While the idea of a fifth addition to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been met with controversy since its inception, Jennika has proven to be an undeniably fantastic new recruit whose origin is strangely linked to that of the Ninja Turtles in that it is the complete opposite–in fact, it’s perfectly opposite.
Mirage Studios’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird is not only the very first appearance of the Ninja Turtles, but it is also a comic detailing their origin. Before the brightly colored masks, pizza obsession, and overall kid-friendly tone, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a dark and gritty clan of ninja assassins who were trained by Master Splinter to do one thing: kill Shredder. By the end of the issue, the four mutant turtles gang up on Shredder and brutally murder him–kicking off their hugely popular franchise in the bloodiest way possible.
In IDW Publishing’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #52 by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, and Ken Garing, Splinter has assumed command over the Foot Clan after killing the Shredder–and not all the Foot ninjas are happy about it. One in particular even tries to assassinate Splinter by attacking the martial arts master when he least expects it, leading to an epic one-on-one battle. That Foot ninja’s name was Jennika.
Jennika’s Origin is a Dark Reflection of the TMNT
Just as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles killed Shredder on Splinter’s behalf in their first issue, so, too, did Jennika try to kill Splinter on Shredder’s behalf–though there were some key differences. Firstly, Jennika was alone rather than in a group, making her attack on Splinter completely dissimilar to the Turtles’ attack on Shredder. Not only that, but Jennika–while she would become a mutant–was a human attacking a mutant foe, rather than a mutant fighting a human foe. However, the biggest difference is also the most obvious: Jennika failed to kill Splinter where the TMNT successfully murdered Shredder.
The nonidentical nature of these two separate debuts is clear on every front, and while the most obvious of them is the fact that Jennika wasn’t able to kill Splinter, the thing that ultimately makes Jennika’s story even worth comparing to that of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the first place is what happened next: Splinter converted her. After Jennika tried–and failed–to kill Splinter, the new Foot Clan leader won her over and made Jennika one of his most loyal followers. The Ninja Turtles would never abandon Splinter for Shredder, even if they weren’t able to kill him. So, while Jennika is now a full-fledged member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, her origin flipped that of the original crew in every conceivable way.