Eighties babies unite! Since my early childhood, no characters, besides the Dark Knight, could charm or inspire me like the four teenaged, reptilian brothers trained in martial arts by a rat and named after artists of the Renaissance. While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally conceived by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird as parodies of four other famous comics, it has evolved and come into its own as something much bigger. To be honest, I’ve never read the TMNT comics, but the cartoons and movies are what I am specifically going to be addressing here.
Over the decades there have been several incarnations of the TMNT characters and universe, each one building its own legend, and sometimes its own origin story (looking at your 2014 version Mr. Bay), for the most part using plenty of the original characters and introducing a lot of fresh new ones. Every reinvention of the Turtles has been amazing to me, being a fan of the original cartoon series from the beginning, but I have to applaud Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, especially after the premier of the newest episode, “Serpent Hunt”, which brought back two familiar, and often neglected, baddies to the franchise. While the introduction of classic characters such as Baxter Stockman aka Buzzkill (I love his new moniker by the way, Mikey), Rahzar, Slash, and Leatherhead, among many others was appreciated, I was most excited to see the transformation of villains Anton Zeck and Ivan Steranko into the iconic, original mutated goons of Shredder’s posse, Bebop and Rocksteady. Following their unsuccessful attempt to capture a mutated Karai to use as a bargaining chip to gain Shredder’s assistance in helping them escape the mutant- and alien-infested city, the high-tech thief and Russian arms dealer were only rewarded with a beating from the Turtles and Shredder’s henchman, followed by a trip to Baxter Stockman’s mutagen vat.
The series is more than halfway through its third season now, but I couldn’t help but express my appreciation for what has been done with the story so far—a large scale invasion, great character developments, awesome fights, and mutations galore. Besides the injection of old blood into the series, I also like the new elements to old characters, like April O’Neill’s new superpowers and connection to the Kraang and the revelation of Karai being Splinter’s true daughter rather than Shredder’s. There have been plenty of characters introduced into the TMNT universe, but as far as I’m concerned, the roster is complete with Bebop and Rocksteady and any other great additions would be frosting on top, or froth as Vernon might say. I really look forward to seeing if the new series might introduce Usagi Yojimbo or the Triceratons. I’m also looking forward to their next live action adventure, due to hit theaters summer of 2016. The newest Turtles are bringing back more of the original formula, but for a new generation as well as the old.