Written by Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman and Bobby Curnow
Art by Mateus Santolouco
Colors by Ronda Pattison
Letters by Shawn Lee
Before we get into the heat of this review, a clarification: In my review of the last issue, I incorrectly mentioned that the case of Libby's death was a clear cut case of Women In Refrigerators, and that Tom Waltz and the rest of the writers were better than that. Well, as those of you who have read this issue know, Libby didn't actually die. I still think that the way female characters are treated in most comic books is something that needs some work, and I guess in a roundabout way I was right that Waltz, Eastman and Curnow are better than that, but it is embarrassing from (semi) professional standpoint.
But enough about me, on to the review.
It's Christmas time, and all through the burned-out church, turtles are stirring, because Christmas is the time to spend with friends and family making merry. And who better to lead such an adventure than the original Party Dude himself, Michelangelo? After the gloomy way the last couple of issues ended, it is nice to see most of the main characters and a lot of the side characters just hanging out, having a good time. Waltz has such a good handle on the characters by this point in the series everything that happens feels so on point, from Leo's resigned cleaning to Donnie's Christmas Vacation-esque exploits and more.
I don't want this issue to sound like just a Christmas special, because, like most issues, plots are slightly advanced or seeded for future developments, such as the burgeoning attraction between Angel and Woody the Pizza Guy. But mostly this is just an excuse to catch up with a lot characters and see what they are up to.
This marks regular artist Mateus Santolouco's return to the book after several issues away, and it feels so right to see his pencils gracing the pages again. Santolouco has always been able to show a lot of emotion through facial expressions and body language, which is so important in an issue where there is next to no fighting.
Everything about this issue feels brighter and happier than anything we've seen from this book in quite a while, which seems fitting, but is really due to the excellent color choices of Ronda Pattison, who has been a bit of MVP for this book this year. Looking at the pages, they just look like they're so much brighter and warmer, obviously with the exception of outdoor scenes, which are appropriately cold.
While the sheer number of characters in this issue is pretty intense, I think it makes for a pretty good jumping on point, especially if you don't mind (or enjoy) doing a little bit of catch up on whom everyone is. I would definitely recommend this issue to just about everyone, and in fact, it makes a great, seasonally appropriate gift for the lapsed turtles fan or youngster just getting into comics in your life.