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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". The story 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. Meanwhile, the Mexican publisher Division Comics published the series in Mexico, but it eventually spun-off into a new comic with original stories, still taking the stories they reprinted as canon. A similar thing happened with Fleetway in the UK, but these original stories never really became their own canon.
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)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures provides examples of:
- Action Girl: April, Ninjara, several others.
- 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.
- Brain In a Jar: Hitler.
- Canon Foreigner: This being TMNT, a ton.
- Canon Immigrant: Cudley the Cowlick, as well as the idea of April becoming a martial artist herself.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The series went from having a tone similar to the cartoon to becoming second only to the Mirage comics in seriousness (well, until 2003, that is). It remains the darkest thing Archie has ever published (tied with Ken Penders's era of Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna).
- Tropes Are Not Bad. This comic was easier to come across than the Mirage series, and being edgier than the cartoon while staying lighthearted at times was attractive.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Hitler's brain.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Null.
- Da Editor: Murdock Maxwell, in the first April mini-series.
- The Future: We eventually get a glimpse of the Earth one hundred years in the future.
- The Grays: The Sons of Silence.
- Green Aesop
- Heel Face Turn: Ninjara, who had been sent to kill the turtles. Also, Leatherhead, and to a certain extent Slash.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Slash.
- Interspecies Romance: This version of Raph had a thing for fox-ladies, romancing one and eventually marrying another. Also, Candi Fine continued her relationship with Mondo Gecko even after he'd turned into a mutant.
- Killed Off for Real: The Mighty Mutanimals, Slash, Maligna, Null.
- 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.
- Mecha-Mooks: Aside from the Foot Ninja, Null also uses a quartet of robotic mercenaries to kill the Mutanimals.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Sarnath
- Must Have Nicotine: Oyuki Mashimi, for the duration of the first April mini-series.
- Non-Lethal Warfare
- 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 inexplicably wore an all-black ninja body suit.
- Not inexplicably – he himself explained that it was so he could better blend into the shadows, then the Turtles were transported away from New York and had to spend a half-dozen issues before they finally got back.
- 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.
- 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.
- Recursive Adaptation
- Ret Canon: Future Raph's look eventually made its way into the Mirage comics.
- 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.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory
- Robotic Reveal: Occurs with Null's mercenaries during the "Terracide" arc.
- Rogues Gallery
- Scars Are Forever
- Sixth Ranger: Ninjara.
- Spin-Off: 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.
- Temporary Blindness: Happened to Michelangelo for several issues.
- Timey-Wimey Ball
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The year 2094.
- Vaporware: "The Forever War"
- 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.