Swan Song.jpg

Some TMNT stuff really isn't for little kids.

Swan Song is issue #41 of Tales of the TMNT volume 2, published by Mirage Studios in December 2007. It references the story of Dreams of Stone, and is the story of Leonardo and Radical's future life. This issue also includes a backup story, Fathers and Daughters.

Tales Volume 2 > Issue # 41
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Pages: 29



My name's Leonardo.
Not too many things amaze me and I'm surprised by even less.
Still, reflecting upon some of upon some of our adventures throughout space and time has kept me up late into the evening on more than one occasion...
...leading me to ruminating on what was, what might have been...
...and what will be.
Let me tell you a story...


The story is narrated by Leonardo. He appears as an elderly bodhisattva wearing a kimono and kasa, with his pair of katana mounted on his back.

Mount Fuji, Japan, 2099.
In spring the garden is a feast of blossom...
...Can I be any different?
For me—at least at this point in my life—it is as Nietzsche stated:
"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
Thus is it that my asceticism of the past seven years comes to an end:
The why in the how have become as one. It is time to emerge from the chrysalis of my self-imposition, time to take wing...
And re-enter the world of man.
Yet I more than simply re-enter, I plunge.
Directly, deeply, with all six senses I scan the concrete and asphalt, sift through the modern flotsam and jetsam thrown up by man's major cities, seeking... Ever seeking.
From Hong Kong...
...to Sydney...
And finally—and with a melancholy and an attachment I thought long since integrated and then disintegrated through prolonged meditation and graduated emptiness—
San Francisco.
Attachment. Memory. I let myself go.
Like an anchor wrapped around my body and thrown to sea...
...I am awash with memory...
...drowned in attachment.

A younger Leonardo and Radical are in the American Southwest, holding hands and basking in the beautiful desert landscape.

Leonardo: Radical... ...I ...I never knew that I could gain such spiritual enrichment from a physical environment... ...Yet this country's southwest—your ancestral homeland—just... Just being here is enough to raise my spiritual awareness to levels that I've only previously attained through the most rigorous of my sensei's teachings on inner peace and the waves of empty oneness that can arise.
Radical: Now you know why my people chose to live here, Leo... ... Why this was tranquility and satisfaction enough. Do you understand?
Leonardo: A silly question.

Leo and Radical look into each other's eyes.

Radical: You do understand.
Leonardo: I do.

Leo and Radical share a tender kiss. They return to their campground, share a peaceful evening by their campfire, and finally they spend the night together in their shared tent with one of Leo's katana staked just outside the entrance.

And we did.
We understood each other completely... Connected in ways I had always yearned for but never thought possible.
We folded into each other and didn't let go, just as one season holds on to and then yields to the next.
We became as one. It was as if our two bodies, our twin souls, ceded to a spiritual level of ineffable inseparability... A state of bliss I had always tried to attain through my years of study but never attained. I see now that I could not have done so alone.
Was this love?
This was more than love. It was transcendence. Perpetual spring. Unending blossom.
We eventually stepped back for a time, stepped back into time...
...into each other's stories... ...Came east...

Leo and Radical visit the neon buffalo in rural western Massachusetts, which is now even more dilapidated with the ravages of time.

Leonardo: This is where we fought Complete Carnage.
Radical: Yes... ... This is where his great evil tried to defile this land most holy to my ancestors.
Leonardo: The old roadside billboard doesn't look like it'll be around much longer.

Leo and Radical visit the Jones Farm outside Northampton.

Radical: No, my love, for it's true—all things must pass...even your old home it seems...
Leonardo: Soon all this will only exist in our memories.
Radical: Our memories. Yes, our memories... And then what?
Leonardo: And then we step into the great unknown.
Radical: Perhaps. Or perhaps into the great...known.

Known or unknown, the world was ours to explore, to revisit, to view through the eyes of two people very much in love.
Our next stop was New York to say hello to my brothers. It was the first time either of us had set foot on asphalt or concrete in over a year...
...I sensed Radical's apprehension immediately upon arrival, assumed it was due to jarring contradistinction of our leaving nature for the manmade world.
I was wrong.

Leo and Radical are out in public on the crowded sidewalks of New York City, now populated by all manner of human and alien residents.

Radical: Wait. Leonardo. Do you... Do you sense that...?
Leonardo: Mmmm, sense...what?
Radical: Sense...that! It's...it's him...!

Two hands abruptly morph out of the brick wall the couple are standing next to.

Radical: ...Complete Carnage!
Leonardo: @#$%! Quick, get behind me! Get—

Complete Carnage quickly grabs Radical by the head and neck as Leo reaches for his katana.

Radical: Leo—
Leonardo: No!

With one sharp motion, Carnage snaps Radical's neck.

Carnage: Yes. At long last... ...Yes.

Carnage starts laughing sadistically as his form morphs back into the brick wall and disappears. Leo watches Radical slump over and fall down.

Leonardo: Radical?

Radical lies motionless on the sidewalk.

Leonardo: But... But...

Leo's eyes fill with tears and he cries out in anguish as pedestrians look on in shock.

Leonardo and his three brothers gather behind the neon buffalo. A humble cairn of rocks marks the final resting place of Raven Shadowheart.

I couldn't believe it. A simple twist of the neck and it was over.
I chose to bury her in one of her most sacred places, a spiritual touchstone of her ancestors...
...An undeveloped piece of land where she knew her greatest power...
...and deepest peacefulness.

Leo places a single rose at the memorial.

Leonardo: Goodbye, my love.

And then I left, an empty vessel... A spirit adrift.
I wanted revenge. A slow torturous death for Carnage. I would take his life, for him taking hers. I wanted his death. I wanted his life.
And when I failed to locate him...
...I even considered taking my own life...
...If only to give my soul its wings, give my suffering an end...
...Reunited me with my beloved.
My travels took me to a secret monastery hidden near the base of Mount Fuji.
I eventually found an inner peace that was the closest individual spirituality to love for another.

Again, Leonardo appears as the elderly holy man.

Many years passed. Having shed all attachment to worldly concerns I attained the rank of simple monk, one of the few to reach bodhisattva.
I eventually returned to the world of man, if only to rejoice in the unadorned pleasures of existence.
I returned to San Francisco.

Leo sees an outdoor news ticker:


Leo boards a flight to Hong Kong.

That, I suppose, was my first mistake.
My second and third would come soon enough.

Leo visits the area outside the scene.

The building was encased in what appeared to be some sort of organic rock. After all these years... Could it be? I had to find out.
Security forces had the building surrounded, helicopters buzzed overhead...

Leo looks at a sewer manhole.

No one ever thinks to look...

Leo wades through the sewer, entering the building from a floor grate. Leo finds many human hostages ensnared by tentacles of living rock.

...I was right.
It was he.

Complete Carnage's head and arms emerge from a nearby wall to confront the turtle.

Carnage: So, come for revenge at last, eh?
Leonardo: No. To the contrary: I've come...to forgive you...
Carnage: Forgive me? HA HA HA!

Leo begins trying to free one of the humans.

Leonardo: ...and to free your hostages.

Carnage sends a barrage of concrete bricks in Leo's direction.

Carnage: Fool! You think you can just waltz in here and disrupt my plans?!

Leo's left katana arm is swift, cutting down the bricks.

Leonardo: Actually...

Leo and Carnage rush each other.

Leonardo: ...Yes, I do.

The two are embroiled in melee.

Carnage: You're a bigger fool than I thought!
Leonardo: Hai!

The two continue to exchange attacks, neither gaining an advantage over the other.

Leonardo: You must cease your evil ways. You need to understand the true value of life.
Carnage: The value of life? Oh, that's something that I understand far better than you do... ...See?

Carnage gleefully squeezes one of the hostages to death.

Carnage: I would have thought that was something you learned a long time ago. You know... Like with your girlfriend.

Once again in his life, Leo stands stunned and disturbed by the cold-blooded murder that has just happened in front of his eyes.

Leonardo: You... You killed her... Like it was nothing... Like you did Radical. I really did come here to forgive you.

Leo's dismay turns to burning anger.

Leonardo: But you...

That was my second mistake.

Leonardo: ...You're not worthy of forgiveness!

In a moment of pure wrath, Leo furiously rushes forward and slices Carnage vertically in two with his katana.

And this...
...was my third.

Leo somberly frees the remaining hostages.

Afterward, Leonardo heads to the pier and tosses his pair of katana into the ocean along with their scabbards.

Carnage was my final kill.

Leo wades into the water and removes his kimono, proceeding to wash himself.

My final need for cleansing.

Leonardo now appears much older even than before, greatly advanced in age. He sits in the lotus position on the grass in an urban park.

That was many years ago...
...And just learning the nuances of atonement and detachment...

Leo, still in the lotus position, gets up my levitating into the air just off the ground. He picks up his bokken and starts walking.

...back when I was still a relatively young turtle...
...and not yet prepared...

Leo climbs the trunk of a tree, entering a humble treehouse on its branches.

...for the next life.


Major Characters

Minor Characters


  • A "swan song" refers to a final performance or accomplishment before one's retirement. This is an apt descriptor, as Swan Song is usually considered Leonardo's final story chronologically in the Mirage Chronology where he is seen alive.
  • Swan Song delves into Leonardo's Buddhism more deeply than any other Mirage story.


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