Joe Keatinge and Zack Soto’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Pitch That Never Was
Not too long ago, we here at ComicsAlliance told you about the lost Ross Campbell Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic that, unfortunately for fans of Campbell’s amazing artwork, never happened. But as you might expect with a franchise that an awful lot of people — myself included — grew up loving, Campbell wasn’t the only one with an idea for a new series.
When it was announced that IDW had picked up the rights to the Turtles, writer Joe Keatinge and artist Zack Soto put together a pitch for an updated, “Ultimate”-style version of the heroes in a half shell. Unfortunately for them, it turned out that their competition in landing the series was TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, but through the magic of the Internet, they’ve posted the material they created at their websites so that we can all have a look at what might have been! Check out the Keatinge’s full pitch for 20 issues (!), Soto’s character designs and five scripted sample page roughs after the jump!Soto says that his sketches of the Turtles came “mostly from memory” and that he was “surprised at how ingrained in my psyche these characters were. I hadn’t drawn them since I was a teenager and they just came right back to me, easy-peasy.”
Then again, when you spend a good chunk of your childhood
playing with studying toys 3D reference models, it’s not that much of a stretch to remember all those awesome details.
According to Keatinge, his goal with the series was to create a book that was TMNT the way you remember it, but not necessarily the way it actually was: “A kinda weird, but super bad ass deep take on ninja turtles fighting ninjas that weren’t turtles. Plus Triceratons.”
To that end, his idea takes the Turtles on a whirlwind adventure of violence and destruction that ramps up the plot twists and even goes so far as to have New York City destroyed in a battle of ninjas and aliens:
STORYLINE ONE: “Fifteen Year Plan” Issues #1-5
This storyline would have introduced three aspects:
1) The Turtles and Splinter, of course.
The “Fifteen Year Plan” relates to how Splinter witnessed his master, Hamato Yoshi, be murdered at the hands of Oroku Saki and his “Fifteen Year Plan” to train the turtles to get revenge against him. We see all this in the first issue, “The Death of Hamato Yoshi.”
Oroku Saki was a crime lord in Japan, with Hamato Yoshi as his right hand man, who wanted out. Saki murdered Yoshi’s wife and after a fight, Yoshi himself. He’s now expanding his crime family to America, which is the impetus for Splinter to end the turtle’s training.
3) TCRI. In our version, TCRI is kind of like Apple or Virgin in that they’re a huge multi-national corporation with hands in just about every type of media. They’ve revolutionized the way we live – they sell computers, tablets, mobile phones, cars, etc. Everything they do is top of the line, pushing things to a new frontier. They also have a military division, so as if Steve Jobs owned Haliburton. Their goal is to create military technologies not reliant on human soldiers, so they have two main sub-divisons: genetic and robotic. Baxter Stockman and his assistant, April O’Neil, head that division.
Fifteen Year Plan is basically the slow burn to all these ideas and they don’t even directly fight Shredder until the next storyline, but they do have their first unsuccessful confrontation with the foot. At the same time, TCRI is going to shut down Stockman’s research as he’s gone way over budget. It appears he’s unleashed the mousers (probably called something else, they idea is that they only dismantle non-human elements, tanks, weapons, buildings, etc.) in an effort to prove the proof of concept, but of course, it goes haywire. Turtles are able to shut it down and they start their friendship with O’Neil, who it turns out actually unleashed the mousers, but nobody knows. Stockman takes the fall and since Splinter appears to be dead (but his body is missing) because of something she did, O’Neil feels responsible for the turtles and takes them in.
STORYLINE TWO: “Ronin” Issues #6-10
This is primarily an arc focusing on the Turtles and the Foot, as the guys are thrown in a situation they’ve never been in. They’ve always had Splinter to rely on. They’ve always been bound to the sewers. They’re now living in an odd place with this woman they don’t really know. With their master seemingly dead, they need to finally accomplish what they were trained to do and what his only wish in life ever was: dismantle the Foot and assassinate Saki/Shredder.
So, cut to the chase, they go after Shredder and dismantling the foot and the latter goes relatively well, but once they confront Shredder they get their asses handed to them. He knows how they fight. Almost too well. They’re nearly killed and mortally wounded, but are able to escape.
At the end, we would have found out two things as readers that no one else would have known:
1) TCRI has Splinter and they’re exploiting him for research purposes. Furthermore, that their CEO/Founder is an alien – the same kind as the last run, a robot with a Krang-like dude in his stomach.
2) Shredder is actually Hamato Yoshi, Splinter’s long-thought dead master.
As we find out in issue #10, “The Return of Hamato Yoshi,” Yoshi went after Saki, killed him and took over his identity. The Shredder persona allowed him to do this in plain site, as he was always in disguise and his face never seen. That’s why he knew how the turtles fought. Furthermore, it’s a huge blow to what Splinter has made his life’s goal all this time. I think it also ups the stakes this run a lot. Yes, it’s based off of the original run, but it can go in very different directions.
STORYLINE THREE: “City At War” #11-15
This arc brings together the TCRI and Foot clan aspects. Yoshi wants their resources and their inside man reveals they have Splinter.
While they are experimenting on Splinter, he gets to know one of their other captives, a Triceraton who is planning an escape, which he and Splinter eventually make in issue #14, as the Foot and Turtles descend on TCRI and create the titular “City At War”, a call back to an earlier arc.
It concludes with three major things:
1) New York ends up pretty f**ed up after the “war” between TCRI and the Foot. It’s pretty well devastated.
2) Splinter and Shredder finally confront eachother, fight and Shredder nearly kills him, then tells Splinter to “yield.” He does, as Splinter has figured out what the reader knows (that Shredder is Yoshi) and goes with Shredder, willingly leaving the Ninja Turtles behind as…
3) …we find out the Triceraton wasn’t trying to escape. TCRI has a signal to his people. The aliens who run TCRI have had an intergalactic war going for centuries. The TCRI aliens came to Earth and revolutionized our technology with theirs so we would be ready when the Triceratons finally came, but Earth was so remote they had time. They’re still not ready, but it doesn’t matter. The Triceratons are coming.
STORYLINE FOUR: “Earthbound” #16-20
The Foot and Shredder sit this one out. The New York operation is more or less bust, so Shredder and Splinter head back to Japan. TCRI was pretty messed up after City At War, so it’s solely up to the Turtles to fight off the Triceraton invasion.
I didn’t detail the plot of this one all that much, as it was around this time we found out Eastman was doing the relaunch. That said, I know it ends with TCRI being dismantled, Michelangelo publicly outed, Leonardo teleported to the middle of Eastern Europe, Donatello leaving with surviving TCRI aliens and Raphael becoming a recluse in sewer after being freed as a prisoner of war.
So, there you go.
In addition to the pitch and character designs, Keatinge and Soto also produced five pages of roughs as a sample: