Greetings and salutations, loyal readers! Once again it is I, your sexy but humble Symbifan, returned to grant the wishes of my amazing fans (You two know who you are!) with yet another of my musings about the fun-filled 90’s! (I mean the comics and wrestling, of course. The music? Nah. I’m good.) So, sit back and relax as we journey back to 1991 and the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Archie Comics! More specifically the beginning of the Mighty Mutanimals!
Our story begins on a seemingly ordinary beach where three far-from-ordinary humanoid animals, Dreadmon, Jaguar, and Manray, look on in astonishment at a meteor that crashes into the sands near them! They have little time to react as the meteor cracks open like a giant egg, spewing forth tons of strange caterpillar-like creatures! (Great start, huh? Imagine that on your McMuffin! That reminds me, I haven’t eaten breakfast…..)
We then shift our attention to deep space where the insectoid, Queen Maligna, calls for her prisoners, Stump and Sling, the plant-like alien owners of Stump Intergalactic Wrestling! (Don’t feel bad if you don’t know them. The prices for their network are outrageous! So hard to compete with the WWE these days.) Both are sentenced to be burned alive for interfering in her recent attempt to conquer the planet Earth! As they are dragged away, the guards are suddenly attacked by Leatherhead, a mutant crocodile from Earth, and Wingnut and Screwloose, the alien bat and mosquito duo from the world of Dexion V!
As Leatherhead makes short work of Maligna’s forces, Wingnut swoops down and grabs both Stump and Sling! They all then flee into the waiting mouth of Cudley the Cowlick, chosen transport for Stump Arena! (Yeah. I know. Who travels via a giant cow head’s mouth? As you giggle, might I remind you that Wonder Woman used to fly around in a see-through jet? Ponder that as I continue.) The giant bovine mouth closes and off they go, into the safety of space.
Back on Earth, the beaten and bound forms of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Master Splinter, April O’Neil, and Mondo Gecko are still trying to shake the cobwebs away from their recent defeat. The two insectoid bruisers guilty of this attack, Scul and Bean, are still in the room. Both are what you might consider emissaries of Queen Maligna’s hive/empire, on loan to a horned human named Null. Null recently helped Queen Maligna prepare for her upcoming invasion of Earth. (That just goes to show ya, never trust a horny guy! Uh….wait….) The three villains join one of their beaten comrades, a human called Kid Terra. After complaining about Terra’s loss and threatening their captives a bit, they all leave the Turtles to their own devices. Big mistake because Master Splinter has a plan of escape! (Go ninja! Go ninja! Go ninja! Go! Sorry. I just had a Vanilla Ice flashback.)
Meanwhile, safely on Stump Asteroid, Leatherhead and the other heroes discuss Maligna’s plans for Earth and decide to intervene. The only problem is how to reach Earth before the invasion begins. Luckily, Cudley offers his services for transport and away they go! Later, far out in open space, Cudley suddenly comes under heavy fire from enemy vessels! Unable to defend himself, the Cowlick and his passengers are shot down!
Back on Earth, our mutated heroes look on as the alien caterpillars not only devour the corpses of their stillborn dead, but begin to eat their way through the very rain forest! As a protector of Mother Earth, Jaguar will not stand for this! (That, and Archie Comics were big into environmentalism in the 90’s. Hence being printed on recycled paper. Go Captain Planet!) Enraged, Jaguar roars out in outrage! This, unfortunately, brings our heroes to the attention of the space insects! They begin to advance on their new prey!
Back to the Turtles. Master Splinter’s plan has come to fruition. Dozens of rats have answered his mental summons and gnaw through their bonds, freeing them instantly! Finding their weapons nearby, they arm themselves in the knick of time, as the villains return! The battle begins immediately as the two insectoid muscle-men smash into the room and attack! As the Turtles and Scul and Bean throw down with the Ninja Turtles, Null takes this time to belittle his human henchman, Kid Terra, on leaving the Turtles’ weapons so close. (Bosses! Am I right, kids?)
The heroes soon gain the upper hand and, in desperation, the one known as Bean releases a rock from the top of his head, straight upwards! It explodes, leaving a thick gas, allowing the villains to escape in their spacecraft! As the smoke clears, Raphael and Mondo Gecko are found to be missing! They have stowed away upon the enemy craft!
Back in the rainforest, the heroic trio is trying desperately to come up with their collective hides from the worm onslaught when….It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a giant cow head from space! That’s right! Cudley crashes down right next to them! Holy cow! (Sorry. I had to.)
Our next installment on the formation of the Mighty Mutanimals begins with one of Queen Maligna’s insect soldiers/children cautiously approaching her with a mission report. He shares this via the hive mind they are connected through. Suddenly, after reading his thoughts, she exclaims with glee how pleased she is that her children have shot down poor Cudley the Cowlick. To reward her child for this wonderful news, she offers him a kiss. (I know! I can hear banjos playing too!) She leans forward toward the warrior’s neck and feeds! He drops dead soon after.
Back on Earth, Manray, Jaguar, and Dreadmon examine the enormous downed Cowlick with fascination and awe. As they do so, the recent passengers of said living vessel take the trio’s interest in their friend as hostile. (I smell a hero versus hero fight coming on!) It doesn’t take long before Leatherhead, Wingnut, and Screwloose come to his “rescue” with some hostility of their own! (Ha! Told you!)
The fight goes back and forth for quite awhile with neither side surrendering or gaining much ground until, sick of this mindless violence and suddenly aware of a more pressing threat, Cudley yells at all of them to halt and look. What they see chills them all to the very bone. The alien caterpillars have entered their cocoon stage!
Meanwhile, the man known only as Null sits in a spacecraft with Scul, Bean, and Kid Terra. He speaks to them about how his plans for expanding his company universally are all going according to plan. The two aliens remind him that as long as he keeps his word about assisting their queen loyally, their partnership will work out just fine. As the three continue their talk, Kid Terra spies something out of the corner of his eye. A skateboard? He secretly goes to investigate and discovers the two heroic stowaways, Raphael and Mondo Gecko! Surprisingly, he hands the skateboard back and motions for them to remain silent and well hidden. Just then, the ship arrives at it’s destination, the Hive World! Docking, they leave the ship behind and head off to greet Queen Maligna!
The two mutants emerge and take in their strange surroundings. Amazed, they see for the first time the severity of their situation. Wandering around the hive they happen upon some soldiers. Overpowering them quickly, they drag the unconscious aliens into a secluded room. It’s then that they discover the discarded exoskeletons of deceased insectoid soldiers! Suddenly struck with brilliance, they hastily fit the empty shells over their own reptilian skin to better blend in. (I know. Its pretty nasty. But how do you think cows feel when we pass by wearing leather? Jealous! That’s how they feel! Where was I? Oh yeah….) This works for only a short time however as their scents are picked up! They fight off more soldiers and drag them away. Yes, all is going exceedingly well. That is until they back quite literally into the evil queen herself!
We leave this horrific scene to return once again to another scene of terror, but this time within a rain forest on Earth. The mutated heroes examine the newly discovered alien cocoons. Their is much debate between Wingnut and Screwloose and the others on what to do with this discovery. Wingnut recommends burning them all alive while they slumber. Screwloose of course seconds this. The other heroes strongly argue that that would be murder. Words are spoken in anger and the duo fly away, angered at being outvoted.
Later, Manray, Dreadmon, and Jaguar do set a fire. But it is simply to warm themselves and get better acquainted. Origin stories are told. As it turns out, two of them aren’t even mutants in the traditional sense. Jaguar is the offspring of a jaguar god and a human female (Ewww! Well…I suppose if the jaguar god has a good personality….) and Dreadmon became what he is by stealing the totem of the Tasmanian wolf as a youth. Their bonding is interrupted, though, as the humanoid bat and mosquito return to the campsite! Wingnut shouts a warning and they all turn to see the alien soldiers tearing themselves from their cocoons!
Back to the Hive World, where Raphael and Mondo Gecko are locked in mortal combat with the evil Queen Maligna! To their credit, the two get their licks in but in the end, the insect queen proves to be too much for them! Defeated, she orders her henchmen to take them to a cell and begin fattening them up, since they will need meat for the coming celebration. The Earth is in view! And now for the final installment of the Mighty Mutanimals miniseries! (Say that ten times fast! I dare ya!)
When we last left our heroes, Raphael and Mondo Gecko had been defeated in combat by Queen Maligna and Manray, Jaguar, Dreadmon, Wingnut, and Screwloose and were being advanced upon by her insectoid army on Earth. No. Things didn’t look too good for the Turtles and their friends! As the troops advance ever closer, the heroes charge into battle! It’s during this that Screwloose lets loose important information about the enemy. If they’re not stopped, they won’t conquer the planet by usual means. They’ll terraform the Earth to suit their own needs while killing all life on it through the destruction of the ozone layer! They will actually kill the Earth! (Whoa! Talk about an evil empire! But that aside, Screwloose waited until issue 3 of a 3-part miniseries to decide and share this bit of info with his comrades?! It’s getting so you can’t even trust an alien humanoid mosquito these days! I blame junk food and the MTV.)
Back on Maligna’s mothership, poor Raphael and Mondo Gecko awaken to something almost as sinister, they’re being coated in and force fed honey to make them better celebratory meals! (Hey! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. That’s what Mama Symbifan always said.) That, and the mother ship has finally entered Earth’s atmosphere!
On the ground, the heroes make short work of their alien opponents as they battle side by side! As if they were truly meant for this, meant to be a team. Every time a villain is defeated, Cudley scoops them up and transports them far away in another dimension. Soon, the battle is over. The heroes are triumphant! Or are they…..? (Insert sinister music here, ended with a drum roll!) The mothership hovers directly above them! (Oh, it’s on now!)
The aliens waste little time! Sensing that her ground forces have all been defeated, Queen Maligna angrily calls for the all-out invasion to begin! While the warriors attack the rain forest inhabitants from above, the two generals, Scul and Bean, attack the heroes on the ground.
Meanwhile, Raphael and Mondo attempt to free themselves from what they now assume to be drugged honey. (I’m reminded of KFC and their biscuits here. Ever noticed how addictive they are? Ponder that for awhile.) They try and try to break free but to no avail until, from seemingly nowhere, shots ring out killing their guards! Kid Terra enters the room, smoking guns in both hands! He frees them and helps them to clean off the sticky substance.
On the ground, Scul orders his brother, Bean, to launch an explosive rock from his head to end the fight. The inspector monster attempts this but Wingnut is ready. He drops another stone into the open orifice from above, blocking the explosive! The result is an explosion within the head of one of Queen Maligna’s two most trusted soldiers! One down, one to go! But, upon the mothership, the evil queen continues ordering her children telepathically through the hive mind until Kid Terra and the two mutants burst into her chambers! Kid Terra fires a single shot, blasting off one of her antennae! Now, barely able to control her children and with a threat to finish the job, she is forced to call a full retreat!
With their Queen disabled and in custody, the insect army quickly complies. The Earth is safe once again. Later in space, Queen Maligna vows that the heroes of Earth will rue this day. This isn’t over by a long shot. The evil human known as Null disappears to threaten the planet another day. Kid Terra leaves soon after as well. The heroes, now joined by Raphael and Mondo Gecko, set a campfire and relax. They’ve earned it. Raphael would soon rejoin his brothers and the others would band together to form a team of their own. From the chaos of an alien invasion, the Mighty Mutanimals were born!
This article is dedicated to the father of the Unspoken Decade, Dean Compton. He is not only my understanding editor and partner on this site, but a trusted cherished friend. Cheers to the King of 90’s Comics! Much love.