by Ryan Mogge
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Choice is a privilege. It’s easy to take that for granted when facing horrible options, but self-determination is worth something. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 11, Rich Douek and Aaron Conley explore this idea through the characters of Ray and Dreadmon.
While Ray and Dreadmon at first bond over their horrible childhoods, Ray’s mood turns when he hears Dreadmon’s regret over becoming a mutant. He doesn’t recognize that it’s not a judgement of his kind. He can only see that Dreadmon once had the self-determination that comes with being human.
Ultimately, the two are on the same side, but Ray’s view of Dreadmon and all of his actions is changed once he knows that Dreadmon is not like him. He recognizes that, by having been human, Dreadmon cannot relate. Not only that, but he picks up a sense of superiority from Dreadmon.
Whether the word that Dreadmon was reaching for was “monster” or not, Dreadmon’s experience of changing was something he regrets. Ray does not have that option, without regretting his entire existence. He is still willing to fight alongside Dreadmon, but they are on two sides of a divide.
Reinforcing that, Dreadmon is the one that the Null thugs are looking for and the only one they need to take alive. They offer to return him to human, implying the inherent supremacy of that state. He is able to run off into the woods, intending to explore the country and find freedom outside of the confines of the system. Meanwhile, Ray cannot break free of the drive to destroy Null Group.
That ability to see a life beyond the conflict between mutants and their creators is a privilege in itself. Perhaps it’s because Dreadmon’s childhood showed him that Null is not the only evil, but one of many. The brief glimpses we get of Dreadmon and Ray’s respective pasts let us know that they have more in common than either can know.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?