Okay, so I’ve already talked about what I think of Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as at length about one big thing I’d like to see them reinvent. Now, in some lesser detail, are nine other things I’d like to see reinvented for the new series.
I always dug the Cyber Samurai Turtles’ power armor, and with Iron Man being a pretty hot ticket as of late, it seems like a cool idea. The alternate implementation was the one-shot episode of the original cartoon where putting on generic suits saw them shift in size and shape until they were the size of Megazords… neat, but not an idea with lasting power, in all likelihood.
Of course, where this idea really works is if they were to bring back a shared element from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic…
8 ) Future Turtles: The Future Ninja Turtles from the year 2094 was one of the coolest parts of the Adventures comic. Not only because we got to see the Turtles from what was then 100 years into the future, but because they revisited it and really fleshed the world out at whatever opportunity they had.
Global warming changed the face of the planet, and mutants became more commonplace. Splinter is gone, and the Turtles have gone their separate ways, though they keep in touch. Flooding has forced rats into homes and shelters, leading Donatello and a cat mutant named Manx to attempt to exterminate them, thus leading to a war with the mysteriously long-lived Rat King, Lord Ha’ntaan.
It presents an interesting look at the future of the characters and their world, and definitely one different from Fast Forward. Of course, it might seem a bit dark and grim compared to the rest of the series– it’s far too early to tell just yet– but then, dark futures sometimes work in these types of stories simply because they offer such contrast.
7) Mystic Turtles: While Donatello and the Turtles’ penchant for using technology lends itself well to the Cyber Samurai power suits, their ninjutsu and the training of Master Splinter lends itself well to more mystic elements. These were put prominently on display during the 4Kids era… twice.
The above forms were seen during the “Ninja Tribunal” season of the show, wherein the eponymous masters took in the four, along with several other warriors, to train them and help them reach their full potential so that they would be ready to face and put a stop to the returning Tengu Shredder, a demon from which the modern day Utrom Shredder would take his name and reputation before carrying on with his own worthwhile reign of terror.
The Turtles got some cool new markings and new weapons as well as they carried out their training and fulfilled their mission.
Konami also gave them some similar but unique powered-up forms in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare:
However, so far as I can tell, these lacked any particular story significance and were more a result of leveling up your Turtles in the game.
6) The Technodrome: IDW is already on the ball with this, but just the same, I would love to see this massive mobile fortress brought back to the forefront of the Turtles’ lives… but only if treated right.
The sad fact of the matter is, the Technodrome was essentially the entire plot for the majority of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon; nearly every episode involving Shredder and Krang was either about preventing them from fixing the Technodrome, or stopping it at the end of the season, which usually resulted in a change of scenery for the next season. But the way it was used wound up essentially removing all of its teeth; thankfully, someone realized this and finally put an end to the whole thing a couple of seasons shy of the show’s finale.
I would like to see Nick do something new with it, but ideally for the short term, so that it doesn’t become so utterly redundant as in the old cartoon, where it never really got to do anything except be foiled time and again.
Incidentally, Utrom Shredder from 4Kids gave us a good idea of the kind of menace a reinvented Technodrome can be capable of in Turtles Forever.
5) Bebop and Rocksteady: Now here are two guys who could use reinventing, and it looks like IDW may have plans already in place for them. Nick’s cartoon, on the other hand, looks like it’s going to be using some new help for the Shredder.
If memory serves, Laird really had no interest in using these guys in the 4Kids show in any capacity, save for sight gags and, of course, in the crossover. And it’s too bad, as Bebop and Rocksteady have never been particularly menacing except for about five seconds in the old cartoon– the five seconds before they did anything. It was all downhill from there.
In Konami’s video games, though, the duo were a formidable fight despite their low intelligence (my favorite being in the first arcade game when you fight both at once; the best is when you get them to kill each other by running into one-another head first). And early concept sketches for Playmates certainly carried an air of menace while showing how different they can be while still being themselves:
I think I saw some mention of this iteration being conceived as sort of space or inter-dimensional bounty hunters, which would be a cool hook to reintroduce them. They don’t need to necessarily be smart, but just enough so as to be an actual menace.
4) Tokka and Rahzar: For one reason or another, Bebop and Rocksteady weren’t used for the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Instead of a mutant warthog and rhino pairing, we got these two: a snapping turtle and a wolf.
In the illustration here, these two even succeeded where Bebop and Rocksteady failed by joining the 4Kids version of the show in Turtles Forever, though it didn’t really amount to much. But between that, their movie debut, and the Konami games, they also appeared in the original cartoon:
This makes them perhaps among the most widespread foes the Turtles have; as noted previously, even Super Shredder– who debuted in the same movie– never made it to the old or the new cartoons. What’s more, their portrayal in the Fred Wolf cartoon was drastically different from any other, as they were depicted as being rather intelligent, not to mention quite loyal to one-another. Unfortunately, they were only in a single episode, never to be heard from for the rest of its run.
Rather than sticking with the same goons for however long the show runs, it would be neat to see Shredder expand his ranks, which brings us to…
3) Tokka and Rahzar and Bebop and Rocksteady: Okay, this one is sort of a cheat, since it’s not really “reinventing” anything. But going along with the idea of Shredder expanding his ranks of mutant goons, the fact is that– with the possible exception of Turtles Forever– we’ve never really seen these two duos together. Sure, they’ve featured in the same video games– with the latter replacing the former on the pirate ship in Turtles in Time, no less (the others were relocated to the Technodrome level)– but they’ve never really interacted.
This could lead to some interesting character interaction. For example, one might assume a rivalry between the old characters and the new in a bid to be Shredder’s top mutants. There could be times when they’re mixed and matched– Bebop and Tokka, Rocksteady and Rahzar, etc. Or even when all four get together to take on the four Turtles… can you imagine that brawl?
Throw in whoever else Shredder has working for him at the start for added hijinks!
Of course, when you talk about mutant turtles who aren’t named for Renaissance artists, one name always comes to mind…
2) Slash: Sad as it is to say, I feel there is a definite distinction to be drawn here. When I say “Slash,” I do not mean this:
The Fred Wolf version of the character is so terrible that not even Konami used him in their games, nor did anyone else use him in any sort of media or merchandise that I am aware of; he’s pretty much an aberration in nearly every sense of the word.
That is not the Slash I want to see brought back; this is the Slash I want to see:
He may sound poetic, this Slash is a brute and a bruiser. He’s not quite bad, but he’s not exactly good, either; a definitive anti-hero. However, he did die a hero in the end, sacrificing his own life for the safety of the Turtles and their allies; to avenge his fallen friends, the Mighty Mutanimals, and to save the Earth from an alien invasion by ensuring they met their fate by being plunged straight into our sun.
This is the version of Slash I would love to see reinvented for a new generation. And, as it so happens, IDW is already on the ball with this, too. Though we don’t know much of him yet, he has already made his first appearance in the comic, which is shaping up to be something like a “best of” all previous TMNT ideas, and with some new stuff thrown in as well.
But will they dare to touch on my number one? Will Nick? Will anyone?
1) Dragon Skull, the Dragon Lord: To say that Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is not fondly remembered would be an understatement. Though it pulled in strong ratings during its time on the air, its end was said to be met due to Fox not being particularly big on a show they owned so little stake in. Meanwhile, fans lamented the sub-Power Rangers production quality and the inclusion of a new fifth Turtle, a female by the name of Venus de Milo.
Many only know of its existence due to the infamous crossover with Power Rangers in Space, but the show did have its good qualities, and was actually a bit better than what was seen in said crossover. Among other things, it was perhaps one of the first major branches of the franchise to differentiate the four Turtles, as well as change up their weapons and gear. It started Raph on his biking kick (unless the Mirage comic did it first), and had a varied cast of villains who weren’t the Shredder.
Foremost among these was the new head villain, Dragon Lord. The leader of all dragons, he comes from a time when dragons ruled the Earth, only to recently returning through the mystical manipulation of Splinter from the dimension to which he and his Rank army of dragon ninja soldiers had been exiled for eons by a Shinobi Shaman.
Unfamiliar with the nature of mutations, he became intrigued by the existence of our four five extraordinary Ninja Turtles, and desires the power they possess. And to get it?
He intended to eat them for it, thus allowing him to take his “rightful place” as the ruler of our world. Tell me that’s not savagely badass.
Unfortunately, like many things, Next Mutation didn’t play the character to his fullest potential. He was easily enraged and massively strong, often requiring at least four of the Turtles to take him down (those being his good points), but also played for laughs, thanks in part to his unfamiliarity with our world, and other times due to other elements, including his less-enjoyable sidekick, Wick– a Muppet reject of a dragon.
While I don’t really care if Nick or IDW decide to do anything with the likes of Venus or the other Next Mutation stuff, Dragon Lord is just too good to be wasted, and fits rather well with the whole TMNT world… perhaps too well to be left out. And hey, he might even be a good way to put the aforementioned Mystic Turtles stuff to good use!
Full disclosure: Yeah, I kind of dig dragons anyway, including their other uses in the franchise– but nonetheless, I stand by this regardless. Dragon Lord is good material, and the very reason I rank him so high is because he’s also the one I fear most likely to be overlooked due to his series of origin.
And that’s it! The journey is just beginning, so it should be fun to see how much of this comes to pass thanks to IDW, to Nickelodeon, or both!