Despite being one of the main characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since before the classic ‘90s cartoon, April O’Neil never got the development she deserved in terms of a proper origin story–that is, until now.
Upon her initial introduction, April O’Neil was a journalist who learned of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ existence after they saved her life from the Foot Clan. In fact, April was the first person to ever get a clear view of the TMNT and accept them for the heroes they truly are rather than just getting freaked out by their physical appearance (which, to be fair, she did do, but she collected herself quickly). After the Ninja Turtles saved her life, April decided to remain close with them and even use her investigative journalism skills to help them fight back against the Foot Clan. So, while April was depicted as a loyal friend, skilled journalist, and worthy member of the TMNT, she didn’t really get any kind of character development herself. April was a perpetual side character who wasn’t fleshed out beyond what she did in any given TMNT story. However, with the newly established continuity under IDW Publishing, those shortcomings were greatly improved.
April O’Neil’s Motivations are Further Explored in TMNT
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #78 by Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz, and Damian Couceiro, the Triceratons have invaded Earth, and while humanity has responded with a declaration of war, the powers-that-be aren’t ready to reveal to the world not only that aliens exist, but that they’re attacking the planet. However, not everyone is buying the false stories that are being funneled to television journalists by the governmental shadow organization behind the coverup. Two of those people are April O’Neil’s mom and dad. April’s dad is a scientist, a critical thinker who’s also inherently skeptical. April’s mom is a former investigative journalist who can easily see through the lies and half-truths being spewed by the ‘talking heads’ on T.V.
While this issue isn’t the first time readers are given the background on April’s parents, it is the first time that passionate fire for the truth burned within them on-panel–which is incredibly telling in terms of April’s upbringing. When April was a little girl, her parents were at the top of their respective games, and she watched as they dove head-first into their passions, which both had to do with uncovering the truth. For April’s dad, that truth was to be uncovered in his laboratory with his experiments, and for her mom, the truths she was after were in the streets of New York City. This insight into April O’Neil and her parents perfectly explains how April ended up the way she did–and the IDW series doesn’t stop there.
April is a much more complex character in this new TMNT continuity. She is introduced as a scientific lab intern, as she assuredly wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps (which is how she first encountered the Turtles and the Foot Clan), but as her relationship with the Turtles grew and her social awareness became more expansive, April realized that journalism was her passion, just like her mother. Originally, before IDW’s new canon, April’s motivations began and ended with the fact that she was a journalist who just wanted to help the Turtles anyway she could, whereas now, those motivations can be tracked all the way back to her childhood and home life–effectively giving April O’Neil a proper origin in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.