In nearly forty years, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have made as many monstrous mutant allies as they have enemies. Of course, during all this time, there are bound to be some shifting allegiances. In the case of the Punk Frogs in the IDW ongoing series, they have gone from longtime friends of the Heroes in a Half Shell to their latest, most menacing foes. Much like their previous versions, these Punk Frogs got their start as the unwitting victims of someone else’s war, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the most tragic versions of themselves. nowadays.
As the titular heroes are embroiled in the horrific machinations of the mysterious Dr. Barlow in the preset, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #29 (by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Sophie Campbell, Tony Gregori, Ronda Pattison, and Shawn Lee) gave readers a glimpse into another mutant team’s not-so-distant past. The Punk Frogs, who so far have only caused trouble for the Splinter Clan, have apparently made their own debut in the greatest tragedy the Turtles have ever known. It turns out that the Punk Frogs, like almost everyone else in Mutant Town, were unwitting victims of Old Hob’s mutagen bomb. Not only that, the amphibious anarchists never even saw it coming.
When the Punk Frogs first appeared in the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anime series, they were in command of the Foot Clan’s own Oroku Saki, aka Shredder. After four otherwise ordinary frogs were exposed to Mutagen Ooze, they were unleashed in New York at Shredder’s request. Luckily, their innate good natures and Splinter’s guidance convinced the Punk Frogs to turn on their captor, and with their help the new team of mutants escaped Shredder’s clutches. In the years that followed, the Punk Frogs returned multiple times through various iterations of the franchise, though they didn’t always end up becoming allies of the Splinter Clan.
The last time the Punk Frogs appeared in a new form was during the events of 2015 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 2 by Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz. In this event, the Punk Frogs appeared only as antagonists. As always, their efforts were rooted in survival rather than overt malevolent intent. This trend is one that seems to continue in the pages of the currently ongoing IDW series.
Although they have attacked the Turtles seemingly unprovoked on several occasions, there is the obvious concern for one of their own who has gone missing that is really the driving factor in their actions. When coupled with the grotesque experiments conducted by Dr. Barlow, who once saw mutant frog limbs used in heartbreaking ways, the odds that these punk frogs are in fact as bad as they seem only diminish.
Hopefully, the Punk Frogs can find their missing friend alive, and maybe even reconcile with the Turtles in the process. Despite all their flaws, they are still victims of Mutant Town’s tragic origin. Worse still, before their transformation, they were just another crowd of rowdy, excited tourists about to head home after exploring the city. Of course, there are many others who suffer the exact same fate behind the walls of Mutant Town, none of whom have ever asked for the transformations they have undergone. If nothing else, the Splinter Clan can all relate to this devastating state of life. And, with any luck, he’ll prove to be the bridge that brings the two teams of mutants together before unnecessary blood is shed.
Shredder is the new TMNT leader in the Armageddon game event storyline