This Week in WWAC History: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

It’s not officially summer here in the United States until June 20th, but that hasn’t stopped the onslaught of summer movies coming our way. Opening this weekend is the second in the newest turtle movies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. And like everything else in fandom, we have great articles highlighting the TMNT comics, women, and secondary characters. Here are a few from the archives for you to enjoy!

Review: Turtles in Time #1, June 30, 2014,

Turtles in Time #1, Paul Allor and Ross Campbell, IDW Publishing, 2014.

Turtles in Time #1, Paul Allor and
Ross Campbell, IDW Publishing, 2014.

Turtles in Time #1 is everything that turtle fans adore about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: action-packed fight scenes, sassy Turtle one-liners, and dinosaur punching. The first issue of the mini-series wastes no time throwing the Turtles and readers alike into an ancient earth scene populated with stampeding dinosaurs and interdimensional aliens, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

While the dinosaur punching and the one-liners are easily the most exciting features of this book, it’s a different element that piqued my interest. In this issue, Renet, a time-traveling being from another dimension, makes contact with the Turtles, making this her first appearance in the TMNT universe since 2010. In comparison to some of the other Turtles franchises, the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics have been consistently working to develop complex, compelling female characters; I can’t wait to see how Renet develops throughout Turtles in Time and in the rest of the current Turtles titles.


It’s clear from the first issue of Turtles In Time that Renet has an integral role to play in this arc. Despite the brevity of her appearance, it is evident that she is pulling strings in the Turtles’ time travels. Since TMNT has a history of relegating female characters to be damsels in distress, Mary Sues, and disposable characters to be “fridged” for the development of more centralized male characters, it’s refreshing to see a female character as a driving force in the plot. READ MORE

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Actually Does April and the Turtles Justice, August 8, 2014,

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

There is no doubt that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a summer blockbuster in all of the usual ways; there are ample explosions, absurd action sequences, and stunning special effects. But it is also a Ninja Turtles movie, and someone responsible for making this film what it was took that to heart.

Throughout most of this film’s development, I was among the droves of TMNT fans ready to hate this movie. It was being produced by Michael Bay. The turtles looked disgusting. I doubted the choice of Megan Fox as April O’Neil. But as time passed this new arm of the franchise slowly started to win me over. It was clear from the trailers and the TV spots and the behind the scenes that the team making this movie got it. They got the Ninja Turtles. The relationships of the brothers was there, and it was real. It was palpable in the in the tension between Leonardo and Raphael, and in the quibbling between Donatello and Michelangelo.  I expected to watch this film, and to revel in those relationships, and those moments. What I did not expect was to be impressed by was this film’s interpretation of April O’Neil.

The way the filmmakers  portray April O’Neil is not without flaws. She is sexualised, she gets tossed around like a rag doll, and at least half of her dialog is bookended with screams. However, unlike many other April incarnations, Megan Fox as April O’Neil is not strictly a damsel in distress. Instead, she is a catalyst for many of the major events in this film. She is goal oriented, and dedicated, and empathetic. Above all, she has integrity; not only proving true to the turtles, but to herself. This April isn’t just in it for the scoop. While she does harbor a desire to be taken more seriously by her journalist peers, her solution isn’t to make the evening news by selling the turtles out (I’m looking at you, whatever writer “developed” plucky reporter ex-girlfriend from Godzilla 1998). This April wants to make a difference, and when she does, it is not met with fanfare or even a promotion at Channel Six News. The fact that she was there when the Turtles and New York City needed her is enough.TMNT 2014: April O'Neil

So many interpretations of April O’Neil have sought to make April a “strong female character”. This is usually accomplished by outfitting her in some flagrant interpretation of ninja garb, or putting her under the tutelage of Master Splinter to learn the art of ninjitsu. These interpretations are often only strong in the literal sense, leaving April by the wayside as a two-dimensional character in a franchise that is nothing if not character driven. This April O’Neil is flawed, but she is also strong. Not because she is given weapons, or trained to follow in the turtles’ footsteps, but because of her convictions. Also, she has a  female roommate, who she has a frenetic chat with, and I’m pretty sure that makes this film the first Ninja Turtles movie ever made to pass the Bechdel test. She also exchanges dialog with Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Bernadette Thompson, and gets yelled at by Minae Noji’s Karai; suffice to say, we’re on a roll with this April. READ MORE

Top Ten Fantastic Female Characters of IDW’s TMNT, September 30, 2015,

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) has always been a bit of a boys’ club. The franchise originated in 1984 as a comic made by men, for men (or you know, mostly for themselves, since it was essentially just Daredevil fanfic). It then became a cartoon targeted at little boys in 1987—and the trend has gone on strong since. Ninja Turtles has always had a smattering of female characters included in its cast, from scientists to time travelers to news reporters, and while they have played integral roles in the turtles’ world, they have also often been objectified, subjected to the male gaze, and largely relegated the role of damsel in distress. But that’s changing with IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This TMNT ‘verse is incorporating and developing female characters in a big way. IDW’sTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a cast rich with strong, compelling, developed female characters, and it is fantastic. Click through to check out this nerd’s top ten female characters of TMNT.

April O'Neil - by Sophie Campbell

1. April O’Neil

Okay, April goes without saying. I mean, she’s the fifth turtle for goodness sake. In the IDW ‘verse, April is a scientist pursuing her college degree and saving the world on her days off (no big deal). As an intern at Stockgen, she names and discovers the mutated Turtles and eventually becomes their most reliable and stalwart ally. Though she rarely sees any battle action in this incarnation, April is always working behind the scenes to support the Turtles. Whether it’s building teleportation devices with Donatello, solving mysteries, or pursuing an ancient evil society bent on destroying the world, April O’Neil’s got it on lock. In case you were wondering, she is still too good for Casey Jones.

2. Oroku Karai

tmnt_karaiCan we talk about IDW Karai for a minute? Let’s talk about IDW Karai for a minute. She’s the baddest bitch in the IDW TMNT verse, and let’s just be honest, the most stone cold version of this character to date. Every other Karai has been swayed by Leonardo at one time or another, usually when he plays the honor card or presents a compromise that works to both of their advantages. This Karai? She’s not havin’ it. Shredder’s granddaughter has her eye on the prize; complete and total control of the Foot Clan. After Shredder’s disappearance, she ran the Foot Clan with an iron fist, keeping the clan together amid the chaos of an alien invasion. She can also kick Leonardo’s butt, so props for that. IDW Karai is a ruthless, evil kunoichi, and she’s gonna rule the Foot Clan someday (if the Turtles ever succeed in taking Shredder out, anyway). READ MORE


Melinda Pierce

Melinda Pierce

Contributor for WWAC, mother of 2 mini-geeks, writer, and girl geek. Dreams of having enough time to write Veronica Mars fanfiction. @melindabpierce