The Mighty Mutaniamls – The “Mutant” Team
When Archie Comics set out to make a few extra bucks on a TMNT spinoff comic, no one could have predicted that everyone on the mutant team would die when the book was cancelled. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to the Mighty Mutanimals in 1993. However, just because the lives of those mutants had to end (as well as their time in the comic world), doesn’t mean they don’t stand out as characters worth remembering.
Mondo Gecko’s story started with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, when the lizard fell into the same exact mutagen puddle. While Splinter found the four brothers, a man named Mr. X picked up Mondo. Mr. X was a bank robber that taught the mutated lizard to follow in his footsteps, and Mondo did so without objection until he met Michelangelo. Mikey convinced Mondo Gecko to give up his criminal ways, and together they stopped Mr. X for good. With nowhere to go, Mondo accompanied Mikey to the sewers, and moved in next door to his new friends.
Dreadmon hailed from South Africa, where he lived with his father. However, when revolution took hold in his country, Dreadmon was sent to Jamaica to be with his mother. To get by, the boy was forced to steal. Unfortunately, his sticky fingers got the better of him when he pilfered a magic talisman that turned him into a wolf with super speed. Jagwar, who also came from Africa, was the son of a human woman named Juntarra and the Jaguar Spirit of his homeland. On his own since the age of twelve, Jagwar eventually met the Ninja Turtles, helping them rescue April O’Neil from the lost Tepui mine, before finally joining the Mutanimals team.
Leatherhead began life as a man named Jess Harley living deep in a swamp. While in most versions he is a crocodile that comes into contact with mutagen, the Archie Comics version (and thus, the one that joined the Mighty Mutanimals) was cursed by the witch Mary Bones, who used the Turnstone to make him a gator-man. Shredder later tricks Leatherhead into working for him, but when the mutant discovers Shredder’s villainy, he starts fighting against evil with his other mutant friends.
Wingnut and Screwloose were aliens from the planet Huanu. However, Krang destroyed their home world, and the two were forced to flee to Earth through a dimensional vortex. When they arrived, they searched frantically for Krang, seeking revenge, but found the Ninja Turtles instead. The turtles were able to subdue the pair, and after explaining the situation, Wingnut and Screwloose left Earth to compete in an intergalactic wrestling tournament and find a way to stop Krang. While they were gone, they met up with the other Mutanimals, and formed their new team.
Ray Fillet was once known as Jack Finney, an aquarium worker in New Jersey who showed particular fondness for manta rays. After a chance meeting with the turtles, Finney went to investigate some illegal dumping activity in a local sewer pipe. However, he was trapped in an overflow (that contained mutagen), and carried out to sea, where he was transformed into the Man Ray, Ray Fillet. In his new form, Ray could summon and communicate with marine life, and his desire to save the oceans was even stronger than before.
The most interesting part about the Mighty Mutanimals is that the casual observer would expect them all to be mutants created in similar ways to the Ninja Turtles. However, only two members were. Magic spells, alien creatures, and mystic unions were the origins of the rest, and that would have given this team a very unique aspect if their own television show had been allowed to move forward. There would have been countless different story lines that could have played out, and the Mighty Mutanimals could have become a successful franchise it its own right. Unfortunately, the group was never to be, but hopefully the concept will be revived someday.