The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are Falling Apart

From the very beginning of their comic book career, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been largely defined by their relationships with one another. Although the Heroes in a Half Shell don’t always get along, their close familial bond has been at the heart of numerous storylines over the years. This makes it that much more difficult to watch the Splinter Clan start falling apart, even if it is probably the best thing that has happened to them in a very long time.

With the young weasel mutant Mushroom missing, the eponymous heroes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #142 (by Kevin Eastman, Sophie Campbell, Gavin Smith, Ronda Pattison, and Shawn Lee) chase down any lead they can in an effort to rescue her. However, Donatello remains behind, completely consumed by his research into the mystical sciences that have altered the Turtles’ lives over the past few months. When an argument between the Splinter Clan turns violent, each of the Turtles are forced to confront the fact that things at home have devolved since the end of the Rat King’s nearly disastrous Armageddon Game, though none more so than Michelangelo.

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are Coming Unraveled

the teenage mutant ninja turtles devolving into a fistfight in Donnie's lab in their sewer lair

The others may not say it outright, but Mikey isn’t afraid to note the ways that things have changed in the past few months. Apart from the various threats that pushed them to their limits as individuals, Michelangelo directly points toward their mystical training and shared experiences wielding the power of Radiant Gravity as a key moment in their recent history. While this concept and practice brought them closer than ever in their war against the Rat King, the experience showed each member of the Splinter Clan a different path for their future in which none of them were still together.

These visions alone may not have been enough to push the Turtles apart, but it has become clear in recent months that their time together may be quickly coming to an end. Whether it be the kind of interpersonal issues that have driven Alopex away from the Splinter Clan or disparate opinions on what their most pressing concern is, the rifts between individual members of the team have grown too wide to ignore. Thankfully, spending time away from one another isn’t necessarily an indication that the Turtles will be falling apart entirely, but rather that they will be given opportunities to come into their own without each other’s influence pushing them in any direction besides those they take themselves.

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How Falling Apart Could Affect the Splinter Clan

michelangelo reflecting on the turtles' battle with the rat king and their experiences with magic

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #139 (by Eastman, Tom Waltz, Campbell, Fero Pe, Pattison, and Lee) the Heroes in a Half Shell were given glimpses into their respective futures. Although some (like Leonardo and Michelangelo) were bound for greatness in their own ways, Jennika, Raphael, and Donatello weren’t given such an optimistic view of what would be in store for them. As bad as these futures might have looked for some, the Turtles have seen proof of themselves altering things to come previously, meaning that there is no reason they couldn’t do the same again.

If anything, the visions that the Turtles saw were merely possibilities, albeit more likely ones than some of the more outlandish potential timelines seen previously in the franchise. As much as they might fear what could come of these visions, the truth is that the Turtles are in control of their lives, at least more so than they have been made to believe over the past few months. Facing off against literal gods might not put them in a position where they feel like they have that control, but coming to terms with what they could control was key to their victory against the Rat King. As such, the Turtles should all know that no matter what comes next they will surely emerge from it stronger than ever – even if they have to do so separately.

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Breaking May be the Best Thing for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

bob reminding leonardo that family is both chosen and something that can change over time

Despite the heartache and tension this potential breakup has caused, it also opens the door for each member of the Splinter Clan to define themselves outside the group, not just as heroes, but as individuals. So far, each Turtle is still largely defined by the archetypes they were given nearly forty years ago. Just as Leonardo is still the ever stoic leader, Donatello is still the Turtles’ resident inventor, and so on. In fact, if there is any member of the Splinter Clan who has broken that mold, it is Michelangelo, who has long since shed his overt persona as the party dude and developed a more contemplative side that in turn fuels his efforts to bring people together.

By breaking up and going their own ways, the other Turtles could similarly develop deeper, more nuanced personalities of their own. This isn’t to say that they aren’t fully fleshed out characters as is, but that they are still tied to the trappings expected from them. And, as much of a boon as that might be for the series in terms of making the cast easily recognizable, it does a disservice to the characters themselves. The Turtles are long overdue for a chance to come out of their shells so to speak, especially in light of all that they have recently endured. Assuming they do embark on their own respective journeys, they might even find entirely new avenues that they want to explore beyond those that are at this point stereotypical of each Turtle, and that could only lead to bigger and better things than they could ever experience together.

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