Considering the veritable shitstorm of fan reaction to Michael Bay’s “visionary” idea to make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aliens, I’m surprised that there’s been no backlash from fans about the IDW Publishing “tweak” to the Turtles’ origin.
See, the writer of TMNT had this idea in the back of his head for years, and with the new series that launched last year he finally had a chance to make his dream a reality. Unfortunately, his genius idea was that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are actually the reincarnated souls of the adolescent sons of feudal-era ninja, Hamato Yoshi.
No, really. It’s as dumb as it sounds, and this Leonardo spotlight issue of the TMNT Micro-Series of comic books is the perfect illustration of why.
There will be spoilers in this review, but I promise there’s nothing good here to spoil anyway.
Let’s talk about the “plot” of this issue (and I use that term loosely): Leonardo is standing on a rooftop searching for the kidnapped Splinter when he’s randomly attacked by Foot Clan Ninjas. He jumps into a nearby condemned building and continues fighting the Foot, when an insane, straggly-haired homeless woman shows up to defend her turf and gets dragged off by the Foot.
Leonardo somehow likens the woman to his pre-reincarnation mother and goes ballistic, killing or wounding all the Foot Ninja. Leo then continues on his psychotic murder-frenzy, abandons the woman inside with dozens of dead or injured Foot Ninjas, and runs up to the roof of the building where he has his slimy green ass handed to him be an elite Foot Ninja (Shredder?).
Leonardo then goes home and tells the other Turtles about the Foot Clan Ninjas, but leaves out the part where he got his ass kicked. Because, y’know, there’s no reason the others need to know about an elite Foot Ninja so they can be prepared and not get killed or anything. Way to lead, Leonardo. Oy.
Furthermore, Leo declares to his brothers that they are never going to lose a family member again. Really? Unless Leonardo is planning to go down the Sith path to immortality that Anakin Skywalker sought, I don’t see how he’s going to prevent that, particularly when the Turtles live an extremely perilous, ninja lifestyle.
In addition, I don’t like the notion that Leonardo is relating some crazed homeless woman to his mother, despite the two sharing no characteristics whatsoever. Unless Leo is going to go crazy and go on a murder-bender every time he sees a woman in peril from now on, this just makes no sense. Even less logical is that Leonardo seemingly forgot about the homeless woman and there’s no indication that he goes back to check on her after being defeated–or that he even cares.
This issue clearly had one main goal: to show that Leonardo is obsessed with protecting his family because of the tragedy in his past life (I can’t believe I just said that), and that message is made loud and clear with all the subtlety of a bo staff to the head. Why can’t Leonardo care about protecting his family because they’re all he has? This reincarnation notion is clunky and totally unnecessary, and I feel like ever since it was revealed, you can’t get through any issue without hearing phrases like “in our past lives” or “since the reincarnation”. I’m not a big proponent of retcons, but this whole reincarnation deal is something that I’d like wiped out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
The IDW Publishing TMNT line aren’t the worst Ninja Turtles comic books I’ve ever read (there have been some real duds over the years), but the premise is so asinine that I have a really hard time accepting the content contained in the series. No one–no one–was clamoring for yet another telling of the Ninja Turtles’ origin, but this has to be the weakest take on it ever. If I had a choice between never having to heard the word “reincarnation” in a TMNT comic again or having the Turtles’ origin changed so that they’re actually aliens, I frankly think I’d prefer they be from outer space.