Burnham Dissects Classic Villain in "TMNT: Baxter Stockman"

This May, Erik Burnham dissects everyone's favorite mad scientist, Baxter Stockman, in IDW Publishing's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Micro-series #2: Baxter Stockman" with art by Andy Kuhn. "Baxter Stockman" is the second in the "TMNT Villain Micro-series," following April's issue #1 by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson that spotlighted evil extra-dimensional dictator Krang.

In IDW's ongoing "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series, co-written by Tom Waltz and "TMNT" co-creator Kevin Eastman, Baxter Stockman serves as the head of StockGen, the research facility where the turtles and Splinter were re-born as mutants after coming into contact with mysterious ooze.

Burnham, who is also scripting IDW's "TMNT: The Secret History of the Foot Clan," spoke with Comic Book Resources about "TMNT: Baxter Stockman," explaining where the book sits in the IDW timeline, Baxter Stockman's true motivations and shared details about his upcoming Free Comic Book Day story set in the Nickelodeon animated series continuity.

CBR News: Erik, what's going down in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Micro-series #2: Baxter Stockman?"

Cover by Tyler Walpole

Erik Burnham: Baxter has a problem: he's overseeing the day-to-day construction of the Technodrome. When it's complete, Krang is going to use it to terraform the Earth into something more to his liking -- Baxter's got no issue with conquering the Earth (especially if he's on the winning team) but he's not interested in seeing it made unfit for humanity, either. That puts Baxter between a rock and a hard place. If he stumbles too much carrying out Krang's orders, he becomes disposable. If he's too competent, he finishes the project, and the world is wrecked (and, again, he becomes disposable.) How can Baxter get out of this situation, knowing what he knows? That's where we start.

Baxter Stockman is in many ways more of a businessman than a scientist in the IDW "TMNT" series, with Dr. Allen seeming to fill the 'scientist' role Stockman had in the '80s animated series and films. How do you view Baxter Stockman? Businessman or scientist?

I view Baxter as a genius with one goal in life: to be number one. Krang has certainly changed what that means in his eyes, I think, but not the goal itself.

Baxter's talent with both science and business are byproducts of his mind working to meet his "be number one" goal, not unlike, I suppose, the off-and-on portrayal of DC Comics' Lex Luthor. If I have to go with one of the two, though, I go with scientist. He's too linked in my mind to the creation of the Mousers to be anything less!

If Baxter Stockman is like Lex Luthor, who would you compare Krang to?

If that wasn't a wide open call for a Brainiac joke...

Does "Baxter Stockman" take place before or after the events of "Krang War," the storyline currently running in the main "TMNT" book?

When I started writing it I wasn't sure where it would fit in -- but as of the most recent draft, it is for sure taking place after the Krang War.

If this takes place after "Krang War," how is Baxter's status quo changed from that storyline?

The micro takes place on Burnow Island, with only the loosest of connections to the events of "Krang War" shown. Baxter's status quo does change, but it's a quiet change. He learns some things at the end of the issue that will affect his plans going forward.

Baxter Stockman used to be all about money, but now that he's been kidnapped by an extra-dimensional warlord, he must have had to do just a teensy tiny bit of soul searching. What's Stockman's motivation at this point?
I think Baxter was more about power than money. Money can get you power, and so can allying yourself with an extra-dimensional warlord -- so any soul searching ends with "Krang is trying to wreck my planet, and I won't accept that."

Baxter's not a hero, but he's not going to stand for someone taking something from him on such a large scale.

So Baxter's primary motivation is still power, but now, and for the foreseeable future, he's looking specifically for the power to keep Krang from changing the planet.

Could this be setting Baxter up for a turn as a good guy? If he is forced to save the world from Krang, even if it's for selfish reasons, it'd be hard for the Turtles not to think differently about the man.

I don't know; if he's working to preserve his own interests, ones that just happen to coincide with what would be considered right, that probably isn't enough to shake the needle for the TMNT. Baxter would have to do something that had a benefit for more than just himself for that to happen.

How long until we see Stockman start turning in to a fly, like in the classic '80s animated series?

I can't speak for Tom & Kevin's long term plans, but there are no transformations here. (If that counts as a spoiler, ladies and gents, I apologize!)

Are there any "TMNT" villains that haven't made an appearance in the IDW universe yet that you'd like to see brought back?

I'm just happy Slash made it in -- but honestly, everyone I've been itching to see has either shown up or has been hinted at. A proper, mutated Bebop & Rocksteady would be kind of fun to see as well. (I know some "TMNT" fans dismiss them because they were comic relief on the cartoon, but an angry rhino-man charging full tilt at the turtles is just a great image.)

Now you've written for two of IDW's main franchises: "Ghostbusters" and "TMNT." When will fans get to see you try your hand at either "G.I. Joe" or "Transformers" comics?

There's nothing in the near future, but those are some fun properties. If the chance ever came up, I'm sure I'd have a blast.

Do you have any plans for any creator-owned series in the future?

One day, I'd love to answer, "Yes, and here's when you'll see them!" But right now, the plans are all still just plans, rattling around in my brain, waiting to be let out.

What's going on in your ongoing "Ghostbusters" series at the moment?
As I type this, I just turned in the wrap up for the first arc, the New Ghostbusters -- currently writing the next arc which'll feature Egon trying to keep a ghost from abducting Janine's soul, and Kylie hunting a ghost ship with Peter and Ray, amongst other things.

You're also doing a story for Free Comic Book Day that is set in the "TMNT" animated continuity. What's that all about and which one of the many "TMNT" animated series is it set during?

This one is set squarely in the world of the new Nickelodeon cartoon, and was a load of fun to write. A lot heavier on the comedy than the other "TMNT" stuff I've written, and, coincidentally, the featured villain in this issue is also Baxter Stockman. It was a little weird jumping from "goofy Baxter" in this to "serious Baxter" in the micro, and thankfully Bobby [Curnow, the book's editor] didn't catch me mixing up their voices in any of the drafts I turned in. Boy, that might have stuck out some! Like I said, this comic was enormously fun to write, and I really hope everyone gives it a try this Free Comic Book Day!

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Micro-series #2: Baxter Stockman" by writer Erik Burnham and artist Andy Kuhn is out this May from IDW Publishing.

Tags: teenage mutant ninja turtles, idw publishing, andy kuhn, tmnt, erik burnham, teenage mutant ninja turtles villains micro-series, baxter stockman, tyler walpole

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