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CHRISTMAS TALES: TMNT special


MICHAELANGELO TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE - ONE SHOT (1985)

Retelling of a Christmas classic

When you think about characters that are well-suited for saving Christmas, it's hard to come up with one more perfect for the job than Michelangelo the Ninja Turtle. Not only has he been making some pretty significant appearances under the tree for a solid thirty years, but of the four brothers who make up the team, Mikey's the one who's full of childlike wonder and the sense of fun that allow one to be swept up by Christmas magic.

Which is probably why Mikey ends up as the character starring in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Christmas issue back in 1985, in which he befriends a kitty cat, brings joy to a bunch of orphans, and actually Saves Christmas. Which, you know, also involves hijacking a truck and crashing through at least two NYPD roadblocks. Saving Christmas can be complicated, folks.

The story was originally published as a one-issue "Micro-Series" --- maybe the most brilliant marketing term to come out of the '80s --- by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird that was called, fittingly enough, Michaelangelo: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. If you're looking for it today, though, it had a recent reprint in the second volume of IDW's TMNT: The Ultimate Collection, which also features page-by-page annotations from Eastman and Laird themselves. That might not mean much for the Christmas story, since it's pretty straightforward, but consider that this volume also has the one where Donatello meets Jack Kirby, and you'll probably see the appeal.

The basic idea here is that Mikey's out enjoying the festive atmosphere of the holidays and the cold weather that gives him a nice excuse for bundling himself up to hide his turtley features. He even manages to find a new friend in the form of a kitten he names Klunk, who would stick around in the comic for a few years. Eventually, though, he decides to head to a local toy store to see if he can't find any good gifts for the rest of the Turtles.

The problem is that everyone at the toy store is trying to get their hands on Little Orphan Aliens™, the hottest new toy of 1985, which is going to end up causing Mikey no end of trouble.

Which, you know, is especially ironic considering what would happen a few years later with the Turtles' own toy line launched in 1988.

But the problem this time isn't the scarcity of the "Little Orphan Aliens". At least not directly. See, the store has a whole truckload of them in the back, but they're already spoken for as a donation to a local orphanage. Unfortunately, there's a gang of robbers with other plans.

Before engaging full ninja on the robbers, Mikey leaves Klunk "safely" in the back of the truck. When the driver tries to make a getaway, he ends up taking Mikey's new pet with him. The good news, though, is that one of the many ninja skills you learn from Master Splinter is how to cut someone off at the pass and then stomp the living hell out of them.  

Eventually, Mikey loses the cops, stashes the truck, and rescues Klunk from the back, but he's still left with one pretty big problem: What the heck do you do with a truckload of stolen Little Orphan Aliens™?

The obvious answer is to just hand them over to the cops, but as Michelangelo realizes --- and as April O'Neil confirms when he asks her about it --- if he does that, they'll just be impounded as evidence, and the kids at the orphanage won't be any better off than they would've been if the robbers had gotten away. Sure, they'll have the moral high ground, but try explaining that to a kid who wakes up on Christmas morning to find a Little Orphan Alien shaped hole under the tree and let me know how that works out for you.

Obviously, there's only one thing to do, and it will require all of their cunning and ninja skill. It's time to play Santa.