What Could Have Been: He-Man/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Jerry Whitworth
Late last month, creator Freddie E. Williams II began selling pencil studies for a proposed He-Man/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover comic book series. At the time, Williams simple stated the project was delayed twice over the last year before being canceled. Williams had previously worked on such crossovers as Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I-III, He-Man/ThunderCats, and Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe. The art sold depicted mash-ups between various characters from both franchises showing Leonardo as He-Man, Michelangelo with Orko magic wand nunchaku, Raphael in Teela-inspired armor, Donatello with Man-at-Arms-based equipment, Prince Adam dressed as a ninja with the Ninja Turtles’ weapons, and an amalgamation of Shredder and Skeletor dubbed Shreddator. Recently, the creator spoke with the Raging Bullets podcast to discuss the defunct story.
Noted earlier, Freddie E. Williams II in recent years has contributed to various crossover comic book series at DC Comics. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have also had a long history of crossovers nearly from its beginning, but in more recent years there’s been Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, and two volumes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters in addition to the aforementioned works. Thus, it was unsurprising there was a desire to see a Masters of the Universe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover from Mattel and Nickelodeon, respectively. Also, given his history, Williams was the ideal candidate to draw it. The artist was approached by DC Comics roughly two years ago to begin development of the series without a writer collaborator attached. Though, Williams favored fellow creator Tim Seeley with whom he worked with on Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe (and who wrote He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse) so they collaborated in secret on the project. As part of these early developments, Williams drew mash-ups of the brands as it was viewed positively when he did such earlier with Batman and the Ninja Turtles. However, the proposed series met its first roadblock when Williams suspected Nickelodeon feared the difference in how the Ninja Turtles were depicted in the comics versus the 2018 Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series would hurt the emerging brand. So, the project was delayed.
As time passed, Williams avoided ongoing work and larger projects to keep his schedule open for He-Man/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Inadvertently, the creator took himself out of the running to participate in the critically-acclaimed and fan-lauded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin series. While Nickelodeon was initially high on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, going so far as ordering a second season before the show debuted, the second season was cut in half during its production with the fate of its third season still in limbo for approximately the last year. Williams was contacted about a year ago, prior to the onset of the pandemic, that the project was back on and to begin work on it again. Sadly, after a few days, the creator learned Mattel had pulled out. Williams believes the upcoming Masters of the Universe: Revelation animated series (which was publicly announced around the time the artist initially started work on the He-Man/Ninja Turtles book) and a prequel comic book for the show at Dark Horse Comics ultimately doomed the project. In fact, it was in the wake of the Dark Horse announcement he felt confident that he could reveal the details of the failed work as the project was suppose to land at DC Comics. As of this writing, Williams has continued to release art for the canceled series for sale on his website.