) and while there are Easter eggs here and there, the details aren’t so much in the fanwank but in the mundane paraphernalia that complements each character.

Anyhow, this was a nice way to end the year with the IDW Turtles.  We can’t have stories like this too often, or they’d lose their impact, but its fun to get them now and again.