TMNT Universe was one of 2016's best new titles, but really, that shouldn't have been a surprise. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles books have been consistently amazing since their relaunch five years ago, with the biggest problem being the huge amount of great characters and stories and not enough room to tell them -- until the launch of a series designed to put the spotlight onto a few other sections of their universe, anyway.

Now, as TMNT Universe enters its second arc, Chris Mowry, Michael Dialynas, Tomi Varga and Shawn Lee are set to revive the alligator from the New York sewers, Leatherhead. I spoke to Mowry to find out a little more about his new take on the character and get a preview of the next issue.

ComicsAlliance: With so many characters in the TMNT universe to choose from, how do you narrow down who you want to work with?

Chris Mowry: This particular situation was a case where there are some big plans for the ongoing, and a few loose threads that could be tied up with an issue like this. Actually, it’s the great thing about TMNT Universe in that these are supporting stories to the ongoing. So with the fantastic job that Tom, Kevin, et al are doing on that series, it was a matter of “What characters are off-limits and who do you think could benefit from this issue?” Working with the series editor, Bobby Curnow, he told me that Leatherhead was available. Being a fan of Leatherhead (and Leatherface for that matter) and a huge fan of Godzilla, I was over the moon to be able to write something with a giant, mutated reptile again.

CA: How did you settle on Leatherhead being smart enough to carve a conspiracy board into a sewer wall with his claws?

CM: Leatherhead was someone that they had plans for in New York City, but really not sure how to reintroduce him back into the city yet (after his long imprisonment on Burnow Island). So using this issue as that reintroduction, we all felt that it was time for him to come back. And in his true fashion, he’s got some ulterior motives for what he’s doing. But rather than make him a monster who hates himself, I wanted to show a bit of his love for the natural world and that’s why I wanted to set the scene up around an illegal dog fight (something I detest). It’s through that situation where he meets Old Hob, Hun, and realizes that there’s a lot more going on in NYC than just the Turtles. So that scene at the end is him keeping notes… because he’s smart, lethal, and quite possibly has plans of his own.

CA: That conspiracy board really stuck out to me, because you're working with characters --- Old Hob and Hun --- who have some of the most complicated webs of relationships in the TMNT franchise. How do you approach them and add to those relationships?

CM: Bobby and Tom were very helpful in setting a tone for where Hob and Hun are currently in the world. They’ve had a falling out and while Hob continues to run the Mutanimals, a group that has become a bit splintered with the loss of Slash, Hun is trying to get his own thing going. Of course, Hob hearing about this doesn’t sit well at all, and when Hob sets out to make sure Hun pays for his actions, there’s Leatherhead to deal with, too.

So as far as adding to the relationships between Hob and Hun, I wanted to address their falling out, but also touching upon why they both have their individual feelings. Hun was tired of getting kicked around by mutants, Hob is basically watching his Mutanimal “family” falling apart with Slash pretty much abandoning him. And as you recall, that feeling of abandonment has always been a demon Hob’s dealt with his whole life, so it’s hitting him quite hard during the holiday season.

Then you have Leatherhead with his own issues, so with all of these characters just dealing with their own personal struggles, it makes for a somewhat depressing (but hopefully enjoyable) story. But I had a blast working on this and would love to do another one again.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #5 is out on Wednesday, and you can check out our exclusive preview below.

 

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