Follow TV Tropes

Following

Comic Book / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage)

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bb9fee99_d8e6_4e8a_91e4_aa424c97b14a.png
The Original Turtles
Advertisement:

The original incarnation of Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the one that lit the firecracker. The first issue appeared in May 1984.

After the unexpected success of their first issue, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird continued expanding their universe in a somewhat haphazard manner, both in the regular series and complementary books such as Tales of the TMNT and various one-shots and specials. Over time, an overall arc emerged, dealing with the turtles' enmity with the Foot, which is at the heart of the book's four major stories: the initial issue, which featured the Shredder's death; a two-parter which featured his return and the turtles' exile from New York; "Return to New York", in which the Shredder is killed off for real, and "City at War", which dealt with the aftermath. In between those stories, the book would focus on mostly stand-alone stories created either by Mirage employees themselves or guest creators. These stories would fluctuate wildly in tone and content. Several, particularly those by guest creators, now have dubious canonicity. This first series concluded with the aforementioned "City at War", which ended the Foot/Turtle conflict, introduced regular characters Karai and Shadow, and is considered by many to be the definitive TMNT story.

Advertisement:

Soon after, a second incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was born, written and drawn by long-time Mirage employee Jim Lawson, and, unlike the first volume, in full color. This second series featured the return of Baxter Stockman and Nobody, introduced government organization D.A.R.P.A., and Mr. Braunze, the mysterious man with psychic powers living in April's apartment building. However, the series proved short-lived, folding after only 13 issues.

The book was soon revived under a third volume, published by Image Comics as the official continuation of the Mirage continuity. It is mostly remembered for mutilating three out of the four turtles: Raph lost an eye and got various facial scarring; Leo lost a hand; and Don was so badly hurt he was forced to become a cyborg. Other notable events include Splinter's transformation into a bat-like creature; the introduction of Pimiko, a female ninja who was eventually revealed to be the Shredder's daughter; and the expansion of Shredder mantle to a full-blown legacy, with both Raphael and an unknown female (Karai, according to Word of God after the fact) taking on the identity. The series ended inconclusively with cancellation, and although it was subsequently removed from canon, nods to it would appear once in a while. It also saw two attempts at a proper ending - first a fan-made attempt in 2012 working from notes provided by the original team, and again in 2020, when the entire series was reprinted as "TMNT: Urban Legends", and original creative team Gary Carlson and Frank Fosco returned to publish three new, final issues, which wrapped up the story and (more or less) lined it up with later continuity.

Advertisement:

The year 2001 saw yet another version of the book, this time helmed by turtles co-creator Peter Laird. Fifteen years after the events of volume 2, the turtles have now returned to the sewers, Casey and April are now married, and Splinter lives in Northampton with Shadow, who is now a teenager. The Utroms have announced their existence to humanity and have opened Earth up to interstellar trade, meaning that the turtles can now live in the open. It has proven controversial, thanks in part to plots such as the death of Splinter and the revelation that April was not actually born, but rather a drawing come to life.

Midway through its run, the book was joined by a second incarnation of Tales of the TMNT, this time as an anthology book telling stories set through the turtles' lives, told by a variety of writers and artists.

In 2006, the regular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book ceased regular publication, thanks to Peter Laird's other duties, creative burn-out and the economic disincentives of publishing a money-losing book. While new issues are still being released once in a blue moon, Tales became the de facto main book until the series' cancellation and the sale of the TMNT property to Nickelodeon.

IDW Publishing (who has published other licensed Comic Books) has gained the rights for publishing Ninja Turtles comics, which include reprinting this series, though Mirage retains the rights to publish up to 18 new issues a year. This has made finding it easier than it ever was, so check them out if you're interested.

See also: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for information on the franchise in general.


The Mirage comic books series provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Hildagaard Rail in issue #30, from the story 'Sky Highway.' She was very well endowed but she resided in a dimension that mutated her to the point that she had a gigantic set of lips that took up most of the space on her face. The German woman took a liking to Raphael and gave him a long passionate kiss goodbye against his wishes.
  • Aborted Arc: Due to the Mirage series being discontinued, a number of plot points don't receive closure, including a story involving a group of villains interested in Splinter, and another featuring a ninja with a vendetta against Hamato Yoshi. Additionally, the character arcs of Leonardo being stuck in the Battle Nexus, Raphael undergoing a secondary mutation, Michelangelo being lost in space, Donatello being shrunken, and April finding out she's really a drawing come to life through Kirby's crystal remain unresolved.
  • Action Girl: Shadow Jones.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Volume 1 #11 is told from April's perspective, through her diary entries.
  • Alien Among Us: The Utroms
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Foot's attack on April's apartment.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Splinter to Stick, Raphael to Wolverine, the Foot for the Hand, the Justice Force to the Justice League of America
  • Alternate Universe: Several are shown throughout the series, such as the fantasy world from Donatello #1, the "Sky Highway" or the world of Usagi Yojimbo. Many of these universes are accessible through the Battle Nexus.
  • Anachronic Order: Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2 skips all around the timeline of the comics universe, with the primary intent of filling in the fifteen-year gap between TMNT Volumes 2 and 4, but also including stories set in the future or in the time frame of older stories.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Both the Michaelangelo and Leonardo micro-series see the Turtles having adventures during their Christmas festivities. The "Return to New York" three-part storyline is also set on Christmas, but this is only indicated by an easily-missed date on a newspaper.
  • Animal Nemesis: The feud between Oroku Nagi and Hamato Yoshi is taken up by Nagi's brother and Yoshi's pet rat, respectively. The Turtles themselves also become part of this, of course.
  • Antihero: Type III
  • Area 51: Site of a D.A.R.P.A. base.
  • Arms Dealer: Ruffington.
  • Art Evolution: Anyone who have read the comics can notice that the designs for the turtles gradually changes between each issue to where they look nothing like they were in the first issue
  • Art Initiates Life: In the Donatello micro-series, Don meets Kirby, an artist who's renting a room in the basement of April's building, who shows him a strange crystal he found that brings anything he draws to life if he attaches it to the pen. Anything drawn with it disappears after a few minutes, with the exception of a mysterious portal, which turns out to lead to a Masters of the Universe-type realm. And unfortunately, all the monsters Kirby's been drawing have been sent there when they disappeared.
    • One of the most controversial plot points of Volume 4 is that the crystal had once belonged to April's father, and she's actually a drawing brought to life.
  • Art Shift: Issue #8 of Volume 1, the crossover with Cerebus the Aardvark, is primarily drawn by Eastman and Laird as usual, but once the Turtles arrive in Cerebus' time, the background's are now drawn by Cerebus' background artist, Gerhard, and Cerebus himself is drawn by creator Dave Sim. Sim uses a distinctly different inking style that makes the aardvark stand out a bit from the rest of the artwork.
  • Artifact Title: As of vol. 4, the mutant ninja turtles are no longer teenagers.
  • Author Appeal: April was re-designed between her first and second appearance to resemble Kevin Eastman's real-life girlfriend.
  • Avenging the Villain: The reason behind the Foot's vendetta against the turtles.
  • Back from the Dead: The Shredder; Sloane, a werewolf friend of Shadow's.
  • Bad Future: The future of the TMNT universe, glimpsed in occasional Time Travel and Flash Forward stories, is a depressing place. The world has been destroyed by climate change, society has collapsed, strange radioactive monsters now litter the earth, and the Turtles have become estranged from each other for unclear reasons, with the implication that they will never see each other again. And in the rare moment they do see each other again during their later adulthood, it's only to gather together and mourn for Leonardo finding happiness but then having it cruelly snatched away due to him entering into a relationship with Radical, only for Complete Carnage to brutally murder her later on.
  • Beneath the Earth: Like all other versions, the New York sewer system features heavily in the series, being the Turtles original home. It's also one of the easiest ways for the Turtles to get around during the day.
  • Berserk Button: Steal or damage Casey's car in any way and he'll go nuts.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Volume 1, and the original TMNT series as a whole: New York is left damaged after the Foot Civil War, Gabrielle is dead and Casey is left a widower with an infant daughter to care for, April's father and Karai's daughter are dead, and Splinter has been badly injured and weakened from his experiences in the forest. But the Turtles have achieved a measure of peace with their past, the Foot Elite have been wiped out, ending the Shredder's legacy once and for all, and the Civil War is over. The characters begin to drift back to New York, and start to slowly mend their relationships and look toward the future.
  • Body Horror: Anyone who finds their way to the Sky Highway quickly begin to mutate into grotesque, Big Daddy Roth-esque caricatures of themselves, which can range from just bizarre (Hildagaard) to really, really ugly (Quake Butt, Diddy Wah Daddy, Casey in his mutated form), to outright inhuman (Bone Ugly). The Turtles aren't affected at all because they're already mutants. Ironically, the people who end up on the Sky Highway don't seem to mind their new appearance much, and the Mutato-Heads even decide to return there and become mutants again rather than return to their boring lives on Earth.
  • Black Sheep: Sid, Casey's cousin.
  • Blind and the Beast: Occurs with Raphael and an old woman in a one-shot special.
  • Brain in a Jar: Baxter Stockman, eventually.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • Volume 3.
    • Issues 22-26 and 29-44 of Volume 1.
  • Canon Immigrant: Hun, the Battle Nexus, Bishop via Word of God cameo (4Kids Cartoon); Cudley the Cowlick (Archie comics) and Charles Pennington (first movie) make up the short list.
  • Captain Ersatz: "Mr. Weasel" appears in the first Image story arc and is swiftly beheaded by Pimiko.
  • Child Soldier:
    • Oroku Saki began his training to avenge his brother's death at the age of seven. He took the identity of The Shredder, founded the New York branch of the Foot Clan and killed Hamato Yoshi at the age of 18.
    • The TMNT are only teenagers and have been training for years.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • When sent across the galaxy during the TCRI storyline, our heroes have absolutely no problem grabbing rayguns and opening fire on both human troops and aliens.
    • To return the favor, one of the Triceraton's read guard (with jetpacks, positioned to ambush pursuers), who is chasing the Turtles in an aircar, gets his comrade to distract them while he flies under the car and rips the guts out by hand. It's not exactly pragmatic, since he says he's doing it for style.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Lt. Gordon Miller, in late issues of Tales.
  • Convection Schmonvection: In the first issue, the thermite grenade that Shredder used in a failed suicide attack on the Turtles burned hot enough to vaporize his body apart from a few pieces of his armor, but nothing else in the alley where it went off showed any signs of fire damage. Donatello's bo fell into the alley with Shredder when the grenade went off, and wasn't even scorched (much less completely reduced to ash like it should have been) when Donatello collected it later.
  • Crossover:
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Baxter Stockman stood to make an entirely legal fortune from using his Mousers for their original purpose - killing mice and rats - and knew it. He then decided to task them for committing robberies and setting things up so he could blackmail the city For the Evulz.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Beginning with Oroku Nagi's death at Yoshi's hands, the entire conflict between the Turtles and the Foot revolves around this. Volume 3 also implies that Hamato Yoshi had other people looking for revenge against him, but this was never elaborated on.
  • Da Editor: Charles Pennington.
  • Dead All Along: During "City At War", an injured Splinter is trapped inside an old silo, and is constantly visited by The Rat King, and who's seemingly cruel and uncaring words end up helping Splinter not just to survive, but also untangle some of the difficulties he had been dealing with at the start of the story. After recovering enough to escape the silo, Splinter stumbles across the long-dead remains of the Rat King, having apparently died after the end of his encounter with the Turtles several years before.
  • Death by Childbirth: Occurred to Casey's first wife, Gabrielle.
  • Deus ex Machina: Employed surprisingly often.
  • Discontinuity Nod: The appearance of an Utrom called "Dr. X" in issues of Tales; the name had been used by an Utrom in the discarded volume 3.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The turtles themselves.
  • Dumb Blonde: Renet. She eventually matures beyond this.
  • Dying Alone: In Volume 4 Issue 10, Splinter dies of old age (presumably of heart failure, as he clutches his chest) while preparing a drink for himself. He is later found by Leonardo.
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference:
    • The turtles usually all scowled and all had the same colour headbands.
    • April was originally a brunette, not a redhead like she usually is. She was also vaguely raced until she was later made un-ambiguously white.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The overwrought narration from the first issue is gone by the second one, and never really appears again. Also, many elements of the TMNT mythos known to casual fans (Such as April's job as a reporter and the Turtles' pizza obsession and multicolored headbands) originated in the cartoons and the comic adaptation of the cartoons, and do not exist in this universe.
  • Elseworld: The Michael Zulli three-parter in the first series.
  • Enemy Civil War: After the Shredders second death, the New York Foot fractures into warring factions that end up turning New York into a warzone, leading to the "City At War" arc. Karai is sent by the Japanese main branch of the Foot to put an end to it.
  • Enemy Without/Grand Theft Me: Casey's darker self, which takes over a shapeshifting alien in an issue of Tales.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Lin, a member of the Foot Clan who has been seen helping out other parties for unknown reasons in later issues of Tales.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Oroku Saki became bitter and resentful after his older brother, Oroku Nagi, died at Yoshi's hand. He grew up to become the feared Shredder and killed Yoshi to avenge his brother. After Shredder is killed, his adoptive daughter Karai comes to New York.
  • Evil Overlord: Savanti Romero.
  • Fantastic Racism: A prominent theme in the series after aliens arrived on Earth.
  • Fantastic Voyage: In volume 4, thanks to Ultrom technology.
  • First Law of Resurrection: Eastman and Laird, not figuring that their comic would last past the first issue, killed off the Shredder by having his own grenade explode on him. Once they realized that they wanted him back, they had to resort to worm-based cloning to do so.
  • Fish People: Several.
  • Flying Brick: Nobody/The Herald.
  • For the Evulz: This is the reason why Baxter Stockman decided to use his Mousers for crime when he'd already made a legal fortune with them. Intersects with It Amused Me. He says he used them for crime "because it was fun!".
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Complete Carnage.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Committee to Restore American Patriotism, a.k.a., "C.R.A.P.".
  • The Future: Has played a part in several stories.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: Reporter Lauren Stanton, in the issue "Expose".
  • Golem: Featured in the Tales issue titled "Kaddish", with nods to the original Jewish legend.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: D.A.R.P.A., which is a M.I.B-style organization instead of what it actually is in real life.
  • Grand Finale: The "City at War" storyline was the epic conclusion to Volume 1, running for an entire year and thirteen whole issues, and depicting the final conflict between the Turtles and the Foot Clan. It was also the final Turtles story which both Eastman and Laird worked on together, making it a fitting end to the "Eastman and Laird's..." era.
  • Happily Adopted: Shadow, technically, since neither Casey nor April are her biological parents.
  • Heroic BSoD: Leo falls into a rough one in issue #11, still reeling over getting the shit kicked out of him by the Shredder and the Foot.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The covers of every issue until #50 were keen to remind you that it's Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, thank you very much.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Donatello's current status in the books.
  • Interspecies Romance: Michelangelo/Serilicus (Mutant Turtle/Styracodon); Leonardo/Radical (Mutant Turtle/Human)
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lauren Stanton in later issues of Tales.
  • Killed Off for Real: Splinter, Oroku Saki, Rat King, Baxter Stockman.
  • King of the Homeless
  • Knight Templars: A group of rogue Utroms called "The Illuminated", whose purpose is to eliminate all violent races from the universe.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Mr. Braunze does this to the turtles at the tail end of volume 2.
  • Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: The turtles themselves, who were trained by Splinter to eventually kill the Shredder.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Turtles' origin as shown in the very first issue of the comic has the canister of mutagen that mutated the Turtles hitting a young boy in the face before being exposed to the turtles. The boy is all but explicitly stated to be Matt Murdock at the time where he got blinded and started developing super senses.
  • Long-Lived: Stories that are set in the distant future show that all of the turtles live to be over a hundred years old. Since this is true of real turtles, it's something that the mutagen apparently didn't take away.
  • Love Triangle: Oroku Nagi, Hamato Yoshi and Tang Shen.
  • Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes: Raphael using Chinese butterfly knives to trim a Christmas tree. This scene made it into the 2000s TMNT cartoon.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Splinter receives one after his death.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: After the Utrom arrival on Earth.
  • Mistaken for Thief: While trying to smuggle the Turtles back to her apartment in #3, April is mistaken for a group of bank robbers because they happen to have the same van she does, so most of the issue is spent driving around New York trying to get away from the police. Despite being innocent, April can't risk stopping because the Turtles are hiding in the back of the van.
  • Mood Whiplash: A common occurrence in the long "guest artist" run of Vol. 1, and in Tales of the TMNT Vol 2, thanks to wildly different writers, artists, and stories.
  • The Mole: Lin, who was a Foot ninja under orders to infiltrate the NYPD as a detective.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Dome.
  • The Multiverse
  • Mythology Gag: Glimpses of the Turtles' futures in Volume 4 reveal that Raphael will one day lose his left eye. In the non-canon Volume 3, he already did.
  • Nested Story Reveal: One early issue, centered on Michaelangelo searching for his brothers in medieval Japan and ends up drawn into a rebellion against an evil lord, turns out to be a story he's been writing and showing to Klunk.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: The first issue of "City at War".
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: By the time "City At War" takes place, the characters have begun to drift apart, April moves to Los Angeles to be with her sister after their father dies, Casey becomes a drifter, Splinter exiles himself in the woods, and the Turtles find themselves adrift with no purpose. Meanwhile, the Foot civil war is tearing New York apart.
  • Off with His Head!: How The Shredder meets his final end at Leonardo's hands during the climax of "Return To New York". The Turtles takes his body with them and burns it on the Hudson to prevent the Foot from ever bringing him back again.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: After the Turtles are defeated by the Foot Clan and forced to leave New York, April notes in her diary that Michelangelo doesn't tell jokes or hang out with his brothers any more, instead staying in a barn by himself and working out obsessively.
  • Opening Monologue: Every issue of Tales begins with one, ending with the line "Let me tell you a story..."
  • Out of Focus: The Turtles themselves, especially in Volume 1, often take a back seat to their various guest characters.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Raphael does this a few times in the story arc "Body Count".
  • Posthumous Characters: The Hamato Yoshi/Tang Shen/Oroku Nagi trio. Professor Obligado.
  • The Professor: Professor Honeycutt, the Utrom Glurin.
  • Race Lift: While April's race was never established during the original comics, or even agreed upon by the creators, her issue #4 redesign gave her several features which coded her as a Woman of Color, which gradually went away.
  • Ret-Canon: A notable aversion. Despite the huge popularity of the '80s cartoon, the Mirage comics never adapted their own continuity to match it. Not until the 2000s did they bring in a handful of outside elements, and then only from the second cartoon — itself significantly Truer to the Text on the Mirage comic anyway.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The first issue is played surprisingly straight, featuring an origin story filled with murder, lust and revenge, and four identical turtles who scowl constantly, brutally cut down a gang of street thugs, and tell the Shredder to commit seppuku. Things get a lot less gritty from the second issue onwards, as the turtles gained more distinct personalities, a good amount of humor was introduced, and the antagonists moved away from street-level humans to more absurd stuff like mad scientists and aliens, although things did tend to get darker and more violent again whenever the Foot clan returned. One of the funnier issues, #8, ironically co-starred the actual Cerebus.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The antagonists from the volume 1 story "Survivalists".
  • Scars Are Forever: The turtles' mutilations in volume 3. Foot Ninja Cha Ocho sports a scar left by Leonardo.
  • Second Love: April, to Casey.
  • Self-Imposed Exile: In the backstory, Hamato Yoshi went on a self-imposed exile to New York after fellow Foot Clan member, Oroku Nagi, when he was defending his wife, Tang Shen from Nagi's jealous wrath which permanently disgraced him from his position in the Clan. Shen accompanied him.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: After the events of "Return To New York", the Turtles grow increasingly listless and frustrated, since their entire lives had been spent training and preparing to face The Shredder, and with his death, they lose all sense of purpose. Made worse by the fact that since they're not human and have to live in hiding, they can't even build normal lives for themselves. This finally comes to a head in "City At War".
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Played up to a ridiculous degree with April in issue #14 of Vol. 1. The villain of the issue grabs her by the upper arm, and this makes her so helpless that she doesn't even try to struggle or escape when she's gagged (not bound, just gagged) and then taken away.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: When Baxter Stockman uses his Mousers to hold the city at ransom, the genius chooses the Retxab building as his first victim. Presumably also a Shout-Out to the Fantastic Four's headquarters.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Michaelangelo. Spelled that way because Eastman and Laird didn't look up how to spell "Michelangelo."
  • Temporary Blindness: Subverted in the "Blind Sight" arc.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: During the assault on the Foot compound in "Return to New York," Raph has gone off the deep end and is out for the Shredder's blood, separating from the rest of his brothers intending to take him down himself. However part way through he's ambushed by Saki's elite guards and it's only Leo's intervention that saves his life. Raph acknowledges that Leo — whom Shredder nearly killed in Leonardo #1, and after Raph called him a coward in part 1 — falls back to help Mike and Don, allowing Leo to face Saki himself.
  • Time Skip:
    • Volume 4 takes place roughly fifteen years after the previous canonical volume.
    • Several issues in, the series jumps another six months ahead to show how things have changed since the Utroms unveiled themselves to humanity.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Tsundere: Princess Serilicus.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Volume 1 issue 11, released in June of 1987, begins in January of that year, before working its way through the following months to the then-present.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The basic structure of "City at War", with separate storylines for the Turtles, April, Casey and Splinter.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Between Battling Bernice and her daughter Ananda.
  • Underground Comics: Ironically, this series started off as a self-published independent comic that was gritty and violent...before it became what it is now.
  • The Unmasqued World: After the Utroms open up Earth to alien commerce.
  • Tulpa: April O'Neil, surprisingly.
  • Vague Age: Karai, who was old enough to have a teenaged daughter when introduced, and yet looks no older than 45 after the fifteen-year Time Skip.
  • Volleying Insults: Casey and Raph do this in issue #11 of the original book, in a scene that was later adapted to the movie.
  • Weirdness Magnet: This is true of every version of the TMNT, but—especially taking all the random back-up stories into account—the Mirage Turtles really cannot go five minutes without being attacked by aliens or sent to another dimension.
  • Western Terrorists: The Committee to Rebuild American Patriotism, the antagonist group in Volume 1 #12.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Raphael almost kills Mikey in an early issue.
  • William Telling: The turtles do this as a form of training... and to make fruit salads for their picnics.
  • Winged Humanoid: Raptarr.
  • Wounded Hero, Weaker Helper: Issue #10 sees Leonardo having been severely wounded by the Foot in the previous issue, and with the other Turtles busy fending them off, Splinter and April are left to drag him to safety on their own.

Alternative Title(s): Mirage Studios

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report