One of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ most famous villains is back, and they’re about to start playing an extremely dangerous game.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2021, available now from IDW.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have just walked right into another was, as the tension in Mutant Town finally boils over into an all-out street war. And as gunshots ring out in broad daylight, even more dire threats are making their own plays from the shadows, led by the immortal Rat King himself.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2021, by Tom Waltz, Casey Maloney, Maria Keane, Luis Antonio Delgado and Shawn Lee, the Rat King reveals that he’s setting up a new game with some of the Turtles’ greatest villains, including the long-absent alien despot Krang, who is currently in the terrifying body of Leatherhead.
Tired of sowing chaos for fun alongside his immortal brethren, the Rat King is ready to turn his full attention to the Ninja Turtles. After visiting his brothers and sisters in the Pantheon and being assured that their time spent toying with humanity is over, the Rat King turns to a group of the Turtles’ most dangerous villains to kick off the Armageddon Game. While Baxter Stockman and Null are happy to help bring the Turtles down, the once-mighty Krang is even more eager to seize this opportunity if it means finally being able to shed his uncharacteristically scaly hide.
Krang, the would-be overlord of Earth, came to fame as part of a bumbling duo with Shredder in the ’80s TMNT cartoon. However, the Krang of the IDW series has always been far more formidable than his diminutive stature would imply, though even that is most often made up for with some form of a robotic suit of armor. But now, Krang’s current body is less of a science fiction marvel than it is a Cronenbergian horror show.
During 2017’s “Trial of Krang” storyline, the villain was finally brought to answer for his crimes, though his sentencing did not go quite according to plan. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #75 by Tom Waltz and Cory Smith saw Krang’s time on trial come to a brutal end when his life sentence was cut short before it started by the mutant alligator Leatherhead. For over 200 years, Leatherhead had been subjected to Krang’s cruelty as the Utrom’s personal slave, and seeing his tormentor escape justice was unacceptable for the mutant. Before Krang could be carted off to prison, Leatherhead jumped into action and ate Krang.
Of course, that would hardly be the end of Krang as revealed in 2019’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100 by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, and Dave Wachter. As it turns out, the Utrom are parasites. After so much time working his way through Leatherhead’s body, Krang eventually erupted forth from the mutant’s torso with full control over both of their minds and bodies. Now Krang has been given a golden opportunity to return to his former glory, and maybe even rid himself of his current gut-wrenching figure.
It isn’t that Krang needs a new body to be a proper supervillain, but rather an issue of status and comfort assuming the villain’s general disposition hasn’t changed in their time away from the spotlight. While Krang’s return was always inevitable, the general instability of the Turtles’ world and their increased responsibilities make this a particularly inopportune one. However, it won’t be long before Krang shows both of his ugly faces to the Turtles once the Armageddon Game gets underway.
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