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Comic Book / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures

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Issue 1 of the comic.

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, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Gulf War, and even showing the more unpleasant aspects of Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of the Western Hemisphere and the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 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 Publishing 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, as well as a crowdfunding campaign.

A re-edited version of the comic, including some original stories, was published by Fleetway in the UK from 1990 to 1994 under the title Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Adventures.

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 (1987). Besides being based on the 80s cartoon, this series is unrelated to the much later Saturday Morning Adventures comic, which is designed to be in the continuity of the 80s series.


  • 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.
    • In the adaptation of "Return of the Shredder", Vernon has brown hair rather than black, and Irma has black hair rather than brown.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the adaptation of "Return of the Shredder" Vernon's last name is revealed to be Prindle, while in the cartoon it was Fenwick.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Casey Jones never appears in the series. Oddly enough though, he is mentioned in "Year of the Turtle," so the Turtles did apparently encounter him at one time, though the meeting is never shown.
    • The original "Heroes in a Half-Shell" three-issue miniseries, which consisted of adaptations of the cartoon's first five episodes, omitted Burne Thompson, Vernon Fenwick, and several bit characters. They would appear in the "Return of the Shredder" two-parter after that though, but only that.
  • 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.
  • Badass in Distress: Armaggon kidnaps Leonardo in part two of "The Future Shark Trilogy" and his teammates Shredder and Verminator-X capture 3 of the 4 future Turtles (only Future Raphael escapes).
  • Bittersweet Ending: How the series ended in the "Year of the Turtle" miniseries. The Shredder is defeated for good because he ends up in a coma and Splinter is returned to the form of Hamato Yoshi, but Yoshi's return to his human form is only temporary and he will eventually become a rat mutant again. In addition, the Turtles had lost many of their allies by this point, whether they were killed like the Mighty Mutanimals or merely had a falling out like Ninjara.
  • 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's brain, which gets hijacked after his death as a sort of hot potato to make various villains more evil by virtue of carrying it around.
  • 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 Discontinuity: The second April miniseries was so reviled that it was later retconned into being a nightmare April had.
  • 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, Tattoo, 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).
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series went from having a tone similar to the cartoon to becoming second only to the Mirage comics in seriousness. It was the darkest thing Archie had published up to the change of leadership in The New '10s. 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.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Before establishing its own continuity, the comic started as an adaptation of the 1987 cartoon, with the three-issue "Heroes in a Half-Shell" miniseries and the first four issues of the ongoing series being adaptations of the cartoon's first seven episodes.
  • Conqueror from the Future: Seems to have been Armaggon's motivation.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Null earned his title as "The Man Who Sold The World" when his company made a deal with a Horde of Alien Locusts to assist in the smooth and easy conquest of Earth in exchange for the technology to move their business off world. That their Queen Maligna planned to feast on the human race didn't seem to bother him at all. He later did this again with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Someone should really take his business license away.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Null.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Boss Salvage, who is an Expy of Tessek from Star Wars.
  • Da Editor: Murdock Maxwell, in the first April mini-series.
  • Darker and Edgier: Many issues are much darker in tone than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) cartoon this comic was based on.
  • Death by Adaptation: Due to the death of the Mutanimals, this marks the only version where Leatherhead is outright killed in any TMNT media.
  • Demoted to Extra: Any major character featured or introduced in the cartoon had this happen to them. Irma and Vernon only appear in the first two issues and are never seen again, while Burne Thompson lasts up to issue 3 before he likewise vanishes. Baxter only shows up during issues 2-4, then makes once more appearance during a flashback in the "Future Shark Trilogy" arc a few years later. Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady were all regulars at first, but ended up getting written out after the book's second year. While Shredder would at least remain a minor recurring villain afterward, the other three returned for just one more three-part story before never being seen again. The Rat King meanwhile only shows up for a few pages in issue 11 and one fight scene in the "Future Shark Trilogy".
  • Devil in Disguise: Null is revealed to actually be Satan.
  • Downer Ending: Since the final two issues are a lighthearted flashback to an adventure the Turtles had as preteens, the series effectively ended with issue 70 where Raphael and Ninjara break up.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Vernimator-X was apparently a good guy and the apprentice of Donatello in the future before turning evil.
  • The Full Name Adventures: It's right there in the title.
  • Fusion Dance: Chien Khan's origin story. He was originally a mixed-race Japanese/Chinese hoodlum who was mystically fused with his pit-bull terrier Mauler by the evil oni Noi Dai Tar.
  • The Future: We eventually get a glimpse of the Earth one hundred years in the future.
  • Future Badass: Future Raphael in particular seems to invoke this with his missing eye.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Subverted with Raphael and Future Raphael, who butt heads as only two The Lancer characters stuck together could.
  • Genius Bruiser: Armaggon, the giant Shark Man who upon commandeering a space ship rants at the crew because their tech isn't advanced enough for his tastes.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Verminator-X is usually seen smoking and is an evil Beast Man (a werecat specifically).
  • 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.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Yoshi Chen was fused with his own dog via dark sorcery to become Chien Khan.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Ninjara, who had been sent to kill the turtles. Also, Leatherhead, and to a certain extent Slash.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Slash goes out this way.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Subverted, as the Turtles actually trick Hitler into his historical suicide.
  • Hive Queen: Queen Maligna, an insectoid alien tyrant.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: Maligna's hive world plummets into the Sun as the organic engine is destroyed. Slash stays behind to make sure Maligna cannot escape.
  • 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 her hive world. 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 the Mutanimals. He doesn’t try to kill them. He kills them.
  • Last of His Kind: The crazy human-sized bat Wingnut and his mosquito companion Screwloose are among the last surviving members of the planet Huanu, a planet in Dimension X destroyed by Krang.
  • Left Hanging: Several plot threads are left unsolved due to its cancellation, such as Null still being out there.
  • 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.
  • Living Ship: On the Heroes side, Cudley the cowlick, on the villain's side, Hiveworld, Maligna even feels the pain when the engine organ is cut.
  • Magic Knight: Chien Khan is a magic samurai. Who is also a Beast Man.
  • Mask Power: Subverted with Chien Khan's samurai kabuto. It's just an ordinary helmet, and its only purpose is to disguise him as a Beast Man before The Reveal.
  • 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 (Bellybomb), and that the writers were trying to "brainwash" children by discussing Buddhism and Islam in a couple issues. The writers published the letters just to tell the parents to chill out.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Sarnath and 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 eventually deciding to wear differently-colored bandannas to make it easier for Splinter to tell them apart. This was a reference to the fact that all of the Turtles wore red bandannas in the original Mirage comics.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Chien Khan is the original employer of Ninjara and is responsible for sending her to kill the Turtles. This sets into motion a chain of events ending in her betraying him to side with the Turtles.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: More than a few of the original characters created for the title veered to this territory.
    • Armaggon, Time-Traveling Conqueror Scientist Sharkman.
    • Chien Khan, Samurai Crimelord Sorcerer Dogman.
  • Off with His Head!: Subverted when Slash is fighting Leonardo. Slash tries to decapitate Leo, but he narrowly avoids it by pulling his head into his shell. Slash still slices off the cords of Leo's bandana.
  • 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 the brief time 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.
    • The latter is justified, because those several issues were how long it took for the Turtles to get home, allowing Raph to switch to his regular gear.
  • 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" and Armaggon pilots a Power Loader-size suit in part two of "The Future Shark Trilogy"
  • 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 the Turtles, and of civilization in general. They decide to accept their animal natures and go to live on an unsettled wilderness planet.
    • 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.
  • Put on a Prison Bus: Krang, too, was phased out of the comic, being imprisoned on the planet of Morbus for intergalactic crimes. He would appear in a few of the specials afterward though.
  • 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.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Despite sharks usually having Empty Eyes, Armaggon has these.
  • Refuge in Audacity: At times this series is almost too silly to be believed, which allows it to incorporate the kind of material one wouldn't expect to find in an Archie Comics series.
  • 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.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Noi Dai Tar, Great Oni and Chien Khan's benefactor.
    • This is eventually the fate of Khan himself, who is booted into Noi Dai Tar's dimension by April.
  • Shark Man: Armaggon the Future Shark is a fairly stock example.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Due to being Put on a Bus after “The Incredible Shrinking Turtles,” Baxter Stockman is spared his cartoon counterpart’s fate of being mutated into a fly and trapped between dimensions.
  • Take That!: The first issue of the three-issue miniseries "Year of the Turtle", which served as the finale of this series, had the Turtles fight the Power Raiders, a group of colorful costumed heroes that are soon revealed to be hired by the Shredder. This results in the Turtles beating the hell out of the Raiders with ease, mocking their lack of martial arts skill. note 
    Raphael: Hey, Power geek! MORPH THIS!
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Jagwar's mother Juntarra is often seen cursing a blue streak, albeit with Symbol Swearing, especially when she is fighting Null and his minions.
  • 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 main series' cancellation.
  • 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.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Armaggon retrieves Hitler's brain as one of the components needed to make his time machine work, creating a scenario where the shark jumps Hitler.
  • Temporary Blindness: Happens to Michelangelo for several issues, after being too close to an explosion.
  • Time Travel: Armaggon's specialty.
  • 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.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: One story arc transports the Turles to the year 2094.
  • Verbal Tic: Leatherhead often yells "Ut!", especially when engaged in strenuous activity.
  • Villain Team-Up: Several, most notably Null/Maligna, and Verminator X/Armaggon/Shredder in "The Future Shark Trilogy".
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Null manages to escape the turtles on Maligna's ship, which shortly afterwards falls into the sun.
  • 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.
  • World Tour: The Turtles and their friends tended to travel abroad a lot. There are practically more issues where they are not in New York than issues where they are.