Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I

Part one of a series of TMNT articles.
March 25, 2007
It was 1983. A man named Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were watching tv one night. While watching tv, Kevin was drawing sketches. He wanted to make Peter laugh so he created a mask-wearing turtle, who was equipped with nunchakus. Peter took that drawing and tweaked the picture said it was a ninja turtle and then passed it back to Kevin. Kevin drew three more turtles, each with a different martial arts weapon, and added teenage mutant. The next morning they looked at the pictures and decided that they needed an origin story and they worked on a first issue. They borrowed money from Kevin's uncle and with that money they were able to form Mirage Studios.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Part 1: The Comics

Volume 1 (1984-1993) Mirage Comics

Before the movies and before the T.V. series', the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started in a series of comic books. The first comic debuted May 5, 1984 at a comic book convention in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The first comic was the origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles.

The origin comic was influenced by Frank Miller's Daredevil. Some people also say that there is another influence, either Ronin or New Mutants. From Daredevil they got the idea of rivaling ninja clans, Splinter is a parody of Daredevil's mentor, Stick, and the foot clan is parodied from a ninja clan called the hand. There were two things about the first issue that made it even more special. It was made in black and white and it was printed as an oversized magazine. Only 3,000 were produced and sold fast. A few months later, the origin would sell for over 50 times what it actually cost. Since then, TMNT has become a huge hit.

The first issue begins with the turtles fighting 15 members of a gang. They defeat them and flee, the police were showing up. When they got back, Splinter told them of their origins. The origin of the TMNT starts out in Japan. There is this man named Homato Yoshi and he is a respected ninja and a high ranked member of the Foot Clan. Yoshi had a pet rat named Splinter and Splinter would imitate Yoshi's pratice of ninjutsu. He was also in love with a woman named Tang Shen, but someone else loved her, Oroku Nagi. Shen rejected Nagi and Nagi got pissed. Thoe only way to protect the woman he loved, Yoshi killed Nagi, and was dishonored. He had a choice, either death or be exiled. He chose exile and fled to the United States with Shen, and Splinter. However, Nagi had a brother, Oroku Saki, and he wanted to avenge his brother. He started calling himself the Shredder and was able to track down Yoshi and Shen, and killed both of them, and his pet rat Splinter fled to the sewers. He stumbled upon 4 baby turtles, but there was an accident. A TCRI truck was carrying radioactive waste and a canaster flies out, hits a man, and then hits a bowl of pet turtles a child was carrying, and the bowl broke and the turtles ended up in the sewer with the now broken canaster. The waste gets all over the turtles and then Splinter gather's them up into a coffee can. He tries to clean them, but the waste gets on him as well. Then something strange started happening. The turtles and Splinter were growing and were becoming more like the humans. They were able to stand on two legs, and they could now speak. Splinter then found an old renaissance book in the sewers and named each turtle from the famous artists of that time. Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

After hearing this, they knew they must take out Oroku Saki. Oroku Saki had established the Foot Clan in America, and they participated in illegal activites, drugs, weapons, theft, and etc... The turtles challenged him to a final battle over honor on the rooftops. The turtles were able to defeat Shredder and they told him to perform Seppuku (an ancient ritual where someone kills themself in order to get back their honor), but he refuses and takes out a grenade. Donatello then saves everyone by throwing his bo at him, which caused Shredder to fall and the grenade exploded. The end of the Shredder? This was the beginning.

The next issues saw the meeting of April O' Neil. The turtles had to save her the mousers and her emplyer, Dr. Baxter Stockman. Raphael then went out on his own and dealt with a crime fighter named Casey Jones. Then they had to deal with the Utroms and the Triceratons. Then came the return of the Shredder, and his vengence on the turtles. He cornered Leonardo, when he was out on his own, and took him out. Then he returned him to the others at April's place, and burned down April's apartment in a final attempt to finish them off. The turtles fled the city and took refuge with April, Casey, and Splinter at an old farm house. After they take some time to get over the loss, they went back to New York. Then they go on to take out the Foot Clan and Shredder. The turtles find out their base and Leo and Raph end up getting separated, but Raph goes back to Don and Mikey. Leonardo ends up fighting the Shredder by himself. Leonardo become victorious in defeating the Shredder. The turtles have many more adventures including one where they battle with a giant leach, one where a man named Joey gets beaten up goes crazy and sees nothing but turtles and ends up killing himself, aliens trying to take over the planet, the first meeting with Leatherhead, and etc... Then the last 13 issues was the City at War arc. In this certain members of the foot rebel and try to take over leadership . This arc also has a split up of April and Casey. April moves to Los Angeles and Casey ends up in Colorado where he gets married and has a kid, a girl he names Shadow. Splinter is at the farm house where he falls, breaks his leg and encounters the Rat King and gets tortured by him. The Rat King was able to convince Splinter to eat rats. The turtles had to deal with the Foot and their new leader Karai. Karai is able to bring the turtles to her side and help kill the traitors of the Foot. Then Casey wife dies, and he returns to New York with his daughter and moves in with his mother, April's dad dies, and she returns to New York, where she becomes a real estate agent. There is also a great moment between April and Splinter where April tells Splinter she thinks of him as a father and Splinter calls April daughter. The turtles helped defeat the Foot that were causing trouble, and Karai makes a promise that the foot will never trouble them again.

These comics were very dark and definately not for kids. Instead of getting the bad guys sent to jail, they would kill. The first few issues had a monotonus color tone, but later they were rereleased with new covers and the covers were colored. The turtles had the same same colored bandana, red. This volume ended in 1993, but another volume was starting the same year.
Volume 2(1993-1995) Mirage Comics

This volume mad a change from the original version. Instead of the comic being in black and white, it was in color. It didn't last very long and only 13 issues came about. The first issues were dreams that Splnter, Raph, Leo, April, and Casey were having.
The turtles were staying at April's apartment, but Raphael soon left to find his own place. Baxter Stockman breaks into a secret facility in the desert called D.A.R.P.A. and transplants his brain into a robot.
Leonardo travels to the sewers where he fights some water creature. Raph, Mikey and Casey go looking for him only to get caught up in the fight. They then find an egg where a giant sea turtles come crashing down killing the sea creature and her egg. Then Stocman starts a rampage through New York where he kills people and causes destruction. They soon learn that the robot is Baster Stockman and try to stop him. They meet a vigilante named Nobody who is also trying to stop Stockman. In their first confrontation, Raph gets taken hostage and Stockman threatens Nobody to drop his gun and that he will drop Raph if he does. Nobody did, and Stockman drops Raph off of the roof and Stockman gets away. Raph then wakes up strapped in some sort of bed. While searching for Raphael, the turtles and Casey end up in the sewer where they once again fight with Stockman. Stockman takes an electric line and is about to electrify everyone when Leonardo throws his sword that pierces Stockman to the concrete and he ends up getting electrocuted and blows up. Raphael wakes up in his bed, and breaks free from the restraints where he sees these test tubes that certain creatures are being kept including a triceraton, but Raph is quickly captured again. The others find out where Raphael is being kept, in the D.A.R.P.A. faciility in Nevada. The turtles sneak into the facility and free the other aliens and species that are trapped in the tubes. Then the aliens and the turtles retrieve their weapons and form an alliancs. The find out where Raph is being held and break him out. Then they find an escape. Once they find it, a large army has arrived waiting for them. The last issues starts out with this battle, but they soon find out that a Triceraton army has landed and attacks the base. The Triceraton's are losing and the Commander does one last thing. He crashes the mothership and it explodes and vaporizes everything in its path. The turtles and Casey try to flee, but they get vaporized...

Then Leonardo wakes up and he asks Casey about Nevada. Casey just says that they have never been to Nevada. Then Leonardo looks out the window to see one of the men that helped them. He tells him REMEMBER, and then he says goodbye and leaves.

Volume 3 (1996-1999) Image

In 1996, Image took control of these comics. They brought it back to black and white issues. They created 23 issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, they changed the look of the turtles and the storylines got darker and was more violent. In the first issue, the turtles are attacked by a group of cyborgs and their leader, a female ninja name Pimiko. They capture Donatello and Splinter. While looking at a cyborg after the fight, the cyborg shoots Raph and severly injures his face. He then starts wearing a mask, similar to Casey's to hide his face.

Donatello ends up severly injured. He wakes up inside of a helicopter and attacks a cyborg. Then he falls out of the helicopter. Splinter is taken to meet someone named Lord Komodo. Lord Komodo is the heir to the dragon spirit or bushido, and that he intends to rule over Japan as his ancestors once did. He then shows Splinter this chamber where dead mutated animals are. He is trying to find the way that will let him unleash the powers of the dragon inside of him. They then move on to another room where they get attacked by Mako, a mutated shark (not the actor voicing Splinter in the TMNT movie). Lord Komodo transforms into a giant komodo dragon and Mako flees. Donatello maganed to survive his fall, but some of the parts of the cyborg form around him and he becomes a mutated turtle cyborg. The other turtles search for Donatello and Splinter. They then find out about Komodo industries. The break into the building and a battle rages. Raphael frees Splinter and then a komodo dragon appears and is about to eat the turtles when Donatello shows up and kills it. Lord Komodo then starts the self destruct sequence. While escaping, the turtles run into their master, except he was mutated into a bat.

This comic takes even more turns. Casey's daughter gets kidnappend. He ends up getting drunk and almost kills Leonardo. Raph goes out to find her and he finds out it was the Foot, and they tell him where she is. They also ask him to join the Foot. There is a virus that is let loose that causes people to transform into bats. They also meet a famous superhero named Knight Watchmen, and he creates an antidote that fixes the people who transformed into bats. The turtles then end up in Chicago to investigate some dealings with vampires. Michelangelo ends up in a relationship and they kiss. He also has his own apartment and he is in the middle of writing a novel. They then have to battle a robot, who kills Donatello, but since he was a cyborg, he also had a computer brain. The turtles go on to follow Deathwatch to destroy him, but Raph stays behind. Raph deals with these gangs who are terrorizing the Foot clan, and he ends up wearing Shredder's armor.

There are also reports that Shredder is back. Was it the real Shredder or Raph? Donatello was able to get his body back, after he switched bodies with Leonardo and Leonardo switches with Raph. Splinter gets caged by the Foot Clan. The turtles then go to attack Shredder, and Leonardo goes to fight him only to discover that it was Raphael and he is the new leader of the Foot. The next step for them was to bring Splinter back to the way he was. He was rejecting the antidote. The only was they can get him to accept the antidote is by battling him, which is won when Raph stabs him in the back. Splinter comes out of his mutated bat phase. Leatherhead returns but he gets caputured by Lord Komodo. There are a string of hunters murdered by something with large teeth. Leo investigates thinking its Leatherhead only to be attacked by Komodo Dragons and in the fight, Leo gets his hand bitten off. Mikey and Casey show up to free Leonardo and Leatherhead, and they take out Lord Komodo.

The Triceraton's come back and fight the turtles, Leatherhead, and Casey. they become triumphant and kill all of the Triceraton's that fight. The last two issues features Raph and his fight for leadership of the Foot Clan. He has to fight Pimiko, a woman they met earlier in the comics. Raph defeats her, but the people who choose the leader says he has to kill her. He refuses and the Foot get turned on him. The final issue the turtles has to fight the Foot Clan and their new leader, Cheng. He has been stealing Splinter's thoughts and life force and gains some of his abilities. Donatello makes a distraction, but Cheng and the foot soliders flee. This was the same day as the turtles birthday and the arrest of Casey as he goes nuts at a bank. What the turtles get, as a birthday present, is a copy of Michelangelo's published novel entitled, A Rose Among Thorns, and apparently Oprah loved it.

Volume 4 (2001-present) Mirage

This is the current comic and its title is. TMNT, and it also does not follow what happens in the last volume. The turtles are mostly on their own for many of the volumes. The turtles have aged, Casey and April are married and Casey's daughter, Shadow, is now a teenager. So the turtles are in their late 20's to early 30's. The beginning of this volume involves new species of creatures being found on the earth and what seems to be an alien invasion. It turns out the Utroms wish to make earth part of the intergalactic community. April becomes ill and the Utroms help her out by figuring out what she has. They have to look at her deceased family. Splinter gets spied on by Shadow's boyfriend, but he gets caught by Metalhead. The turtles get involved with April's illness and they search for any remains of Baxter Stockman. They find out that the only that can help are his nanobots, but the Utroms have their own version.

Then there is an end to one the characters, the turtles father and sensei, Master Splinter.

April gets better and starts looking to her pas, Donatello helps the Utroms with a string of attacks on their kind from dinosaurs and he and the Utroms get captured, Michelangelo becomes a tour guide of earth for alien travellers, Raphael gets attacked by vampires which causes him to change, and Leonardo has to deal with a new foe, and he teams up with Karai. There are many other things the turtles go through. Mikey ends up in an alien prison, Shadow gets attacked, April leaves to remember her past, Raph is still in his new form and teams up with Don to find Shadow's attackers, and Leo travels and ends up in the Battle Nexus. So far there are 28 issues. The last issues was done in Junes of 2006 and this volume is placed on hiatus so Laird could work on the new TMNT movie.

These are the main versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The next article I'm going to do is on the other comics that were made by other companies, and they don't follow these main comics.
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