As the TMNT franchise approached its fifteenth year, it seemed as if there wasn’t all that much to celebrate. The first cartoon was over. Attempts at a fourth film had long since been abandoned. Mirage wasn’t producing any new material, and Image series, lasted only twenty-three issues. The turtles had returned to television in 1997, in the live-action Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, but that only lasted one season and appears to have little to recommend it. It also didn’t feature April, which is why it doesn’t factor here.
If this fall into semi-obscurity had one benefit, is that it allowed Peter Laird, now older, more media-savvy, and completely in charge of the turtles, to have a greater say in what his characters should look and act like. In 2001, the turtles returned in a very low-profile way, as Mirage Studios released the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ fourth volume, with Laird as writer and Jim Lawson as artist. Ignoring the stories told in the Image run, he moved the action forward more than a decade, showing the turtles as adults. It would be the only regular turtles fans would get until 2002, when a company called 4Kids entered the scene.
Note: If you can help fill in the gaps in the data–the artist for the Palladium April image (which I think may have been by the Paulo Parentes Studio) and the year for the CGI pilot, for example–it’d be much appreciated.
The year 1992 marked the end of the Mirage TMNT‘s guest creator era: after three years of mostly non-canonical stories by a bevy of creators, Mirage staffers once again took reins of the book, with a new focus on featuring a more stable tone and in moving their characters forward. This latest phase in the book culminated with “City at War”, a thirteen-part mega arc which featured the return of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird to active creative duties and ended on the book’s last issue. It also gave April some much-needed focus, as the writers had her decide to move to California in order to recenter herself.
Perhaps not coincidentally, this era of greater focus on April also saw the beginning of the end of depictions of her based on her issue #4 redesign, as the physical features she had sported since then–by no means limited to skin color–began disappearing. What one may draw from this is unclear, and the fact that there’s only one artist drawing the character for the duration of the era doesn’t help.
The years from 1993 to 1996 saw waning interest in the Ninja Turtles. The third film received a tepid reception. Mirage’s second volume of TMNT, which debuted shortly after the end of the first one,would prove short-lived, its final issue hitting stores on October 1995. The Archie series, TMNT Adventures, ended that same year. After seven seasons of sausage-making, Fred Wolf retooled the original cartoon for its eighth season in order to deal with a shifting children’s television landscape; old characters were written out, new characters were written in, and the series’ aesthetic got a face lift, but none of these changes were enough to stop the series from ending, after ten seasons and 193 episodes, in 1996. By January 1997, the flow new material featuring the TMNT had slowed down to a trickle, and existed mostly in the form of a comic series published by Image, continuing the adventures of the Mirage versions of the characters…but that’s something for another entry.
Note the first: While I’ve tried to be comprehensive as possible here, any help obtaining any relevant images I might have missed is much appreciated.
Note the second: Despite not having much in the way of comments, I still plan on moderating any discussion with a heavy hand, should it become necessary.
The year 1987 brought us our second ever incarnation of April, one that, while visually faithful to the character as originally depicted, was at odds with what had become the norm. As the new franchise’s popularity continued to expand, two more new incarnations were introduced: April as seen in the films, who like most things in the movie was conceived as an amalgam of her comic book and cartoon incarnations; and April as seen in the Archie comic books, who was ostensibly the cartoon version, but like most things in the book quickly became her own distinct character. While the people over at Mirage were still depicting their version of the character as a Woman of Color, by 1990, it was White April who had become the norm.
Note the first: While I’ve tried to be comprehensive as possible here, I have not been able to obtain several relevant images, most notably, images of film adaptations after the first one, and of the colored reprints of the Mirage books released during this time period. Any assistance in obtaining them is appreciated.
Note the second: Unlike the first time around, I will be allowing comments here. That said, as always, please keep common courtesy in mind, and note that I will moderate with a heavy hand, should it become necessary.
ETA: I*just* realized that I hadn’t actually enabled comments. Fixed.
[Content Note: Ableism, ableist slurs, hostility to consent]
With Nick’s TMNT long since having crossed the line from being “occasionally problematic” to “actively immoral and loving it”, I haven’t felt the need to try and dissect the series in any great detail recently. The problems are the same as they’ve ever been, they’ve been discussed, and there’s really nothing new to say about them.
And then came the April Clone.
In the episode “The Kraang Conspiracy”, the turtles and April discover that series baddie The Kraang, who need April (or more specifically, her genes–because why else would a girl be valuable?) in order to further their plans, have attempted to clone her many times over. While incapable of furthering their plans, these clones are, with one exception, still perfect reproductions of April…all except for one. That single clone, which the episode and Michelangelo eventually end up calling April Derp after the most frequent word in her vocabulary, is set against the turtles, whom she keeps on the ropes until she is eventually, and accidentally, killed by April, whose powers are unleashed by the stress of the situation.