TMNT: To Know Where You’re Headed, You Gotta Know Where You Came From

Ok, so here’s the deal, there used to be these ninjas right and they were all bothers, 4 of them to be precise and stories of them have been being told for almost 3 decades now. Oh and they are also turtles. Still with me right ? Good.  Unless you have been living in the sewers for a good part of the 90’s  of course you know I’m talking about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,  and like any good 90’s child you know that they are simply awesome.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are making a comeback this year in a big way. A new cartoon has just aired and even through its only 3 episodes into its season it’s getting some pretty good reviews. There are new action figures out with some of the most detailing I have ever seen on a turtle. (Living or plastic) Also if you’ve been following any of the news coming out of the New York Comic Con this week you would be aware that LEGO will be making a TMNT set  for release in early 2013. Making it the first LEGO set that I will own as an adult.  You also might have heard of a new live action movie being made with director Michael Bay attached but we wont get into that one right now that’s a discussion for another blog post or a ranty podcast.  The point is the turtles are back and that got me thinking about how it all began. As you may or may not know the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were not always the wise cracking pizza eating ninjas we all know and love. They started out with much darker DNA. I went back to the original source material, a comic created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird two struggling artists back in 1983, to really get a good understanding of who these turtles are or at least who they were when they were created.

The original comic was penned in black and white and was only meant to be a single issue. The art style in this comic as seen from the picture above was crude yet some what fitting for the tone of the story. This was a story of revenge. 4 ninjas seeking revenge on a gang leader who killed their masters’ teacher. The story had so much depth, and was nice to see the how the actually origin story played out, which was vital in explaining why the turtles are here and why they seek to defeat the one knows as The Shredder. The world that these turtles lived in felt like the dark underbelly of New York a place you wouldn’t want to walk late at night. I would almost go as far as to say that it even had a little bit of a Frank Miller style feel to it.

During my time reading this comic I couldn’t put it down. It has been a while since I was so captivated by the story telling in a comic. One other thing to mention is that the turtles in this comic all looked identical, the only way to tell them apart was by their weapons. Even after color was added to the comics when additional issue’s where made all the turtles had red masks unlike the red, blue, purple and orange ones that we are now accustom to. I admit that all though I was aware that the TMNT started out as a comic with a sinister tone to it, I neglected to seek out and read this comic for the fear that it could change how I felt about the campy, wise cracking, pizza loving turtles that I grew up with. It actually had the reverse effect. Learning about the original TMNT made me love these characters even more. You can be sure that I will continue to read these classic TMNT comics, and if you never have I suggest you check them out  too. You wont be disappointed.

-Tony-

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