IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series has taken the titular heroes and their half-shells on some wild adventures, playing with established TMNT canon in some fascinating ways. Now, their current story is going include a major shock to the system: the return of a controversial, major figure from the team’s TV past.
io9 can exclusively reveal that the TMNT comic’s current arc — from writer Sophie Campbell, artist Pablo Tunica, colorist Ronda Pattison, and letterer Shawn Lee — will culminate with the return of Venus, the first female member of the team introduced in the 1997 series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.
The Fox Kids series, which ran for just a single season of 26 episodes, was set in the same universe as the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies from the ‘90s, as Raph, Leo, Donnie, and Mikey went up against new foes in the form of the mysterious Dragonlord and his draconic hordes, the Rank. To fight new threats, the team found a surprising new ally in the form of Venus — full name Venus de Milo, of course — a long-lost turtle who had likewise been exposed to the mutagen that transformed the other turtles into heroes, raised in China and taught the shinobi arts.
When The Next Mutation came to an end after just one season, Venus vanished into the ether, seemingly never to be seen again. Other TMNT series and comics have made vague allusions to her existence (even with the wider stipulation that there could never be a female Ninja Turtle again) but Venus was left to linger as a peculiarity. In 2019, Tom Waltz, Ken Garing, and Sophie Campbell created a brand new female turtle named Jennika — with a twist, a human member of the Foot Clan who was mutated into a turtle after receiving a blood transfusion from Leonardo — for the ongoing IDW comic series, who became, and remains, a member of the team in the series. But now, 32 issues after Jennika was introduced, she’s no longer about to be the sole female Turtle on the block.
“I’d been trying to make a Venus comeback happen for a while,” Campbell said in a press release provided to Gizmodo. “I almost can’t believe it’s finally happening!”
“It’s been amazing to watch Sophie Campbell continue our long-running TMNT series with such careful consideration and commitment to the kind of character-driven storylines that have always been the foundation for what makes all things Turtles so beloved and eternal,” editor and former TMNT scribe Tom Waltz, added in the same press release. “And now she’s crafted a clever plan to introduce a character from the past that many thought would never see the light of day again. She’s doing it in fine fashion, continuing the IDW tradition of making the old feel both familiar and refreshing all at once…just in time for our big Armageddon Game event, no less!”
Venus will make her first official debut in next month’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #127, by Campbell, Tunica, Pattison, and Lee. As part of the ongoing arc that has seen the Turtle brothers struggle to keep the peace in Mutant Town — a quarantined section of Manhattan’s East Side populated by the mutated human victims of a mutagenic bomb explosion — the team has been investigating a mysterious surgeon named Dr. Jasper Barlow, a mutant doctor who has been operating a cosmetic surgery lab offering to graft human skin grafts onto willing mutant residents of Mutant Town. As they explore deeper, well… you can see for yourself what they will uncover in Pablo Tunica’s cover for TMNT #127 below, making its debut here on Gizmodo!
Although the current storyline will wrap up in TMNT #130, Venus’ story will continue in the form of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Free Comic Book Day issue, due out May 7 as part of the annual comics celebration, which itself will set the stage for a major event in the ongoing series, the aforementioned Armageddon Game, set to begin later this year. Check out Sophie Campbell’s full cover artwork for the Free Comic Book Day Release below, which sees Venus stalking her fellow Ninja turtles from the shadows.