“Which Ninja Turtle deserves to be crowned the best?” This is the question that’s been asked and debated for decades now. The reason being is that on the surface the question just isn’t a simple one to answer. I mean, look at your options here! You got Raphael: the brutish, brooding, slasher that could give Wolverine a run for his money. Michelangelo: the team’s mascot and comic relief, whose unorthodox and carefree fighting style is no joke. Then there is Donatello: the underrated, inventive tactician who is always thinking five steps ahead on the battlefield. Yes, the Turtle clan boasts several serious and unique options, but only one correct answer. That’s right! You see the name, you see the claim, so let me explain why the boy in blue is second to none.
1) “There’s never been a ninja this good for this long. This hood or this pop, this hot or this strong. With so many different flows, this one’s for this song. The next one I switch up, this one will get bit up.”
Simply put, Leonardo was made for this ninjutsu life. Ever since Master Splinter blessed the kid with his signature twin katana blades he got sick of class and started making classics. Everyone knows that Leo’s is a proven master of the swords, but he can also whoop your ass using various forms hand to hand combat and other different unique forms of weaponry. Leo once beat his rival’s ass — who was carrying a katana, mind you — with a damn pocket knife. In the Mirage comics when Leo’s hand got cut off, the God didn’t mope. No, he put a retractable blade on that nub and got back to murda bizness. Your fav could never!
2) “I ain’t a saint b, I ain’t a god, God. I ain’t an angel neither, but I try hard y’all.”
Leo catches a lot of flak for seeming the drollest out of the Renaissance Turtles, but heavy is the head that wears the crown. It ain’t easy carrying the burden of being Splinter’s golden boy and the leader of three rambunctious mutants, a role that was pretty much thrust upon him. Leo is constantly training, constantly meditating, constantly trying to better himself because he knows if he’s vulnerable for even a second he can be taken out then the rest of his fam is shit out of luck. Leo is that one vulnerable block in Jenga. One pull and the damn thing comes crashing down.
Look at the Mirage Comics Exile/Northhampton/Return To New York arc: Shredder orders the Foot Clan to attack an isolated Leonardo, Leonardo eventually falls and is thrown into the window of the Second Time Around antique shop, the rest of the Turtles decide to leave town while Leo recuperates. 2007’s CGI film: Leo leaves the sewers to embark on a spiritual journey for several years only to leave his brothers lost in his wake. Seriously, Mikey and Donnie held down full time jobs… things were as bad as they’ve ever been. In recent years IDW’s put out its City Fall arc, where a brainwashed Leo joins Shredder and the Foot and takes his own family out. Leo’s leadership may get called into question at times by his siblings, but deep down they all knows they couldn’t handle that burden and they all either admire or resent him for it.
3) “That’s me: more skilled, more sick, more ill, more spit, more flow, let’s go, no joke.”
“No, bro, let me tell you how it really is; I’m more ill, more balanced, more real, and more talented.”
The Leonardo/Raphael rivalry isn’t the most original. It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the Cyclops/Wolverine rivalry from the X-Men series. Most of their confrontations are a result of building animosity from over the years — Raph brooding over wanting to be an individual and Leo being the overbearing leader that he is. If you aren’t familiar, their arguments more or less go the exact same way.
“I am the leader of this band of misfits, so shape up or ship out.
“No way! I’m a loose cannon who doesn’t play by anyone’s rules.”
“Yout will today, mister. Now get in line, I mean it!”
The only thing missing is a redhead to fight over.
Now we got to put bias aside and just face the facts: 9 times out of 10 Raphael is getting washed in a fight with his brother. Raphael may be stronger than his brother and he definitely is more temepermental out the group, but Leo will always prevail because he’s everything Raph isn’t. Calm, precise, and calculated, Leo may not win many popularity contests, but in a no-holds-barred fight with the roughest Turtle around? My money’s on Leo every time.
4) “It’s Master Splinter’s Golden Child, M.A. dollar sign can’t nobody hold me down.”
You need some stealth shit done? Call Leonardo. You need a bomb ass war strategy? Call Leonardo. And if you need a send somebody to catch a body or a dozen, CALL LEONARDO! There is a reason Master Splinter chose the Leo to lead the team. When the Turtle’s shell is against the wall you know the God is going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Even if that means getting the Katana’s dirty. You come after Leo or his fam and the blades not getting put up until they taste blood. In the Mirage’s classic Leonardo one-shot; Leonardo held his own against an entire squadron of Foot soldiers, maiming dozens until he just couldn’t hold on any longer. While sparring with rival Cha Ocho, Leonardo made light work of the chump then traced the scar he gave em the fight before with his blade on some ol gangsta shit. Leo put NY and the squad on his back time and time again, don’t sleep!
5) “Fuck being on some chill shit, I go 0 to 100 ninja real shit. Shredder on that murder, lie, and steal shit. And I don’t feel that shit, not even a little bit.”
If you somehow missed out on the 2003 Funimation 4Kids TMNT show, you missed out. It was pretty much co-creator Peter Laird’s love letter to the hardcore fans. I remember waking up one morning, grabbing a bowl of cereal and flipping through the channels when I came into an episode at the tail end of its Return To New York arc. There Leo and Shredder are duking it out on top of a rooftop, just like in the books, when in full view of the audience Leo chops Shredder’s head off.
I was in hysterics, I dropped my fucking Fruit Loops on the ground. Yes, I knew how the fight ended in the comics, but never did I expect that this show would go there. This is a kids show! Decapitation and murder is not seen in American cartoons, ever. It didn’t matter that Shredder turned out to be an Utrom in a robotic body, the point is that Leo went into the fight with full intentions of killing Shredder, chopped his head off in an attempt to kill him, and left the fight content that his enemy was dead and decapitated. Leonardo didn’t know the Shredder was Utrom at the time and neither did the audience. We haven’t seen a move as ballsy since the days of Batman: The Animated Series. But c’mon now, Batman would never intentionally kill someone and neither would any other hero. Leonardo is operating on a different playing field than most cats and it’s time to give the God credit where it’s due. Drinks up to Leo Da Gawd: Childhood Legend.