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The Ninja Turtles Became Power Rangers Long Before Their Official Crossover

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have of history of morphing into their own version of the Power Rangers prior to the official crossover.

Over the course of nearly forty years, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have gone through a myriad of changes. From their initial shift from comic gritty comic book antiheroes to kid-friendly small-screen superstars all the way to the bleak dystopian future of The Last Ronin, it seems as if the Heroes in a Half Shell have done it all. This is even true of going Super Sentai, although not just because of their multiple team-ups with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In fact, the Turtles underwent a similar transformation long before they ever met the Teens with Attitude, even if it wasn’t nearly as memorable.

After the debut of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers two years prior, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise developed a toy line of its own to both embrace and push back against Ranger fever in the form of 1995’s Supermutants. While plenty of Turtles toy lines came and went throughout the early and mid-nineties without further tie-in products, Supermutants was quickly followed by Super Turtles 1: Seinaru Myuta-seki no Nazo (Hidetada Idemitsu) in July of the same year. This manga, published by Dangeki Comics, served to explain the drastic transformations of the toys. It also served as a prequel to two OVAs that carried on that same story despite neither of them being released anywhere close to the action figures that necessitated them.

The Ninja Turtles Were Power Rangers Long Before the Crossover
As far as the story was concerned, the setup began on Neutrino where a pair of fairy spirits named Kris Mu and Dark Mu lived. Upon discovering Kris Mu within a Neutrino temple the Turtles are gifted four MutaStones which allowed them to take on their respective Super Mutant forms for brief periods of time. Similarly, Dark Mu granted a trio of the same stones to Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady in the hopes of winning the day. Ultimately, the villains are defeated by the Turtles’ ultimate power – fusing together to become the Turtle Saint, a winged, sword-wielding figure who in almost no way resembles either of his namesakes.

While it wasn’t totally surprising that tie-in manga and animations were created to help boost sales of the Supermutants toys, nor that the story behind them was so ridiculous on every level, the time between releases was absolutely staggering. Though the time between the release of the toys and the manga was negligible, the time between them and the first OVA, Mutant Turtles: Chōjin Densetsu Hen, was nearly a year. There is certainly something to be said for the amount of time it took to animate such a project in the nineties, but that hardly accounts for the fact that it wasn’t until 1997 that the series’ second and final chapter was released.

The Supermutants Saga Remade the Ninja Turtles in the ’90s
If anything, the history of the Supermutants and the home media marketing campaign that followed is indicative of the decade they were produced in. The over-the-top antics, extreme transformations, and hulking figures all exemplify what franchise properties hinged on for years during the nineties. This was also true of the thinly veiled allusions to other properties and genres by way of themed releases.

Thankfully, the Supermutants saga wasn’t the end of the Turtles’ Super Sentai-esque adventures. Their first team-up with the Power Rangers on the small screen might be one of the most maligned crossovers in television history, but the comics by IDW and BOOM! Studios have righted any and all wrongs done by it. They have even managed to introduce entirely new breeds of Power Ranger, all without involving a single alien fairy spirit or gleaming angelic guardian along the way.

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