Leonardo, the leader

“I find comfort in believing that there’s some kind of controlling order...
a sense to all this... instead of life just being a stream of chaos.
But that’s the leader in me."
- TMNT Vol. 2, #2

Generally thought of as being the leader of the Turtles, Leonardo takes responsibility for his brothers in much the same way that their sensei, Splinter, does. While the others have their own hobbies and pursuits, Leonardo dedicates himself to the art of Bushido, the Japanese way of the warrior. Failure is unacceptable to him.

Leonardo was the one to accept the burden of a second battle with Oroku Saki (TMNT Vol.1, #21). After cleaving the head from his opponent’s body and reaffirming his master’s honor, Leonardo’s place as leader of his brothers became better accepted and respected. He later sealed a pact with Karai of the Foot Clan that would declare a truce and end their long conflict (TMNT Vol. 1, #57 - 61). After peace with the Foot Clan was established, Leonardo began to doubt he and his brothers’ bond and purpose. When the other Turtles briefly moved to different locales, Leonardo chose to make the sewers his home once again (TMNT Vol. 2, #2 & 3). His brothers and Splinter joined him in the sewers, moving in sometime before their eighteenth birthday (TMNT Vol. 3, #1). Currently he is following his sensei in the more enlightened arts, focusing on heightening his mental prowess by journeying to the Astral Plane (TMNT Vol. 3, #2, 3, & 15). He and Raphael now come into odds, as Leonardo wants to lead the Foot Clan with Raphael, despite that the Foot pledged allegiance to only Raphael (TMNT Vol. 3, #17). Leonardo has had his left hand bitten off by King Komodo, the half-brother of Warlord Go-Komodo, in a sewer confrontation (TMNT Vol. 3, #18). Donatello soon made him a new removable artificial hand, though it proved to fall short of expectations. Leo opts for a cap instead, one that can telescope out at a moment's notice a wakizashi-length blade (TMNT Vol. 3, #22 & 23).

Little is known what the future holds for Leonardo. The opening prologue to Tales of the TMNT #2, in which a much older Leonardo briefly reflects on the Turtles’ first meeting with the character Nobody, we see him dressed in a samurai-esque garb, maintaining a vigil over the New York skyline. Conjectured from bits and pieces of what we have seen from the other Turtles’ distant futures, it seems that Leonardo, while the others devote themselves to other pursuits, may be the only Turtle to continue the watch over Manhattan.

Future Leonardo

“We’re a team; and as a team, let’s go kick some ass!"
- TMNT Vol.1, #6

(top) Leo, pencilled & inked by A.C. Farley
(bottom center) Future Leo, pencilled by Kevin Eastman & inked by Ryan Brown, digitally colored by Andrew Modeen [Tales of the TMNT #2]



Raphael, the restless

“Can’t help it... don’t think... have no control. Splinter always said so...”
- TMNT Vol. 1, #21

The hot-headed Turtle, Raphael has low tolerance and a short temper. He rushes into situations the others would be wary of, taking the initiative when it comes to combat. While his brothers may hesitate it comes to killing, Raphael is not adverse to delivering the death blow to his enemies.

Raphael has suffered much from his brash, sometimes irrational behavior. First nearly falling to an overly ambitious assault on Shredder Elite Foot (TMNT Vol. 1, #21), then becoming briefly demutated by the Bloodsucker creature (TMNT Vol. 1, #24 - 26), then being captured and studied by DARPA after a rooftop battle with Dr. Baxter Stockman (TMNT Vol. 2, #7 - 12), then recently when an invasion of the Turtles’ home in the sewers led to Raphael being shot in the face, scarring and blinding his left eye for life (TMNT Vol. 3, #1), he has seen much in the way of strife. Between his demutation and capture, when the Turtles each briefly moved into different locales, Raphael was the first to decide to move out, and chose to move into a cathedral (TMNT Vol. 2, #2 & 3). He later moved back in with his brothers in the sewers sometime before their eighteenth birthday (TMNT Vol. 3, #1). Some time later, Raphael took up the mantle of the Shredder, masquerading as Oroku Saki to inspire a greater sense of fear in his opponents as he asserted command of the New York Foot in the missing Karai’s stead, swearing allegiance to them, but then found himself facing none other than his bat-mutated sensei, Splinter (TMNT Vol. 3, #13 - 15). When his brothers sought him out, falsely believing him captured by a resurrected Oroku Saki, infiltrated his headquarters by disguising themselves as Shredder Elite Foot and confronting him in person. When Leo began to fight him, the two realized who each other were, and laughed about it. The other Turtles seem to accept his accepting of the Shredder persona. Raphael, joining his brothers in the Astral Plane to try and help the rabid and bat-transformed Splinter, stabbed Splinter in the back to save Donatello’s life. As the now-dying Splinter then returned to his rat-form, Raphael feared the aged sensei died in his arms as Raphael went on to cry over what he had done. He had actually, in fact, done the very thing necessary to save his master, as it was soon revealed that Splinter survived in the real world, then going on to move back into the Turtles’ abode. Fed up with his brothers' qualms about his role of leadership in the Foot, Raph decides his place is with the Foot Clan, not them (TMNT Vol. 3, #13-18).

In the future it seems Raphael is destined to grow apart from the others. Judging from both the backstory in the Michaelangelo special, the opening prologue of Tales of the TMNT #6, and a pinup by Eric Talbot, he will forget Manhattan and New York, leaving behind everything he knew to live on the bayou. Alone, it seems he is destined to live out his days hunting alligators and rabbits. In the Road Hogs supplement for Palladium Books’ After the Bomb series for TMNT And Other Strangeness, we see Raphael in the late twenty-first century as the wizened sensei of a new generation of Ninja Turtles (three of them, one of which female) upon the almost complete inheritance of the Earth by mutant animals following a nuclear holocaust.

Future Raphael - self-exile    Future Raphael - self-exile

Future Raphael - self-exile   Future Raphael - sensei of a new generation

“I’ve always felt apart from them somehow... my seriousness, my intensity separates me.”
- Michaelangelo

(top) Raph, pencilled by Frank Fosco & inked by Erik Larsen [TMNT Vol. 3, #7]
(bottom upper left) Future Raph, pencilled by Ryan Brown & inked by Eric Talbot, digitally colored by Andrew Modeen [Tales of the TMNT #6]
(bottom upper right) Future Raph, painted by Eric Talbot
(bottom lower left) Future Raph, pencilled and inked by Jim Lawson (Michaelangelo special)
(bottom lower right) Future sensei Raph, pencilled by Brent Carpenter, inked by Brent Carpenter & Kevin Siembieda [TMNT & Other Strangeness: After the Bomb - Road Hogs]


Michaelangelo, the creative

“Poor baby! I’ll kiss your booboo and make it all better!”
- TMNT Vol. 3, #6

Easily the least serious of the Turtles, Michaelangelo has a penchant for all things humorous. He is the best friend of Raphael. Though he can easily drop his casual demeanor when the situation demands it, his heart is of youth, vigor, and creativity. In his spare time he indulges in fantasies, often trying his hand at writing stories and poetry.

As he tends to stay out of trouble, Michaelangelo’s life has known little in the way of trauma. Finding a companion one Christmas with a stray cat he named Klunk (Michaelangelo special), his adventures since have been of a more creative nature. When the Turtles briefly moved into separate locales, Michaelangelo chose to move in with April O’Neil and Casey Jones in their apartment, so he could be with Shadow, their stepdaughter, whom he had often babysat and had taken a liking to (TMNT Vol. 2, #3). He then moved back in with his brothers in the sewers sometime before their eighteenth birthday (TMNT Vol. 3, #1). When Shadow was kidnapped by the Foot Clan, Michaelangelo went on a solo mission to get her back from Antoine Puzorelli after Raphael failed to do so himself (TMNT Vol. 3, #8). Recently, he has had two poems published in "Poetry Digest" (TMNT Vol. 3, #6), then later two more and a short story (TMNT Vol. 3, #15). He briefly met Sara Hill, AKA "Horridus," one night with his brothers and Officer Dragon after their confrontation with the cloned Complete Carnage (TSD series #22), whom he would later meet again when he was in Chicago looking for Splinter. They kissed before he had to leave, and Sara later sent him a portrait of her (TMNT Vol. 3, #10, 11, & 15). He now claims to be working on a romance novel, influenced by Sara. April later informed Mike that the publisher said that if they like his revises on the novel, they will pay a three thousand dollar advance (TMNT Vol. 3, #15 & 17).

We know virtually nothing of what the future will hold for Michaelangelo, save that he, like the others, will split up and go their separate ways. It seems likely that when the Turtles separate, Mike would lie low, continuing to write his stories and poetry. The prologue to Tales of the TMNT #1 seems to indicate that he is successful to that end. Where Michaelangelo’s path ultimately leads is, for now, a destiny yet to be revealed.

Future Michaelangelo  Future Michaelangelo

“Hold him for me, guys! I owe him one! Nobody makes me look bad!”
- The Savage Dragon (regular series) #2

(top) Mike, pencilled & inked by A.C. Farley
(bottom left) Future Mike, pencilled & inked by Kevin Eastman, digitally colored by Andrew Modeen [Tales of the TMNT #1]
(bottom right) Not-too-distant future Mike & Klunk, pencilled & inked by Eric Talbot, digitally colored by Andrew Modeen [TMNT Vol. 1, #49]


Donatello, the inventor

“We’re not the guardians of society, Raphael... we never were.”
- TMNT Vol. 1, #19

Perhaps the Turtle least like the others, Donatello, a thinker, more or less keeps to himself. His interest in everything technical and scientific building an awkward barrier between him and his brothers, he often spends time pondering many things in his head while he tinkers with such things as computer programming and game developing.

Aside from an adventure with an artist named Kirby who had the power of a crystal that created a universe of his own design he and Donatello entered (Donatello special), his solo adventure into the wilderness of Northampton at Splinter’s suggestion that led to his bringing the other Turtles there to slay the Adversary, during which he began to believe himself to be the mystical "Shaman" who would oppose the Adversary guided by the spirit of the Great Turtle, (Turtle Soup #1, TMNT Vol. 1, #37), and a personal ordeal he dealt with with Splinter when he shot one of the last of the Shredder Elite Foot dead (TMNT Vol. 1, #61, 62 & Vol. 2, #1), Donatello has led a relatively quiet and peaceful life. When the Turtles briefly moved into separate locales, Don decided to move into Casey Jones’ now-abandoned Northampton residence. He later returned to New York just in time to help his brothers put a stop to the cyborg Baxter Stockman (TMNT Vol. 2, #3 & 7). He moved back in with his brothers in the sewers sometime before their eighteenth birthday (TMNT Vol. 3, #1). His relatively peaceful and quiet life continued until when, after being captured at he and his brothers’ eighteenth birthday party by the daughter of Oroku Saki, Pimiko, critically shot, and dropped out of a helicopter over Manhattan (breaking his shell), he merged with the symbiote of a deceased cyborg to stay alive (TMNT Vol. 3, #1 - 5). Being a cyborg then himself, it had only added fuel to the fire of his interests in the technical areas, as it allowed him to manipulate technological devices and perform repairs with a mere thought. Trouble began to brew early when the Artificial Intelligence program within his suit began taking over for him, nearly making him murder Casey Jones in an act of overreaction (TMNT Vol. 3, #6). It seemed he couldn’t be happier, but then, after a confrontation with DeathWatch, the computer AI seemed to have taken over for Don while his spirit aimlessly wandered the Astral Plane. It was revealed the cyborg symbiote itself was mutated to sentience and independence by the mutagen in Donatello’s bloodstream. After the AI became independent, took on a life of its own, and left his body, Don eventually recuperated in the Turtles’ lair, back to his old cyborg self (sans AI) with slightly modified and perhaps more deadly armor (TMNT Vol. 3, #11 - 15).

In the future, however, it seems Donatello will not remain a cyborg. Both the tale featured in Plastron Café #1 and the vision in TMNT Volume 2, #1 seem to cement that he somehow manages to return to normal. It has been suggested by TMNT editor Erik Larsen (half-jokingly) that Donatello may have cloned himself, perhaps transferring his consciousness/mind or entire brain into the clone (Erik’s exact words in the lettercol of #2, Volume 3 were: "... heck, maybe they clone him a new body fifty years from now"). In a vision sequence in TMNT Vol. 2, #1, we see Donatello traveling over the hillsides of Chihaya Village, Japan to bury Splinter, before an aircar appears overhead of him and the vision ceases (could it be a modified version of the aircar seen in the current Volume 3? The Turtles have altered the car before, so it is definitely possible). Living alone in Honda Province, Japan, Donatello lives in relative solitude, his only apparent companion being the computer Artificial Intelligence program he calls "Chet." In the Plastron Café #1 tale, Donatello is training in his home in Japan within a holographic simulation. In this simulation he fights Foot Soldiers and the Shredder in a rooftop scenario pulled from the Turtles early days. At the simulation’s end, he actually faces the Turtles, including himself, all as they appeared at that early time. Angrily, he shuts off the simulation at the sudden flashback. He then cries. Either his sobbing is simply a result of him sadly looking back at how the Turtles eventually grew apart, or a result of some dark calamity that influenced him into seclusion in Japan.

Future Donatello - the burial of Splinter   Future Donatello - training

Future Donatello - a Turtle reflects

“We live in hiding—no one even knows about us! We could never become legends... could we?”
- TMNT Vol.1, #43

(top) Don, pencilled by Frank Fosco & inked by Erik Larsen [TMNT Vol. 3, #4]
(bottom upper left) Future Don - the burial of Splinter, pencilled & inked by Jim Lawson, and colored by Mary Woodring [TMNT Vol. 2, #1]
(bottom upper right) Future Don, pencilled by Peter Laird & inked by Cyberinkworks Studio, digitally colored by Andrew Modeen [Plastron Café #1]
(bottom ) Future Don, pencilled by Peter Laird & inked by Cyberinkworks Studio [Plastron Café #1] 


Jonin Splinter, the mentor    Splinter, the Changed

“You underestimate me, my son. I am old, but still I am ninja!”
- TMNT : Challenges

The sensei and, for all intents and purposes, the father of the Turtles. An ordinary pet rat in Japan, he watched and memorized the art of ninjitsu from his owner, Foot Clan member Hamato Yoshi. When Yoshi and his wife, Tang Shen, were exiled to New York and later killed by Oroku Saki, he broke free and fled to the sewers. It was there that he became exposed to the TCRI mutagen that mutated the four baby turtles he encountered, as well as himself. He taught the Turtles everything he knew from watching Yoshi, bringing them up in the martial arts so that they would be able to one day avenge the death of Hamato Yoshi by killing Oroku Saki in honorable combat.

Splinter remained the father figure of the Turtles for all of their adventures, offering his wisdom and sagely advice. After the Turtles completed their task of defeating Shredder (TMNT Vol. 1, #1 & 21), Splinter much later went on a journey of enlightenment, finding the knowledge he sought from the apparition that was once the Rat King (TMNT Vol. 1, #55 - 59). When, after the death of her father, April O’Neil sought to talk to Splinter once more, the two of them accepted each other as father and daughter (TMNT Vol. 1, #62). While spending a few days in contemplation with Donatello, who was recuperating from the battles with the Shredder Elite Foot following the peace between the Turtles and the Foot Clan, Splinter received a grim vision of his own death in the future, one that made it seem he would one day be slain by one of the Turtles (TMNT Vol. 2, #1). Splinter, though still with Donatello for as long as he stayed in Casey Jones’ Northampton residence with him, was then absent from the Turtles’ lives for a time, though he moved back in with them sometime before their eighteenth birthday, for the celebration of which he baked them a cake and interestingly enough presented them with a bowl of four turtles (TMNT Vol. 3, #1). One of the four pet turtles was accidentally crushed by the then-cyborg Donatello (TMNT Vol. 3, #6). After an unwanted meeting with Warlord Komodo brought on by his capture by Pimiko, the daughter of Oroku Saki, at the Turtles’ eighteenth birthday party, Splinter became injected with a synthetic mutagen. As the mutagen operated differently than the mutagen he was exposed to as a normal rat, coming into contact with bats in a cave he was forced to hide in mutated him into a giant bat (TMNT Vol. 3, #1 -5). Infected with rabies as well, his mind became clouded with insanity, an insanity than remained, even after Leonardo injected him with the cure (TMNT Vol. 3, #9). His bat-form remained when he confronted one of his pupils, Raphael, as he found the Turtle masquerading as the Shredder, his sworn enemy. After a brief battle of mistaken identity in which he badly injured Raphael, he was incapacitated and captured by Raphael’s Foot disciples. When subsequently captured by the Foot, all four of the Turtles gathered around him while in a state of unconsciousness and traveled to the Astral Plane in an effort to try and help restore his sanity by curing his rabid state with the aid of Cheng. When Splinter attacked Donatello, Raphael, acting in defense of his brother and knowing that if killed in the Astral Plane you die in reality, stabbed Splinter in the back with his sai. Splinter, now sane and returned to his rat-form, came frighteningly close to dying in the arms of the sobbing Raphael. He awoke to the real world back to his old rat self, and after a few weeks, was relatively recovered from the whole experience and moved into the Turtles’ new cemetery abode (TMNT #14 - 17). When confronted with an assassination attempt by Pimiko while he watched TV in April O'Neil and Casey Jones' apartment, he quickly subdued and bound her, then had tea with her before she escaped. Soon afterward, however, it seems Pimiko returned the favor, leaving Splinter tied up on the floor to be found by April (TMNT Vol. 3, #20 & 21). It seemed Cheng had betrayed Splinter, leeching his strength since curing him earlier (TMNT Vol. 3, #23).

In the future, perhaps near future, death awaits Splinter. Death, it seems, at the hands of one of the Turtles. A vision he experienced of his death following the truce with the Foot Clan indicated such in TMNT Vol. 2, #1, as well as establishing that he will one day return to his original rat form before his death. This vision may have been a slight variation on the actual events seen on the last pages of TMNT Vol. 3, #16, which makes Raphael responsible for his "death." In #17, however, it is revealed that Splinter survived and was back to normal.

The death of Splinter

“Ah... once more, the universe allows a glimpse... of its myriad wonders...
  its imponderable mysteries! Yet, it is ever so... from life, death... and from death... life!”

- TMNT Vol. 1, #59

(top left) Old Splinter, done by A.C. Farley
(top right) Temporary Bat-mutated Splinter, pencilled by Frank Fosco & inked by Mark Heike [TMNT Vol. 3, #14]
(bottom) The [envisioned] death of Splinter, pencilled & inked by Jim Lawson, & colored by Mary Woodring [TMNT Vol. 2, #1] 


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