What immediately comes to mind when you think of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Is it brightly colored masks? The word: “Cowabunga”? Pizza? Vanilla Ice? (Don’t lie. It’s Vanilla Ice, isn’t it?) Well, I’m almost positive that it isn’t their titanic clash with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! Think I’m lying about that last one? Has your friendly, neighborhood Symbifan ever lied to you before? I guess seeing is believing. Prepare thyselves, Unspokenites! It’s about to get Biblical up in here…..
Our story unfolds as the Turtles, Splinter, and Ninjara enter the Earth’s atmosphere, returning home from yet another interstellar adventure. They sit within the moist, dark confines of Cudley the Cowlick’s large, bovine mouth. (A humongous, detached cow head that carries beings inside his mouth in order to transport them to the furthest reaches of space! My question is, who was smokin’ what when this character was imagined?) While on Earth, the Mutanimals lie defeated, victims of heavy lazer gunfire, fired from mechanized skeleton weaponry! Only Leatherhead and the changeling, Azazel, still stand to defend the others’ fallen forms! Leatherhead fires blast after blast from his own lazer rifle until the weapon runs out of ammo! Never one to surrender or flee from a fight, the aligator-man begins to fight with his bare hands! Azazel joins him but the two soon find themselves outnumbered! Leatherhead orders Azazel to transform and take flight to get help. Reluctantly, she shapeshifts into a bird and takes to the skies. Leatherhead then falls.
Atop a nearby hilltop, a well-dressed, bald man with small horns takes a long puff on his cigar. Laughing, he approaches the defeated Mutanimals. The robotic skeletons give him a wide berth. He is known only as Null, and he is the personification of all that is evil. (Well, maybe he’d lighten up if he had a baby kitten. Do these hero types ever stop to consider something as simple as that? Like, maybe the Joker wouldn’t be quite so demented if he had a cute puppy to take care of.) Null orders his skeletal warriors to take the unconscious Mutanimals into custody. This is interrupted, however, by the timely appearance of the Ninja Turtles! Raphael orders Null to freeze right where he is and to release his friends. This demand is met with Null pulling a lazer rifle of his own and opening fire! His minions follow suit without delay! The Turtles waste no time in throwing themselves into close combat against their enemy! The fight has truly begun now!
The combined attack of the Turtles, Splinter, and Ninjara does cut down the number of robotic skeletons, but they still run the risk of being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. A blast from Null is deflected by Leonardo’s blades. This stray shot wings one of the fallen Mutanimals, Man-Ray! Man-Ray springs to life and uses his muscular, aquatic body to help in the fight! His aid helps but not enough! But just as the battle seems lost, a barrage of lazer fire hits the skeletal warriors from the high ground! The enemy falls at last! The heroes look up to discover that the other Mutanimals are in fact their saviors! (Today’s lesson, kiddies? Never bring ninja weapons to a lazer gun fight! I now return you to your regularly scheduled article, already in progress.) But before the heroes can celebrate their victory, they see that not only is Null gone, but so is Azazel!
Null enters a secret door in the rocky terrain, far from the fighting, a beaten and unconscious Azazel thrown over his shoulder. Closing the door behind him, he enters the darkness of the cave. Null makes his way easily through the darkness until he comes face to face with a grinning skull, illuminated by torchlight. It appears that this skull is attached to a full, bone body and covered by a dark, hooded cloak. In its skeletal hands, it grips a long scythe! It is in fact Death himself! The Reaper asks Null for a report. The horned man replies that the heroes were too much for his army and that it’s up to Death and the others now. Three more sets of eyes appear in the darkness behind the Grim Reaper. The beings are ready. In fact, they seem almost excited to reveal themselves. (There you have it. Null went all out for recruiting frightening allies in this one! Are even the combined forces of the Ninja Turtles and Mighty Mutanimals enough to stop these villains? They’ll be fine. After all, the Turtles “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. Ha! I totally worked in a song title!)
It’s about this time that the two heroic groups discover that Cudley and Azazel are missing. Leonardo asks Man-Ray just what the situation here was. He replies that he and the other Mutanimals were searching for Jagwar’s missing human mother, Juntarra, when they discovered she was being held by a creature resembling the Grim Reaper. They located his stronghold, but were attacked by an army of skeleton robots when they approached. Jagwar adds that Azazel also told them that this barren land they stand upon was a tropical rainforest before this Reaper set up operations here! (Yeah. Let’s worry about the rainforests when you’re human mother is being held captive by Death himself! What’s that? How did a human woman give birth to a humanoid jaguar? Umm. Moving on…..) Just then, Ninjara picks up the scent of smoke. The group turns to see a nearby forest in flames! They rush to investigate.
Shock would be an understatement for what the heroes feel when they witness what’s causing the mayhem. An entire village of people is setting the forests ablaze by the use of torches. But the most shocking part is that the people are zombies! The slow-moving undead stand no chance against the combined might of the Ninja Turtles and Mighty Mutanimals! They dispatch the zombified villagers quickly. (I’m not kidding here at all. They didn’t even see if these poor people could maybe be healed! They just slashed them to pieces! Talk about bloodthirsty! The most appalling part to me is that they didn’t really show the gore in the comic. You just have to use your imagination. What? So I love slasher flicks. Sue me.) But before they can take a breath, they notice three figures approaching them through the inferno. Three of the Four Horsemen have arrived!
To be continued.
This article is dedicated to my brother, Eric James Miller. Though he never got into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as much as I did, it was our love for all things supernatural that bonded us for life. And what could be more supernatural than the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I ask you? (Plus, he’s tolerated me spouting off Ninja Turtle trivia long enough to at least deserve an article dedicated to him.) Love ya, bro!