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TMNT Comics I’m Thankful For

by Dan Gehen

Tis the season to give thanks, and I can’t think of a better way than to curl up on the couch with a mug full of hot cider – perhaps a slice of jellybean and mushroom pizza too – and enjoy these books for which I am thankful exist.

“Return to New York” (Mirage Studios)

The favorite story of co-creator Kevin Eastman, “Return to New York” is not only the most adapted story in the TMNT canon, but is arguably the best. Following defeat and a recovery period in Northampton, MA, the Turtles return home with eyes on settling the score with Shredder.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes: Official Movie Adaptation (Mirage Studios/Archie Comics)

Like many, I consider the first Ninja Turtles movie from 1990 to be the best of their big-screen efforts. It strikes the perfect balance between the goofy, kid-friendly cartoon with the darker comics from Mirage. And while comic book adaptations for movies tend to be bad, this one is an exception to the rule. With a heavyweight creative team of Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Eric Talbot, and Jim Lawson, this adaptation is just as good as the movie  – if not better.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC Comics/IDW Publishing)

According to my parents, the two phrases said the most as child were “Cowabunga, dude!” and “I’m Batman!” Naturally, when IDW announced a deal with DC Comics for a miniseries starring both the Heroes in a Half-Shell and the Dark Knight, I was beyond excited. The fact that this story didn’t disappoint but rather proved to be one of the best inter-company crossovers in recent memory is a testament to the quality of James Tynion IV’s writing and the art from Freddie Williams II.

TMNT Vol.4 #10-11 (Mirage Studios)

I love “Return to New York,” but in a way I get even more enjoyment in reading the story that preceded it in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #10-11. Not only to the Turtles (and the reader) receive a shock at the sight of a surprisingly resurrected Shredder, but they also get the beatdown of their life. With Leonardo incapacitated (more on that later), the Turtles, Splinter, April, and Casey are in the fight for their lives. The aftermath is a memorable examination of how this experience has affected each one of them. This is the Mirage series at its best.

Secret History of the Foot Clan (IDW Publishing)

The IDW series has seen a ton of one-shots and miniseries which tie into the main narrative, but perhaps none has made the impact or possessed the quality of Secret History of the Foot Clan. Written and illustrated by fan-favorite Mateus Santolouco, this miniseries dives deep into the history of Oroku Saki and his rise to power as leader of the Foot Clan. While it sounds straightforward, it is anything but as its events tie in directly to the epic story arc “City Fall.”

Savage Dragon / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Image Comics)

This isn’t a very good comic. It doesn’t even work as a crossover very well. So why is it here? Because this was the first time I ever saw the TMNT in a comic book, opening up my eyes to the world of Ninja Turtles comics.

Usagi Yojimbo #1-3 (Mirage Studios)

Some of the most beloved episodes of the 1987 and 2003 animated series are those guest starring Stan Sakai’s rabbit ronin. But even better than those are the initial issues of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series, which featured appearances by the TMNT. Even as Sakai brought his creation over to Dark Horse, and with the Turtles at IDW, fans still hold out hope for another crossover between these two. At least we have the first one to read over and over again.

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1 comment

Rob Veatch November 30, 2016 - 8:34 pm

Right on Dan! My list of favorites would be almost identical. Did you mean vol. 1, #10 & 11? Instead of vol. 4?

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