Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles writer on how that shocking death came together

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Apr 3, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT (Updated)

Though the franchise has been around for decades, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in the midst of a creative renaissance over at IDW. One big reason? They’re not afraid to take a few (very big) risks. Here’s what the man pulling the strings had to say about the latest huge twist.

Massive spoilers ahead for the current run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Writer Tom Waltz chatted with IGN about the recent decision to (seemingly) kill off Donatello at the hands of Bebop and Rocksteady. It was freaking brutal, and a gut-wrenching scene to read. According to Waltz, the twist came as part of an overall push to set real stakes and try to create a story with real consequences:

“One thing we’ve tried to do from the very beginning is to always create a true sense of danger for our heroes. Fans who have been with us from the beginning will testify that nothing… and I mean nothing… comes easy for the IDW Turtles, their friends… even their enemies. From broken bones to broken families to broken hearts, our characters -- both good and bad, mutant and human -- have been run through the same mill every day folks like you and I go through in the real world.

A great writing mentor of mine, Frank Fradella, taught me a long time ago that these kinds of stories -- let’s call them super hero stories -- work best when the powers and the action and the cool gadgets are only part of the story’s setting. What really matters are the characters… if they are believable and relatable, then readers will stay onboard for the long haul and all that other stuff -- the fighting, the costumes, etc. -- is simply the cherry on top.

Along those lines, Kevin and Peter Laird laid a tremendous foundation when they created the TMNT way back when, focusing on family as the priority in any situation, no matter how fantastical or spectacular, and we continue to do our best to honor that core formula with our IDW Turtles.”

Digging a bit deeper into the death itself, Waltz said the response from readers has been visceral — which honestly isn’t much of a surprise. Even though he’s the man who put the words to script, Waltz said he still got choked up over seeing the scene splayed out on the page.

He also dropped a few hints about what will come next, and whether or not you’re upset over the death, it sounds like fans should definitely keep reading. Hey, in a world filled with mutant turtles, anything can happen, right?

“Oh, yeah… the tweets and FB posts have been numerous and have run the gamut from praise to horror to confusion to hate… to some folks wishing me dead. And though I find the hateful ones more than a little disconcerting, I’d be lying if I said wasn’t pleased to find out just how passionate so many folks are about our comic book and TMNT in general.

The truth is, I love working on this title and adore every single character I’ve been blessed to write, and Donnie’s no exception. That final scene in issue #44 choked me up when I wrote it… even more so when I saw how tragically beautiful Cory Smith and Ronda Pattison rendered it.

…In a world of mutants, thinking robots, inter-dimensional travel and ninja crime lords, one can never really say anything definitively. I hate spoilers so all I’ll say is this -- be sure to read issue #45 and our TMNT Free Comic Book Day issue for the surprising continuation of this story.

The only hint I’ll give is there is no earthly way Donnie can survive such a terrible injury. Furthermore...can his family survive such a terrible loss? Keep reading!”

What did you think of the twist? Was it a bold move, or a stretch too far?

(Via IGN)