Venus de Milo
The 5th Turtle
Released in 1997
Perhaps the most infamous character to be introduced into the Turtles storied history, Venus de Milo is a character that deserves more of a positive spotlight put. There is so much negativity out there about her that I can’t blame you if you just dismissed her without so much as a glance at her own creation or impact.
In 1997, there was a live action television series called Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation. Reactions were mixed, to say the least, and the show only lasted a single season. Everyone reading this probably already knows that the show was meant to be a pseudo sequel to the film series that introduced a new hero to the mix that was the long lost “sister” to the Turtles named Mei Pieh Chi, or more commonly, Venus. Also in ’97, there was another series of action figures released that saw the touted a roster of around thirty figures (including variants). The figures were slightly bigger than the ones released by Playmates in ’87. They were made with a softer plastic and featured less articulation, and while the sculpts were different, they weren’t lacking in detail; it was just that the art style was different than what came before.
Venus’ figure has a very sleek design that carries enough similarities to the ’88 Turtles that she can fit right in alongside her fellow mutants. Venus’ character is actually represented very well with her warm smile, braided bandana and she has two yin yang crests on her person; one on her right arm and the other on her left leg. While I wish her shell weren’t the same shade of green as her skin, there are enough textured details in the shells sculpt that prove that this wasn’t a cost cutting solution. And to top it all off, she has an initialed belt buckle around her waist, perhaps as a callback to the Turtles of ’87.
Venus had an uphill battle from the word “go”. We all know that people were unhappy with the look of the Next Mutation television series. Some people didn’t like the fact that Venus was a girl, they didn’t like that she was a spiritual character that didn’t understand American customs. People complained that she was something of a magic caster, but also had no problem with Splinter visiting the astral plane whenever he wanted. But if you’re willing to give the show a shot, which I understand isn’t the easiest thing to do (admittedly, despite my enjoyment of it, the show could’ve been less campy), you’d see that the spirit of who the Turtles are, is left intact. They joked around a little more than usual, and the revelation that they weren’t blood related was a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow. But the fact that they always, in nearly every episode, referred to themselves as a family, proved that these were the same Turtles we’ve known since we were kids, just told in a different light. And Venus added a great layer to the show that a lot of people don’t give her credit for. She was just as physically capable and disciplined as the Turtles. She could conjure magical fire to aid her in battle and read minds, but she wasn’t proficient in it…yet. She was also a perfect foil for Donatello, seeing as how she is spiritual, and Donnie doesn’t believe in, nor does he have time for, mysticism.
While the show didn’t last long, there still exists a following for the character as well as the action figure. While the internet would have you believe that the Next Mutation never existed and is a terrible blight upon humanity, I would rather you just decide for yourself. The fact that she’s been brushed under the rug, in my opinion, kind of goes against what the Turtles are all about. Back in 1984, when the Turtles were just making their debut in comic book stores, I can’t help but wonder what my reaction would’ve been. Would I have thought it was a waste of time, or would I have taken a chance on it? Well, obviously, plenty of people took a chance on the Turtles. In fact, they keep taking chances on them. We are in the midst of a fourth animated series premiering on television back in 2018. There have been six feature films from several directors and hundreds, if not thousands of action figures for us to collect, but Venus, this one character from one show that wasn’t as good as the others, doesn’t deserve another chance? I beg to differ. If nothing else, the Turtles prove to us, time and again, that we should never judge a book by its cover. Venus, a character that accepted the four Turtles and Splinter as her family without a seconds thought, wouldn’t judge you for being a little different.
Turtle Trivia: After the cancellation of Next Mutation, Venus’ adventures were continued in a blog called Venus’ Venerations. Sadly, they were deleted after Kevin Eastman sold his rights to the TMNT.
*Venus was released as a part of the Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation toy line.