WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #95, from Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Ronda Pattison, Bobby Curnow, Shawn Lee and Dave Wachter, on sale now.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are pop culture icons, recognized globally as four brothers. The Turtles in a Half-Shell are: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and last but not least, Raphael. IDW's gone on to revamp the group for modern audiences, with the latest arc portraying Splinter as a more conniving individual, at odds with his sons after he took control of the Foot Clan and became more ruthless.
However, with Karai coming back to claim the League of Assassins to restore them to Shredder's glory days, New York has been plunged into all-out war. This results in Karai stabbing Jennika (Splinter's most recent protege) with a mystical sword, leaving her for dead. With the Turtles struggling to save Jennika's life, though, Issue #95 sees Donatello pull a Hail Mary move that results in an all-new female Ninja Turtle being created.
Now, this isn't the first female to join the brothers' ranks because, in the late '90s, Fox's The Next Mutation saw the rise of Venus, a turtle Splinter left behind by accident when he picked up his four sons in the sewers. She ended up being raised by one of Splinter's close friends, Chung I, in the arts of the mystical shinobi. Just before her master died, he urged her to go to New York and find what would become her new family.
There, she'd unite with Splinter and company against Chung I's enemies, the Dragons from the mystical realm, and help Splinter's crew put them back in their supernatural prison. She wasn't well-received, though, with co-creator Peter Laird eventually expunging her from canon, warning director Kevin Munroe not to even think about including her in the 2007 CGI TMNT film starring Chris Evans.
That said, Jennika's story is way different, as she's a human who became Splinter's main general in the Foot. He helped her hone her anger, basically turning her into the new Leo and someone who even won the heart of Casey Jones. Sadly, in the current "City at War" arc, with Karai unleashing hell to reclaim the Foot, she decided Jennika deserved her blade for betraying the pillars Shredder laid down, and for also becoming subservient to Splinter. Karai's quite cerebral, however, and she goes to great lengths to ensure her legion doesn't allow the Turtles to rush the dying warrior to a hospital where she can be saved.
In a last-ditch effort, April O'Neil recommends a concoction that saved her own dad as a miracle cure, but Metalhead intervenes to make sure the plan's foiled. At this point, it seems like Karai always has the upper-hand, as Metalhead seizes the mutagen the heroes were planning on using. Left with no choice, Donny performs a blood transfusion using Leo, and while it allows Jennika to heal, a side effect is she turns into the latest addition to the Turtle family. The issue ends then and there, leaving us stunned.
It's a shocking twist to her journey of redemption, but it could bring her even closer to Splinter, who does view her as a daughter. Seeing as he's also becoming a tyrant, having his new ninja army killing enemies and whatnot, Jennika's potential softening in attitude might even be enough to bring him back to the light. It's worth noting, though, that any progress the apprentice was making could well be undone by this transformation, as it literally takes her humanity away.
It'll surely leave Jennika wanting revenge, especially if she and Casey can't carry on an inter-species relationship. Either way, as a mutant, Jennika should be an even more effective killer, which means Karai might have inadvertently signed her death warrant when she impaled her. It remains to be seen if Jennika will indeed remain a sister to the Turtles or if this is temporary, but what is abundantly clear is once she's fit, Splinter's latest disciple will be seeking full retribution.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #96 goes on sale July 31.