Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the latest incarnation of the Ninja Turtles franchise, will not debut on Nickelodeon until later in 2018. However, images from the new show have been revealed, showing radically different character designs and a peek at the first African-American portrayal of April O’Neil (Kat Graham).
According to a synopsis, the series “follows the band of brothers as they encounter new allies and villains and discover a mystical world they never knew existed beneath the streets of New York City.” Based on the character art, which you can see below, it looks like the mystical world they discover will come in handy. April’s glowing baseball bat looks pretty dangerous.
The images also show just how different this series is going to be. The art style looks unlike any other incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For one, there are some changes to their standard weaponry. Raphael (Omar Benson Miller) has traded his sai for tonfa, Michelangelo (Brandon Mychal Smith) uses a kusari-fundo chain weapon, Leonardo’s (Ben Schwartz) typical sword is traded out for an odachi sword, and Donatello’s (Josh Brener) bo had gotten some high tech upgrades.
Raphael and Michelangelo’s weapons are especially interesting. Those turtles utilized the tonfa and kusari-fundo while training in the comics, before becoming the heroes in a half shell that fans know well. Perhaps, this version of the Ninja Turtles is something of a prequel to the franchise fans know as the turtles discover their personalities.
It would surely help make sense of their roles on the new show. In Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Raphael is the leader of the team, while Leonardo–who normally guides his brothers–is the self-proclaimed cool turtle. Perhaps they have yet to mature into the heroes they eventually become.
The images also include a look at Splinter (Eric Bauza), though no information is given about this take on the turtles’ sensei. Missing from the character art is Baron Draxum, a villain in the series voiced by John Cena. With plenty of time before the series premieres later in the year, though, that is bound to come in due time.