T-U-R-T-L-E Primer: A Guide to the First Two Years of IDW’s TMNT Comic

July 13th, 2013 by | Tags:

One of my favorite comics on the stands these days is IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Headed by Tom Waltz, Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman and a host of others, the two-year-old Ninja Turtles series feels like the perfect balance of what a new take on the series should be. Silly as it is to say, the Turtles are some of the most versatile properties in comics and television on the level of Batman. They could be anywhere from serious Frank Miller knockoffs to goofball comedians. Over the years they’ve shared scenes with the Power Rangers, the Flaming Carrot, the Muppet Babies and even Hitler (and that was in the Archie Comics spinoff of the 80’s cartoon!).

Even with something like Turtles Forever, I saw a little too much divisiveness within takes on the characters. The current series feels more accepting of all walks of the foursome and shows it well. It’s pieces of the Mirage universe, pieces of the 80’s cartoon universe, a little bit of the 4Kids cartoon universe (which doesn’t have too much to take from since the early seasons were mostly retellings of the Mirage stuff) and a lot of new twists and ideas to keep it original when it counts.

The hook of the series compared to all the other takes is this: you know how the cartoon was about the Turtles teaming up against Shredder and Krang, even though those two had little in common outside of being evil? What if it was instead a war between Shredder and Krang and the Turtles are just in the middle? Hell, go further. Add several more evil factions, all working against each other and the Turtles are the only bastion of hope to stop them.

Now, there is one major problem with the series and that’s in its format. As of this writing, there are 23 issues of the main series, 11 micro-series (character spotlights), an 80-page annual (the first Turtles comic written and drawn by Eastman in decades), a two-issue part of the IDW Infestation 2 storyline and a four-issue miniseries about the history of the Foot Clan. Other than Infestation 2, it’s all pretty important and it’s really hard to get the reading order down. I’m lucky because I was reading the Micro-Series issues as they came out, but for someone catching up and getting the trades, it’s a gigantic headache.

So I figured I’d give a bit of a primer for the series. A big who’s who of familiar and not-so-familiar faces.


Affilliation: TMNT
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: During #11

Upon introduction, Splinter was just a lab rat at Stock Gen Research Inc. Due to some experiments, they were able to increase his intelligence, separating his human-like cognition from his animal instincts. Despite being just a rat, Splinter was able to understand the darkness that surrounded the lab, outside of naïve intern April O’Neil. When a couple of Foot ninjas broke into the lab one night, Splinter was able to help save April and then chase the ninjas onto a rooftop. He scratched out one’s eye and caused him to drop his plunder from the lab: four experimented-on turtles and some mutagen. Splinter and the turtles ended up in the sewer, stewing in the mutagen. Splinter grew into a humanoid rat creature and had a greater understanding of the world.

But really, his story began even earlier. In Feudal Japan, Hamato Yoshi was a great ninja warrior and member of the Foot Clan back when it was an honorable group. He was married to Tang Shen, who gave him four sons. Yoshi’s clan-mate Oroku Saki became leader of the Foot and started using it for ruthless, power-hungry reasons. Yoshi left the clan, feeling it was a disgrace. In response, Saki had Tang Shen killed. Yoshi was able to save his children and ran off with them to live in the mountains for years. Unfortunately, they were one day tracked down by the Foot and all beheaded. Yoshi prayed for justice and to be one day reunited with his children. Then, in his last act, he swore revenge on Saki.

Splinter became sought after by both Stock Gen for his blood and by the modern Foot Clan for recruitment. When Shredder saw Splinter’s skills in action, he began to notice the familiarity while Splinter realized that Shredder was Oroku Saki himself in the same exact body as all those years ago. Splinter lost in combat against Shredder, partially due to how he was worn down by having to go through an army of Foot ninjas and Alopex. Splinter was saved at the last minute by his sons, who defeated Shredder and brought him to safety.

Splinter is very strict about his sons not killing, as it is not their way. At the same time, he struggles with his hatred for the Shredder. At the very least, he insists to his sons that it is their duty to kill the Shredder. Not for the revenge factor, but because he’s too evil and dangerous to live.

Recently, Splinter donned a masked identity and attacked his sons, promising to go after Splinter if they didn’t stop him. He was able to get the best of them and revealed himself as a way to drive home the point that while the Turtles are skilled, they’re becoming too predictable. He needs to train them in more martial arts and truly broaden their horizons.


Affiliation: TMNT
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: Between #8 and #9

Leonardo is the reincarnation of Hamato Yoshi’s eldest son. He’s the most loyal of the four and follows all of Splinter’s words like law. More than anyone else, he believes in Splinter’s claims of reincarnation, both because he believes anything Splinter says and because he has vague, dream-like memories of seeing Tang Shen die in front of him.

When Splinter was captured by Stock Gen, Leonardo searched the streets and found himself targeted by the Foot Clan, tangling with them for the first time. While he was able to fight a bunch of them off, the Shredder – wearing less extravagant ninja gear – easily beat him down and deemed him unimpressive. Later, Leonardo led his brothers in saving Splinter from being killed by Shredder. This time, Leonardo pressed the numbers advantage and won out. Leaving for the sake of getting Splinter to safety, Leonardo made sure to throw a shuriken an inch from Shredder’s head and deemed him unimpressive.

Splinter’s claims that they need to kill Shredder do not sit well with Leonardo, who wishes not to kill under any circumstances because life is sacred. This came up soon after when he and his brothers had to fight the insane and unstoppable Slash. Leonardo tried his hardest to reason with the giant turtle, but ended up gravely wounding him by accident while protecting April and Casey. Leonardo didn’t know that Slash survived having a katana shoved handle-deep down his shoulder and became troubled over it, keeping Slash’s black eye-mask as a memento.

After their second skirmish, Shredder grew to respect Leonardo and found potential in him as an apprentice. He staged a trap and kidnapped Leonardo. The witch Kitsune put Leonardo through a ritual very similar to what Frank Miller had the Hand do to resurrect Elektra. Leonardo’s memories were altered into a nightmarish recollection where Splinter had been terrorizing him via all of their adventures while Shredder had been trying to save him from all of it. In these altered memories, Splinter killed the other three Turtles and resurrected them as his evil soldiers. Last seen, Leonardo woke from this ritual, wearing Slash’s black eye-mask.


Affiliation: TMNT
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: Between #5 and #6

The second-youngest of the reincarnated set of kids, Raphael has a reason for being seen as the maverick outsider of the four. When the turtles and rat fell into the ooze, a stray cat tried to carry off Raphael for the sake of eating. Splinter scratched out the cat’s eye, which freed Raphael, but separated him from the rest. Raphael mutated into his humanoid form and lived on the streets for many months. He eventually came across Casey Jones after hearing Casey’s father drunkenly beating him. Raphael came to the rescue and fought off Casey’s dad until the drunk cut his losses and drove off.

Raphael became close friends with Casey after that with Casey not even minding that Raphael’s a giant, talking turtle. The two started going around as vigilantes for a bit, when they ended up running afoul of Old Hob and his gang of punks. Old Hob is that one-eyed stray cat after becoming a mutant. Raphael had some repressed memories of the ooze incident that filled him with fear and anger at the sight of Old Hob, leading to he and Casey to fighting the gang. It was a losing battle, but then his brothers showed up. Ever since their transformation, Splinter had been obsessed with finding Raphael and made sure that the other three dedicated themselves to tracking him down. During this time, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello all wore red masks as Splinter’s weird little tribute to Raphael, remembering that to be his favorite color.

With the odds evened up, Raphael got to fight Old Hob one-on-one and defeated him. Leonardo prevented him from making the kill, as Hob was prone and it would be wrong. Raphael was brought to the sewer, where Splinter was overjoyed to see him.

Raphael is the most passionate of the group, falling into type of being the aggressive and impulsive one. When the four came across a fight between two Foot ninjas and a Savate ninja, Raphael demanded to interject himself without knowing what was going on, simply because he hated that it wasn’t a fair fight. He’s still completely tight with Casey and almost murdered Casey’s abusive father at one point until Splinter talked him out of it. Recently, his short fuse and dedication to Casey had been exploited by Shredder as a way of luring Leonardo into a trap and stealing him away.


Affiliation: TMNT
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: Between #6 and #7

The second-oldest, Donatello is of course the brain of the group. In most versions of the TMNT mythos, Raphael is the one who clashes with Leonardo more than anyone else, but here, it’s Donatello. Donatello is purely logical and constantly disagrees with Leonardo’s decisions, occasionally getting into heated arguments. Donatello figured that either Raphael never existed or he wasn’t alive to begin with. He still has a hard time believing in any of the talk about reincarnation, even with all the evidence supporting it. He’s felt that killing Old Hob and Slash would be for the best, strictly to keep them from coming after them. At least when Leonardo gets into it with Raphael, he understands where he’s coming from.

Donatello’s yet to have any real character arc other than him slowly coming to accept that he and the others are reincarnated children from another century. He’s mainly been used as counter talking point or to whip up some kind of invention. In his micro-series issue, he went to an inventor expo and got to meet Harold Lillja, a disgraced genius who ended up being the identity of Donatello’s online troll arch-nemesis. Harold invented an anti-gravity gauntlet (a nice little shoutout to the original Mirage Donatello micro-series issue) and was poached to join Baxter Stockman, but Donatello ended up convincing him that it was the wrong way. Still, Harold had to vanish from society for his own safety thanks to now being an enemy of Stock Gen. He still keeps in touch with Donatello via online gaming, but has not come up since.


Affiliation: TMNT
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: Between #5 and #6

Michelangelo is the youngest of the four, at least in terms of his original human form. He’s also the most optimistic and compassionate, allowing him to get along with humans relatively well without freaking them out. To lend credence to the reincarnation concept, Michelangelo’s shocked the others when he started reading Japanese with no problem, showing that it was a part of him that carried over, much like his nunchaku skills. In his micro-series issue, which centered around Michelangelo sneaking into a costume party for the sake of human interaction, Michelangelo ultimately teamed up with an undercover cop named Kara to protect a green diamond from being stolen by a gang of miscreants. While never outright said, it seemed that Shredder wanted something to do with the gem.

Michelangelo was the most outspoken in not killing Slash when the four were faced with the giant snapping turtle, as it wasn’t Slash’s fault what Stock Gen did to him and what they had programmed him to do. Afterwards, when it seemed Slash had died, Michelangelo searched for any sign that he was still alive and fell into a depression. Raphael wrote it off as him being a wimp about it, but Splinter then dressed him down for daring to call Michelangelo’s compassion a weakness when it was truly his greatest strength, especially in a pessimistic world. Michelangelo also had a good friend named Woody, a guy who worked at a pizza place who would sneak him free pizzas. After a run-in with Slash, Woody had to break ties with Michelangelo for his own wellbeing.

When protecting the Neutrinos from Krang’s forces, Michelangelo found a bit of a connection with Princess Trib and briefly acted as her bodyguard.


Affiliation: TMNT
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: Between #12 and #13

Casey’s father Arnold used to be a tough guy in the streets of New York, but he settled down and got married. When his wife contracted cancer, Arnold fell down the bottle. Casey’s mother begged Casey to be strong and patient with him, while looking out for his wellbeing. Casey kept his promise, but it’s been hard, since his father is a drunk gambler who regularly picks fights with Casey. Due to his mother’s wishes, Casey never fights back as acting like a big, tough man is all his father has. Casey resents the hell out of this and takes out his frustrations by donning a hockey mask and beating up punks on the streets.

Despite being a great hockey player, Casey’s career was in jeopardy due to his failing grades. He found an ad for tutoring in return for lessons in self-defense. That’s where he met April O’Neil. Casey is considered part of the family with the rest of the Turtles, but mostly hangs out with Raphael to help clean up the streets.

After a rather ugly beating from his father (seriously, Casey’s mom sucks), Raphael went off to go kill Arnold. Splinter stopped him and even threatened to kill Arnold himself as a way to teach Raphael a lesson, but instead decided that Casey would live with them from now on.

Recently, the Foot ambushed Raphael and Casey in an alley and dragged Casey away. To draw the Turtles out of hiding as a way to capture Leonardo, Shredder dug his claws into Casey’s midsection. The Turtles got him to the hospital, where he’s currently in critical condition, watched over by April and Angel. After hearing about his son being hospitalized, Arnold Jones went to go see his son, but then overheard Angel referring to him as a no-good, drunken loser who deserves to see his son like this. Arnold promptly left before they could notice he was listening.


Affiliation: TMNT
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: Between #14 and #15

April worked as an intern for Stock Gen Research Inc, unaware of the conspiracies surrounding it. As far as she knew, she was working on biologically treating meat to help feed third world countries. While she wasn’t involved with the turtles experiments, she was still allowed to feed them. She also gave them their names. At the same time, April was grossed out by Splinter, especially because of how they let him run around free.

When April was doing some late-night research, she was attacked by some Foot ninjas. She barely survived the ordeal, partially because Splinter pulled the fire alarm. The authorities thought April was exaggerating the burglary, deciding that whoever attacked her were just guys in ski masks. Either way, the experience led to April deciding to put up an ad that sold her tutoring skills for self-defense, leading to her meeting Casey. One night, when having coffee with Casey, April opened up about her ninja experience. When she namedropped Splinter, Casey did a double-take. He ended up convincing her to follow him to the sewer and upon meeting the Turtles (who had just fought off a bunch of MOUSERs), April passed out.

Upon getting acquainted with the Turtles, April insisted on helping them as to conquer her fears over the robbery incident. She gave them a new place to stay and told them she would help in any way possible, mainly to pay back Splinter for saving her life. Eventually, Splinter was rescued and April got to thank him personally.

April returned to Stock Gen with intent to discover what they were up to. Through some spy work, she discovered some soldiers made of rock walking around with other employees not even batting an eye at it. One of those rock soldiers chased April around, leading to her discovering that Stock Gen was still creating mutated animals for their evil purposes. She inadvertently caused Slash to escape, which caused enough commotion for her to leave the complex without being chased. She also got out of there with a test tube of mutagen, which might come in handy later.


Affiliation: Utrom Empire
First Appearance (shadow): #1
First Appearance (full): #7
Micro-Series Issue: Between #20 and #21

From the first issue, General Krang appeared as a benefactor for Baxter Stockman, supplying him with the mutagen and demanding results to aid his army. Krang has the best makeover in the series as he still has his 8-foot-tall robot body, but he disguises himself at times with a military jacket with high turtleneck to hide his speaker mouth, plus beret. The red eyes are still a giveaway, though.

Eventually, we discovered the truth of who and what he truly is. A member of the “inter-terrestrial” (Krang got kind of pissy when Baxter called him an “extra-terrestrial”) Utrom race, Krang was born a prince. He was a spoiled ruler, which earned him nothing but disdain from his warlord father. Krang decided to sneak onto a military excursion which went very wrong when the real soldiers were killed in an ambush. Krang, having lost his robot body in the melee, was left alone in a truly dangerous jungle. Krang adapted and survived in his brain/slug form and came out of it as an amazing warrior who crushed the enemy behind that assault. His father was proud and finally accepted him as son and second-in-command.

While never told in detail, Krang’s father’s imperial pursuits ultimately led to disaster in the destruction of their home planet Utrominom. The few remaining Utroms are left in stasis (floating in tubes filled with mutagen) while Krang is charged with finding a new home for their empire. He spent many years trying to conquer the planet Neutrino, but his plans were mostly foiled thanks to the rebellion and the help of the Ninja Turtles. While Krang came out the winner in a fight against Leonardo and Michelangelo, Leonardo still succeeded in cutting off one of Krang’s robot arms.

Currently, Krang is licking his wounds on his island fortress on Earth. He’s currently awaiting the construction of the Technodrome, which will terraform Earth so that his race can thrive once again. This is treated as a major threat that the Turtles will have to spend a long time preparing for. Perhaps an eventual alliance with Shredder may be in order.

Krang considers the Foot Clan nothing more than a nuisance, but they’ve definitely gotten under his skin. When his highest-ranking soldier gave him bad news about the Foot interfering with them, Krang strangled him to death (while in brain form!) just because he didn’t say it with enough fear in his voice.


Affiliation: Utrom Empire, Stock Gen
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: Between #20 and #21

Baxter Stockman, like many characters in the series, grew up with some serious daddy issues. His father wanted him to understand how the world works and did so via making him play an endless series of tense games of chess filled with life lessons. This worked a little too well, as Baxter ended up doing a corporate takeover of Stock Gen and fired his father.

Baxter was hired by Krang to experiment with his mutagen and help create an army of unbeatable soldiers. Baxter did this, not realizing that Krang was really a talking alien brain in a robot suit. Baxter did not win the favor of Krang, as he experienced never-ending delays and setbacks, such as the escaping of the test subjects and the inability to catch them. Still, Baxter remained calm. Krang considered Baxter’s efforts in the genetics game to be a complete and utter failure, but he saw some strong potential in his mechanical work. Baxter had sent his MOUSER (Minefield Ordinance Unarming System Enhanced Robot) army after the Turtles and while that didn’t provide perfect results, it showed Krang that Baxter is exactly the kind of mind needed to oversee the creation of the Technodrome.

Despite being so well-versed in chess, Baxter is more defined by his expert poker face, especially as he remains cool and collected when going through with his sadistic experiments. Even with the increasing oddness around him, Baxter only loses his composure when the time calls for it. For instance, when working on the Technodrome, he created a mutant fly creature (of course) for the sake of physical labor. This blew up in his face when it got loose and tried to kill him. Baxter desperately begged for help from Krang, but the whole thing was a ruse for Baxter to get access to rooms that he would not have been allowed in normally.

Baxter is smart enough to know that following Krang is a dead end. At worst, he’ll be deemed no longer useful and be killed. At best, he’ll be treated as nothing more than a pet in a world devoid of human life. He’s planning on betraying Krang and he’ll be seen as a hero for it.


Affiliation: Stock Gen, his own street gang, anti-human alliance
First Appearance: #1
Micro-Series Issue: During #23

Hob was a cat owned by a loving little boy whose mother grew increasingly frustrated with the boy’s inability to clean the litter box. To teach him a lesson, the mother threw Hob outside. Hob had to learn to fend for himself and earn his meals. He was in the sewer when he saw an easy dinner in pre-mutated Raphael. Splashing himself with the mutagen, Hob carried Raphael off and then got his eye scratched out by Splinter. Hob collapsed in an alley and went through a transformation that turned him into a humanoid cat. He found himself suddenly able to understand English and immediately confronted Baxter Stockman and Chet Allen, who were investigating the incident. Hob volunteered his services if it meant revenge on that rat.

Baxter experimented on Hob thoroughly. While some experiments helped him get used to his new body, many were torturous and made Hob grow to distrust Baxter. He eventually talked Baxter into letting him out to hunt Splinter himself. Realizing that his appearance freaked people out, Hob was able to create a street gang based on his fearsome appearance and strength. They regularly antagonized the Turtles, but about the time Raphael was reunited with his brothers, the other thugs decided they were out of their league and split.

Hob remained a henchman for Baxter. While Hob was a mutant cat, Baxter decided that extracting his blood wouldn’t be worth it, considering how mentally unstable he is. Still, it was a threat he threw his way at times. Hob controlled the MOUSERs to kidnap Splinter and prepared to get his revenge, but the Foot Clan intervened and stole Splinter away. Baxter had Hob take the fall for this failure and shot him in the chest, leaving him to die.

He survived and recovered. He tracked down Slash – also believed to be dead – and made him an ally. Hob has grown to hate all humans and figures that he shouldn’t have to stand for it. He swiped a sample of Splinter’s blood from the lab and plans to create more like himself, hoping to play Magneto to this world’s mutant race. Willing to let the past be the past, he’s offered the Turtles information on Leonardo’s whereabouts in exchange for considering being part of his army.


Affiliation: Stock Gen, Neutrinos, Utrom Empire
First Appearance (Chet Allen): #1
First Appearance (Fugitoid): Micro-Series: Fugitoid
Micro-Series Issue: Between #16 and #17

From the first issue, we’ve gotten to meet Dr. Chet Allen, a weirdo scientist working at Stock Gen. He’s shown as April’s supervisor, but already there was something off about him. He was very, very nervous and constantly stuttering his words. At best, he appeared to be some kind of nerdy dude creeping on April, but at worst he appeared to be a real shady character. Later we’d see that he was basically Baxter’s right-hand man. Further down the line, we’d see Chet on the phone with someone else, showing that he was selling out Stock Gen information to another party.

Turns out Chet wasn’t such a creep after all. Hell, it turns out that Chet Allen never even existed. Dr. Honeycutt was a Neutrino scientist conscripted to aid Krang and save his race. Gradually, Honeycutt realized that Krang is a terrible megalomaniac, but was too afraid to betray him in any way. He finally decided to side with the resistance when he realized that his own son was starting to behave like Krang ruling the galaxy was the coolest thing ever. Krang found out about this and attacked the resistance’s base. In order to save his family, Honeycutt hooked his mind up to an android and used it to run through a wall of flames. Honeycutt’s body was killed by the inferno, forever trapping his consciousness in the robot body. His family, much like many other innocents, were vaporized by Sergeant Granitor’s army. Despite being super pissed, Honeycutt escaped through a portal to Earth, where he was able to morph his robot body into that of a human.

Stopping Krang was Honeycutt’s top priority, so he took the guise of Chet Allen in hopes of getting a closer look at the belly of the beast. He somehow got in contact with the Foot Clan, as although he realized they were also evil people, they were still not on Krang’s level. For a while, he had been leaking information to them.

April went to Chet for help in finding out what Stock Gen was up to. That’s when the Neutrino resistance appeared to bring Chet – now known as the Fugitoid – back to their world. Fugitoid helped out in the battle against Krang, but in the end, while the battle was won, Krang still had the upper hand. If Fugitoid didn’t give himself up, Michelangelo would die. Fugitoid surrendered and is now using his genius intellect in helping put together the Technodrome, all while hoping the Turtles are able to prepare in time.


Affiliation: Foot Clan
First Appearance (flashback): #5
First Appearance (present): Micro-Series: Raphael
Secret History of the Foot Clan: Between #20 and #21

Centuries ago, there was a swordsman named Takeshi Tatsuo, who was part of the Yuu Clan. His master was afraid of Takeshi’s ambitions, so he sent him into a trap and had him fight dozens of skilled warriors. Takeshi survived as the last man standing, but just barely. A witch named Kitsune took him in and healed him. Takeshi got his revenge on his master and took over, renaming it the Foot Clan (named after a bloody foot print that came from his great battle). Takeshi led the Foot Clan for over 100 years, which made his subordinates more and more suspicious. Rumors arose that Takeshi had made a pact with a witch and some kind of demon, with his reward being eternal life.

Proud warrior Oroku Maji saw that every once and a while, an elderly Takeshi would drink down some kind of magic potion and regain his youth. One night, Maji and some other clan-mates attacked during one of those rituals. Maji was able to slay Takeshi, causing Kitsune to run off and swear that Maji’s house would be the end of him.

Maji’s fears were realized. His son Oroku Saki appeared to be the reincarnation of Takeshi. He tried to go nurture over nature and raise him well, but it only went so far. Saki was still a tremendous braggart with a short fuse, bringing him into conflict with Hamato Yoshi. Maji and Yoshi tried to rein in Saki’s anger, which may have worked if not for Kitsune appearing before Saki and seducing him into embracing his destined darkness. In an act of history repeating itself, Maji sent his son into a trap in hopes of having him snuffed out. Saki came out alive – albeit with a wicked scar – and killed his father before taking over the Foot Clan… again, for the first time.

Saki hated the idea of having to constantly bargain with a demon to gain temporary immortality, but after years of this, Kitsune figured it out. First, they summoned the “demon”, who appeared to be a slightly-less-futuristic-looking Utrom whose plans were never truly explained. The green liquid Saki would drink turned out to be some form of mutagen, which was the Utrom’s payment. Saki had his men slay the Utrom and stole a large collection of mutagen. From there, he went under a spell where he bathed in a tomb of mutagen for many years. Through the blood of a descendant, he’d be resurrected, fully immortal. Thanks to Karai supplying the blood, Shredder returned in the present in New York City to once again lead the Foot to greatness.


Affiliation: Foot Clan
First Appearance: Micro-Series: Raphael
Micro-Series Issue: Between #23 and #24

Raphael and Casey found someone being attacked by thugs in an alley. Rescuing the damsel, Raphael found her to be a mutant arctic fox. Alopex told the story about how she was experimented on by Stock Gen and escaped, gaining Raphael’s sympathy. He would have led her to his home if not for realizing that the kicks she delivered in self-defense were really, really good. Too good. She was a professional. Raphael threw her off a rooftop to see how she’d react, planning to save her if she needed saving. Instead, he found out that his instincts were right and Alopex was the enemy.

While we’ve yet to get a real look at Alopex’s origins, she is a high-ranking member of the Foot Clan, at least on the level of Karai. She’s completely loyal and subservient to Shredder and has acted as his go-to enforcer. She’s fought against Splinter and Raphael – who has become something of a rival to her – and lost each time. We’ll get a better look at who she is in a few days once her micro-series issue drops.


Affiliation: Foot Clan
First Appearance: Micro-Series: Raphael

Bebop and Rocksteady have yet to be labeled as such, but their one appearance in the IDW line is unmistakable. The two were attacking Alopex, luring in Raphael and Casey Jones. Despite Rocksteady boasting about being, “a goddamn rhino,” the two got taken down easily. When Alopex’s attempt to infiltrate failed, it was shown that the two punks were working with her all along. The two didn’t take their beating well, feeling that they want to become mutants too, just to even the advantage. Shredder appeared to them, saying that they’ll get their chance when he feels they’re ready.

What they’re suggesting hasn’t been established as possible yet in this series. All the mutants we’ve seen were all animals who became human-like. At no point have we seen a human transform into an animal due to the mutagen.

While they’ve yet to appear since then, Karai did once mention that the Foot has gang members keeping their ears to the ground and informing the clan of any important information. It could be assumed that that’s what role Bebop and Rocksteady fulfill.

Coincidentally, IDW just solicited a micro-series issue about the two being released in a few months.


First Appearance: #6
2012 Annual: Between #14 and #15

The Turtles came across a two-on-one rooftop fight between warring ninja factions. Donatello recognized the disadvantaged ninja’s style as parkour mixed with Savate boxing. The Turtles didn’t even know that the Foot were active in the present at this time, so all they knew was that this French ninja guy was outnumbered. Raphael and Leonardo argued over whether or not to help him as the lone ninja took on the two Foot rivals himself. He did rather well, but the numbers won out and he was mortally wounded. Raphael chased off the ninjas as Leonardo tried to comfort the dying man. His last words were, “La… unf… guerre… est en route.” Donatello knew enough French to transcribe that as, “War is coming.”

The Savate Clan remained out of the spotlight after that, finally reappearing about a year later in the 2012 Annual, an 80-page spectacular by Eastman. We got to see a bit more of the Savate, showing an uneasy truce with the Foot Clan. The Savate, run by a man named Fabrice, would offer a briefcase of diamonds to the Foot as a tribute. Unfortunately, due to a car accident, the briefcase went flying out of the car and the whole thing became a Guy Ritchie film with ninjas. If anything, the story kind of ruined the mysterious appeal of the first appearance by making them a bit inept, to the point that they had two corrupt cops investigating the situation and neither knew the other was on the take.

It all led to a big fight between the Turtles, the Savate, the Foot, the Purple Dragons and some other colorful characters, like a brain-damaged former boxer who lived on the street. Casey threw the diamonds into a river and the SWAT Team arrived to break everything up.

At the end of the story, Fabrice ended up in jail. His second-in-command Victor – who was already plotting a takeover – took over as leader and refuses to give Shredder any sort of tribute. If there was any semblance of a truce between the Foot and the Savate, it’s long gone now. The war has begun.


Affiliation: Foot Clan
First Appearance: #9
Micro-Series Issue: Between #24 and #25

Little is known about Karai as of this writing. She was the leader of the Foot Clan and her blood was used to resurrect her ancestor Oroku Saki. Despite the many generations between them, she still refers to him as grandfather. Like Shredder, she is overly confident and quick to anger, but the problem is that Shredder is able to call her out on it. He feels her to be a great and skilled ninja, but still not worthy enough to run the Foot nor be his second-in-command. The fact that Shredder chose to seek out Leonardo over her for that position only fuels her rage. She’s become increasingly jealous of Leonardo while doing whatever possible to appease Shredder.

Recently, Karai invaded Krang’s island stronghold to steal several gallons of mutagen, killing a comatose Utrom in the process. She intends to use it to increase the Foot Clan’s overall strength.


Affiliation: Purple Dragons
First Appearance: #10

Angel’s father was running buddies with Casey’s father, so they grew up together. Angel’s father runs a bar called the Skara Brae and her mother died in a car accident. Her mother’s death caused Angel to act out and run with a bad crowd. Casey was able to get through to her and keep her on the straight and narrow. Angel was inspired by Casey’s ability to keep his head high in light of his own mother’s death, even with his abusive father around. She feels indebted to Casey and always reminds that she owes him for saving her life.

Angel runs the Purple Dragons, which is known for being a gang, but under her rule, they’ve become a bit more of a community watch. Their hands have been full for quite a while due to the rise of ninja gangs and mutants ruling the streets. The Purple Angels attacked Michelangelo, leading to a brawl broken up when Casey made the scene. He convinced Angel that the Turtles were on the up-and-up and got her help track down Splinter. Angel made it clear that she was only leading them there, as it wasn’t Purple Dragon business, but in the end, she went to aid Casey on her own.

Leaving the Skara Brae one night, she saw April driving her van as the Turtles went off to find the kidnapped Casey. Angel insisted on tagging along with April due to her loyalty to Casey. Last seen, she and April are at Casey’s bedside, hoping he pulls through.


Affiliation: Anti-human alliance
First Appearance: Micro-Series: April

While Old Hob’s blood didn’t make for the best source of enhanced mutagen because of his mental state, desperate times called for desperate measures. Stock Gen took samples of Hob’s blood and injected them into a rather unruly snapping turtle, hoping they’d at least be able to create something to hunt down the Turtles for them. The growth was slower and likely more painful than the other mutants. Upon becoming a full-grown mutant, Slash was completely unpredictable. Many times, security would have to subdue him after a rampage.

Slash escaped captivity when April investigated the happenings in Stock Gen. The media named him, as there were reports of some kind of giant lizard attacking people and leaving huge slash marks everywhere. Slash attacked Michelangelo’s friend Woody and although he survived and wasn’t overly hurt, it still scared him too much that he refuses to interact with the Turtles. Eventually, Slash saw the Turtles take out some muggers. Remembering what he was created for, he tore off a piece of a thug’s black shirt and turned it into a makeshift eye-mask.

Slash tracked the Turtles down to their new underground home, where he showed off his Predator-style vocabulary of repeating words he heard under different context. The four argued over whether it was right to kill him or not, but soon Leonardo was left with no choice. April and Casey arrived, inadvertently garnering Slash’s attention. Slash and Leonardo tumbled into each other and once Slash stood up, he had a katana shoved deep into his shoulder. He fell into an indoor body of water and vanished, believed to be dead.

He was found washed ashore by Old Hob. Hob recruited him to join his anti-human alliance. While Slash is simple-minded, he sees Hob as a sympathetic figure worth trusting. Last seen, Slash had to be restrained as Hob talked to Splinter, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello about the whereabouts of Leonardo.


First Appearance (as a race): #14
First Appearance (Dask, Kala and Zak): #17

Neutrino is a planet that exists in Dimension X. Krang had conquered it with his rock soldier army and a rebellion was put together to liberate the planet. Dask, Kala and Zak, the most annoying recurring characters on the 80’s cartoon, were reimagined as something readable by becoming badass freedom fighters. Dask is the leader and while Kala has yet to get any kind of characterization, Zak is the aggressive, impulsive one on the group. Makes sense that he and Raphael clashed early on, then became comrades.

Commander Dask was sent by the Neutrino king to find Professor Honeycutt. They traveled to Earth, just as April and Chet Allen discussed the goings on of Stock Gen. Since the Neutrinos appeared with guns pointed all over the place, the Turtles expected the worst and a fight broke out. The Neutrinos teleported back to Dimension X, bringing Chet/Fugitoid and the Turtles with them. Both sides were attacked by rock soldiers, causing them to see eye-to-eye and get over their misunderstanding.

They reappeared during an attack on their headquarters. Although Michelangelo was able to save the princess, Krang’s forces still got away with the king and queen. Dask’s team prepared a counterstrike to save their leaders with the Turtles insisting on joining them. Princess Trib agreed. Zak and Raphael led an assault on Krang’s forces as a distraction, Donatello worked with Fugitoid on science stuff and Dask, Kala, Trib, Leonardo and Michelangelo tried to sneak into Krang’s citadel.

Donatello and Fugitoid ended up saving everyone via an EMP weapon that only affected Krang’s army. While Krang ultimately got away with the Fugitoid, they still liberated Neutrino, so they have that going for them. The Neutrinos and the Turtles parted ways as friends as the Turtles were sent back to Earth.


Affiliation: Foot Clan
First Appearance: Secret History of the Foot Clan #1

Kitsune found a dying Takeshi Tatsuo and brought him to her home to magically heal him. While her motives have always been mysterious, she had helped him remain youthful so that he could reign as leader of the Foot Clan for over 100 years. In return, they made a pact with a “demon” in the form of an Utrom, who supplied them with mutagen. Kitsune herself has always had the ability to transform herself into a three-tailed fox and it’s hard to say if such a power is caused from mutagen, magic or a mixture of the two.

Takeshi was killed by Oroku Maji, causing Kitsune to escape and curse Maji out of anger. As part of that curse, Maji’s son Oroku Saki was born with the reincarnated soul of Takeshi. She visited Oroku Saki many years later, opened his mind and made him realize who he truly was. Together, they reclaimed the Foot Clan and killed the Utrom. Kitsune figured out a more permanent solution to Saki’s mortality and put him under a spell with the use of mutagen that put him in a slumber for hundreds of years.

To make sure she could be there with him, she went in a similar hibernation process. In the present, the Foot grabbed an archeologist/historian named Dr. Miller (not to be confused with Officer Miller because, you know, this is a Ninja Turtles comic and there needs to be Miller references everywhere) and charged him with finding Kitsune’s tomb… or else. Miller’s calculations were correct and Kitsune returned.

Like I said, it’s hard to know exactly what Kitsune is after. At the very least, it’s shown that she and Shredder have a romantic relationship, but there’s likely more to it. Last seen, Kitsune has been getting into Leonardo’s mind to remake him as Shredder’s loyal apprentice.

And that’s all the major players so far. Hun from the 4Kids series has yet to show up in the IDW comics, but he does have a micro-series issue on the way. From the blurb, it seems he’s going to be taking over the Purple Dragons for the sake of evil.

Outside of that, there are still plenty of franchise mainstays yet to show up. Despite the bloated cast, we’re due for an appearance from the Rat King and Leatherhead. Who knows? Perhaps the Old Hob plotline will lead us to a bunch of the Mutanimal characters showing up.

Either way, the series is a complete blast.

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2 comments to “T-U-R-T-L-E Primer: A Guide to the First Two Years of IDW’s TMNT Comic”

  1. I haven’t read the series, but if it’s playing the mysticism straight, it seems to me that Kitsune may be a fox that can become a woman, not the other way around. It’s pretty common in Japanese mythology; the more tails a fox has, the greater its power, and there are several stories about them transforming into beautiful women and seducing human men. They aren’t always malicious, but they’re tricky, and often dangerous. There’s a fairly extensive Wikipedia article on them, if you’re interested.

  2. Wow! Fantastic article! Thanks so much for the kind words and loyal support!


    Tom Waltz