Comic Book: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures
The turtles plus Ninjara.
Initially based on the massively popular first cartoon
, the Archie
-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures
eventually became one of the strangest incarnations of the franchise, and one that fans still remember with some fondness.
After adapting the cartoon pilot and a couple other episodes, the book set off in its own direction, introducing its own original characters and stories. While cartoon mainstays like The Shredder, Krang, and the Rat King still made appearances, they eventually took a back seat to characters like Ninjara, a Japanese Ninja fox; Cudley the Cowlick, living spaceship in the shape of a cow's head; Null, a businessman/demon with plans to sell Earth; and Armaggon, a mutant shark from the future.
The book had an environmentalist tone, with green aesops
galore. It also introduced young readers to political topics such as Apartheid
, Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Gulf War
, and even showing the more unpleasant aspects of Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of the Western Hemisphere and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. While the quality of the actual stories was variable and debatable, several of the concepts introduced here proved quite popular with fans of the franchise, some of whom continue to hope that elements from the book will be introduced in further incarnations.
The series lasted for 72 issues (March, 1989-October, 1995). In 1995, the series was cancelled before the book's regular creative team could begin their biggest storyline, dubbed "The Forever War". Instead, a three-issue storyline entitled "Year of the Turtle" was published in 1996, which had the Shredder return for a final battle against the Turtles only to end up in a coma. Despite serving as the finale to the Archie series, the miniseries still left some story arcs and conflicts hanging and unresolved.
The "Forever War" story arc remained in limbo for more than a decade, until Mirage comics announced that they would allow the story to be completed and released. Unfortunately, the project was plagued by scores of delays, and the project was cancelled after Nickelodeon's purchase of the franchise. However, IDW has gained the rights to publish Ninja Turtles Comic Books
, which include reprinting this one, so if you're interested, you can buy a paperback copy. There is also an IDW forum thread
dedicated to reviving the "Forever War" storyline.
For more details on the TMNT
franchise in general, visit the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
page. For a list of some of the characters in the series, visit the franchise character page
. For information on the cartoon the book is based on, see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Action Girl: April, Ninjara, several others.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: In the adaptation of the cartoon episode "A Thing About Rats", Baxter Stockman's hair was mysteriously colored white. His hair color was returned to its normal blond in the ongoing series, though.
- Adolf Hitler: Plays a part in the "Dreamland" arc, in a double-act with his time-travelling brain.
- Animorphism: A whole lot of it, though most of it was the permanent kind.
- Area 51: The turtles are temporarily held here in "Blind Sight".
- Art Shift: While the art initially tried to stay somewhat close to the toon, it eventually went in its own direction. Special note should be taken of Splinter and April, who went on to look completely different from their animated counterparts.
- Book Ends: The comic book series began as a three-issue miniseries that adapted the first five episodes of the Fred Wolf cartoon detailing the Turtles' first encounter with the Shredder and was concluded with another three-issue miniseries about the Turtles' final battle with him.
- Brain in a Jar: Hitler.
- Brought Down to Normal: Temporarily happens to Splinter and Michelangelo in the three-part finale of the series "Year of the Turtle". The magic amulet Shredder uses in the story ends up restoring Splinter to the form of Hamato Yoshi and Michelangelo to the form of an ordinary turtle. Later, the other Turtles use the amulet to restore Michelangelo to his mutant form and Yoshi's transformation wears off as he reverts back to his mutant rat form.
- Canon Foreigner: This being TMNT, a ton.
- Canon Immigrant: Cudley the Cowlick, as well as the idea of April becoming a martial artist herself.
- Several characters that appeared in the comic (such as Scumbug, Mondo Gecko, Wingnut and Screwloose) made their way into the Fred Wolf cartoon the comic was based on, but had completely different looks, origins, and alignments (e.g. Wingnut and Screwloose were one-shot villains from the planet Flagenon in the cartoon, when here they were allies of the Turtles from the planet Huana, which was destroyed by Krang).
- Canon Discontinuity: The second April miniseries was so reviled that it was later retconned into being a nightmare April had.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The series went from having a tone similar to the cartoon to becoming second only to the Mirage comics in seriousness. It remains the darkest thing Archie has ever published. However, this comic was easier to come across than the Mirage series, and being edgier than the cartoon while staying lighthearted at times attracted its own following.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Hitler's brain.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Null.
- Cthulhumanoid: Boss Salvage.
- Da Editor: Murdock Maxwell, in the first April mini-series.
- Death by Adaptation: Due to the death of the Mutanimals, this marks the only version where Leatherhead is outright killed in any TMNT media.
- The Future: We eventually get a glimpse of the Earth one hundred years in the future.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Quite a few examples, especially after the series stopped adapting cartoon episodes and started doing original stories.
- A notable pre-original story radar dodge occurs in the adaptation of "Hot-Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X". In one panel, you can see the Neutrino Zak whistling while ogling at April's breasts.
- In an issue of the Mighty Mutanimals spinoff series, the villain Null tells Jagwar's mother Juntarra that she can call him Mr. Null. Before being knocked out, Juntarra responds that she shall call him "Sister Null" before attacking him with a knife, strongly implying that she was trying to castrate him. The next issue had Null reveal that he captured Juntarra and Azrael to form his harem.
- In issue 25 of the main series, the last page has Bebop and Rocksteady remove their clothes and their naked rears are shown in the last panel. The story also has Bebop complain about his spandex pants being restrictive to his "bodily parts" in the beginning.
- The Mutanimals were brutally shot to death on-panel. Despite time-travel being involved, the team stayed dead. When it was revealed the demon Null was behind it, he disguised himself as one of Candy's deceased friends just to torment her with an image◊ of the Mutanimals burning alive in hell.
- Another storyline had future versions of the TMNT travel to the past, where they met up with Adolf Hitler. They tricked him into committing suicide◊.
- Grand Finale: The 1996 three-issue miniseries "Year of the Turtle", which involved Shredder ending up in a coma after his final battle with the Turtles and Splinter restored to the form of Hamato Yoshi, albeit temporarily.
- The "Forever War" storyline was supposed to be this, but it was canceled.
- The Grays: The Sons of Silence.
- Heel-Face Turn: Ninjara, who had been sent to kill the turtles. Also, Leatherhead, and to a certain extent Slash.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Slash.
- Hive Queen: Queen Maligna, an insectoid alien tyrant.
- Interspecies Romance: This version of Raph had a thing for canine ladies, romancing Ninjara (a fox) and eventually marrying Mezcall (a coyote). Also, Candy Fine continued her relationship with Mondo Gecko even after he'd turned into a mutant.
- On the other hand, Chameleon never had any luck with his female detective partner, whom he had a crush on; but in fairness, she had rejected him back when he was still human. Her stated objection wasn't that he was a mutant, but that he was her business partner.
- Killed Off for Real: On the villains' side, we have Queen Maligna and Null. On the heroes' side, we have the Mighty Mutanimals and Slash.
- Knight of Cerebus: Null, who is a demon intent on selling away the Earth. He was beaten twice by the joint efforts of the Turtles and the Mutanimals, so he starts killing them. He doesn’t try to kill them. He kills them.
- List of Transgressions: In #23, a space criminal named Bellybomb is sentenced to a toxic prison planet for seventeen life sentences for extortion, armed robbery, hijacking, kidnapping, torture, murder, man-eating, brain poaching, soul thievery... and impersonating a primitive deity named Bob. After the jailers read off these crimes, Bellybomb points out that they didn't mention his unpaid parking tickets.
- Louis Cypher: Null.
- Mecha-Mooks: Aside from the Foot Ninja, Null also uses a quartet of robotic mercenaries to kill the Mutanimals.
- Moral Guardians: The letters page in one issue included parents complaining about "satanic" concepts like meditation and a mutant who happened to have three eyes, and that the writers were trying to "brainwash" children by discussing Buddhism and Islam concepts in a couple issues. Fortunately, this xenophobic bitching was brushed off.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Sarnath, Katmandu.
- Must Have Nicotine: Oyuki Mashimi, for the duration of the first April mini-series.
- Mythology Gag: The one-eyed future Raph (see 1993's "The Future Shark Trilogy" storyline) references Mirage giving him a Eyepatch After Timeskip in their 1990 short story, "A Christmas Carol." It would not be the last time a different continuity would feature a future Raph with an eyepatch.
- The opening to the third "Adventures Special" features Raphael narrating with the lines "Let me tell you a story..." This line was always used to introduce the stories in the original Tales from the TMNT comic.
- A story that took place when the Turtles were little kids showed that they used to all wear red bandannas before Splinter made them were differently-colored bandannas to make it easier to tell them apart. This was a reference to the fact that all of the Turtles wore red bandannas in the original Mirage comics.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: Merdude, whose appearance overlaps with Fish People.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Dreadmon, permanently turned into a humanoid wolf by a Voodoo curse.
- Paint It Black: For quite a number of issues, Raph wore an all-black ninja body suit so he could better blend into the shadows. It was a holdover from when he and the others were intergalactic wrestlers. While the other three got rid of their costumes as soon as they could (they were much more outlandish than Raph's), Raph kept his for quite a while because he liked it. Even after he stopped wearing the whole thing, he still wore the pants for a few issues before finally dumping it altogether.
- Peek-a-Bangs: Oyuki.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: Played with (or double subverted) in one of the one-shot specials.
- Powered Armor: The turtles donned Cyber Armor for the "Dreamland Arc".
- Put on a Bus: Ninjara, after her breakup with Raphael. Perhaps she would have returned in time, if the series had lasted.
- Bebop and Rocksteady eventually get sick of fighting turtles, and of civilization in general. They decide to accept their animal natures and go to live on an unsettled wilderness planet.
- Krang, too, was phased out of the comic, being imprisoned on a distant planet for intergalactic crimes.
- And Baxter Stockman only appeared a couple of times, before vanishing. Really, the only villain from the cartoon who wasn't Put on a Bus was Shredder... and even he was Demoted to Extra as the comic went on.
- Race Lift: In the comic book's adaptations of the cartoon episodes "Turtle Tracks" and "Enter the Shredder", the skin color of Bebop's human form was for some reason made Caucasian, when he was an African American in the cartoon. This was later changed in Archie and IDW's reprints of the comic.
- Reality Warper: The Turnstone is an alien artifact that can do this. It also showed up in the Turtles' Newspaper Comic, albeit with different characteristics.
- Rewrite: It is eventually revealed that the mutagen did not change the turtles into their present form, but that the turtles instead grew into teenagehood—a blatant contradiction of the established backstory from the cartoon.
- Robotic Reveal: Occurs with Null's mercenaries during the "Terracide" arc.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Jagwar's mother Juntarra, albeit with Symbol Swearing.
- Spinoff: Several: The Mutanimals eventually got their own series, April got two mini-series, and Ninjara eventually appeared in her own solo stories after the book's cancelation.
- Story Arc: Most storylines concluded in 2-3 issues (Can you imagine Marvel or DC doing that these days?), but the World Tour was an overlying story that spanned 13 issues, taking the turtles (with Splinter and Ninjara) on adventures in Japan, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, outer space, Brazil, and the Bahamas.
- Take That: The first issue of the three-issue miniseries "Year of the Turtle", which served as the finale of this comic book series, had the Turtles fight a group of colorful costumed fighters called the Power Raiders, who were a Captain Ersatz of the Power Rangers.
- Temporary Blindness: Happened to Michelangelo for several issues.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: One story arc had the Shredder team up with Verminator X and Armaggon, who were both villains from the future. Confusion arose when it was revealed that the Shredder that worked with Verminator X and Armaggon was actually abducted from the events of the "Incredible Shrinking Turtles" adaptation, which led to Fridge Logic in regards to Shredder's appearances between that older story and the then current one.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The year 2094.
- Villain Team-Up: Several, most notably Null/Maligna and Verminator X/Armaggon/Shredder in "The Future Shark Trilogy".
- What the Hell, Hero?: In Dreamland, after Raph shoots Verminator X.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Happened in the Year of the Turtle miniseries, where the framing device was Splinter, who had been temporarily restored to the form of Hamato Yoshi, telling the events of the miniseries as a bedtime story to an amnesic Michelangelo.