On the 13th of June I turned 30, I’m not dealing with this so instead I decided to both ignore and celebrate me lasting so long by writing a whole bunch of top 30 countdown lists.
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15. Turtles in Space
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 1 Episodes 25-26, Season 2 Episodes 1- 5 (4Kids Entertainment, 2003)
Written by Greg Johnson, Michael Ryan, Eric Luke & Marty Isenberg
Wha’appen? The Turtles' search for their sensei Splinter leads them to the TCRI building. Their attack on it doesn’t go quite to plan, mostly because TCRI is a front for aliens called Utroms, they do have Splinter though. During the battle the TMNT accidentally set off a transmat, a teleporter they’re standing on, and end up teleported across the universe and wind up befriend Professor Honeycutt alias the Fuigtoid – who’s wanted by the humanoid Federation the dinosaur-men of the Triceraton Republic because he knows how to build a Teleportal, and both sides want it for its military advantage.
Why? Given the sheer amount of adaptations in the 4Kids cartoon the law of averages was on the side of there being an episode/set of episodes on this list that adapted a story that wasn’t also on this list: that wound up being Turtles in Space. Why? Because it makes the comic book version completely redundant, it’s actually a very faithful adaptation but it also expands on the story greatly, spreading it over 7 episodes to give us more time, more time to see D’Hoonib, more time to develop characters like Mohzar, Blanque, Zanramon and even the Fugitoid, more time to get across the feeling of being trapped in the Triceraton games, more time with Triceraton culture and the addition of Traximus, he might just be Russel Crowe as a dinosaur but he’s awesome none the less – and does all of this without sacrificing pacing, the arc never feels too long to me, despite the fact that it’s over 2 hours all together. In summary this does everything the original comic does, and everything the original comic should have done and would have done.
14. Night of the Rogues
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 7, Episode 6 (Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, 1993)
Written by David Wise
Wha’appen? While Krang goes about the plot of the episode, Shredder finally has enough of Bebop and Rocksteady and decides to form a new group of underlings – recruiting The Rat King, Scumbug, Slash, Anthrax, Tempestra and Leatherhead and rebuilds Chrome Dome. With the Turtles Forced to retreat the Rogues Gallery use their heads and draw them out by attacking locations in New York, with no choice the TMNT respond, are captured and Splinter is forced to recruit his own ‘replacement team’ – Zach the Fifth Turtle, Casey Jones, April and Irma.
Why? Because everyone comes across really well, Shredder finally gives up using two morons and recruits proven quantities (well, in-universe, this is Scumbug and Anthrax’s first appearances in the show); Bebop & Rocksteady prove their superior qualities – brute strength and loyalty; the Rogues are shown as incredibly formidable making the Turtles fleeing actually seem the right decision – in fact only Chrome Dome is actually defeated in combat (by Master Splinter), the rest split when they realise they’re not getting paid – the Turtles go into a trap knowing it’s a trap but go anyway because it’s the right thing to do; Casey Jones attacks an 8-foot robot with a hockey stick; Master Splinter figures out how to defeat said robot despite being a three foot rat armed only with a walking stick and ninjitsu and backed up by three humans with no skill and a madman with sports equipment, none of which are very useful against 8-foot robots; fuck me even Zach’s useful – twice; April’s a useful source of information and, well Irma’s the least useful but she’s not annoying. Also all of the jokes succeed, Raphael is particularly enjoyable this episode which means a lot coming from me as I hate this version of Raphael. The downsides are two: Townsend Coleman is voicing Shredder and he’s pretty awful at times (which is a shame because otherwise the voice acting’s great, even Zach’s less annoying than usual) and the human/mutant working together moral mean we don’t get to see local mutants like Muckman, Mutagen Man or Mondo Gekco in Splinter’s team9.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 1, Episodes 25-26 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 2013)
Written by Joshua Sternin & J.R. Ventimilia
Wha’appen? The Kraang are ready for the invasion that is known as the Invasion of Earth, bringing the Technodrome forth from Dimension X to mutate the planet, but the Turtles are confident, after all they need April (basically as a stabilising agent) and they don’t have her, so they go to take down TCRI and succeed, but they’re too late and the Technodrome has arrived (and in this canon, can fly). To make matters worse almost as soon as they’re gone The Shredder, via a mind controlled Kirby O’Neil, has kidnapped April and successfully lured Splinter to his base of operations, and now Splinter is here, he has given Miss O’Neil over to his partners who are the partners that are known as The Kraang. So while Splinter and Shredder duel for the first time since the fire that irreparably changed both their lives the TMNT need to infiltrate a flying battle station, destroy said flying battle station, save April and fend off the giant Kraang Prime. Easy, right?
Why? A good finale shouldn’t just tie up plot points from the season (and tease some for the next), it should be one big line of “Fuck Yeah!” moments, be they awesome acts of bravery or touching quiet moments of reflection or everything in between, they should make you say – in some context or another – fuck yeah, and preferably give at least one of these moments to each of the major characters, and most of all it should feel like a satisfying resolution. Showdown does all of this. While everyone does get a great moment (Raphael gets multiple, my favourite being his method of ‘distracting’ some Kraang, though kicking Kraang Prime in the face is also pretty awesome) the episode really belongs to Leonardo and Splinter, which is fine because this show has the best versions of both characters in the franchise’s history. Leo shows he’s willing to give his life to save his team – twice – and Splinter shows us how awesome he is and indeed how human he is, he has a fucking panic attack when he realises he’s going to have to face the Shredder (the episode also has April confront Splinter about why he never goes topside to help his sons, something that really needs to be brought up more than it is). To make things better this a finale solely based around the most iconic of Turtles villains – The Shredder and Krang (or Kraang Prime) – indulging in their most iconic plots – a duel with Splinter and getting the Technodrome out of somewhere to wreak havoc (with the additional bonus of the Technodrome ending up stuck at the bottom of somewhere), with a spattering of fan favourites like General Tragg, Metalhead, The Mousers and Karai, so I suppose the story is best if viewed through the eyes of someone who’s been with the franchise for a long time and knows a lot about it but it serves as a fantastic finale for the first season as well, and introduces the new kids to more iconography that we old bastards have known and loved for years - oh and Raph dances at the end, it is brilliant.
12. Insane in the Membrane
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 4, Episode 19 (4Kids Entertainment, 2006)10
Written by Matthew Drdek
Wha’ppen? Against Agent Bishop’s advice, Baxter Stockman – now reduced to a brain a robot body – clones himself new body and via ‘cerebral transfer’ is flesh once more. But that flesh is dissolving and as his body degrades Stockman’s mind is going with it, hallucinating about his mother and finally going off the deep end, now resembling a zombie-cum-Frankenstein’s-monster he decides to make April O’Neil pay because his broken mind has deduced that she is responsible for his life going down the toilet.
Why? The sorta-infamous banned episode that Fox Kids wouldn’t let air because it was ‘too graphic’, and yeah it really is pretty graphic, and terrifying, but it’s also fantastic. 4Kids Baxter Stockman is easily the best Baxter Stockman, Laird’s embargo on using anyone who wasn’t original or from the Mirage comics lead to Baxter being used far more than he ever had been before and thus far more developed than he had been before, and while he was still a looser (with a macabre running gag of Shredder lopping off more and more of his body parts) he wasn’t a joke or a dork but a serious scientist and often a legitimate threat, this episode gives us a rather tragic look into one of the franchises favourite butt-monkeys, at what it’s like to grow up to be a failure – to remember a time when you were going to be a success and remember the people who thought you great and destined for great things, in this case his mum (I can relate), it’s kinda weirdly powerful – and then there’s a long horror movie style chase and battle with a man who’s rotting and completely bonkers, always a good thing. A tragic and tense episode that proves that Stockman is a character worth respecting even if he never got any respect in-universe.
11. Get Shredder / Wrath of the Rat King
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 8, Episodes 1-2 (Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, 1994)
Written by Tony Love
Wha’ppen? Scrambling around after the loss of the Technodrome Krang, Shredder, Bebop & Rocksteady their plan to utilize the derelict Hall of Science at the abandoned World’s Fair is interrupted by the Turtles and Krang’s old weapons designer Berserko (who’s using the same building!) believing the TMNT are holding Krang (it’s Berserko) Shredder holds the Channel 6 building to ransom. With the Channel 6 building in rubble Burne Thompson starts a propaganda war against the Ninja Turtles causing them to doubt themselves, Shredder recruits The Rat King and Krang has The Rock Soldiers send him the Shockwave, a weapon he can’t use without a body but will still grant him incredible power. The turtles find faith in themselves by the end and put The Rat King in prison and the Shockwave in pieces but the Channel 6 building is gone, the Turtles are wanted criminals, Burne and Vernon have turned on them and April has been fired, and Shredder & Co are still out there.
Why? The Red Skies have arrived, and that means a massive upswing in quality when it comes to writing, animation, logic and the threat posed by the villains. Shredder becomes the monster he should be, blowing up the Channel 6 building even though the Turtles bring Krang to him, just because they were late and the Rat King has all the presence of his Mirage counterpart (and is actually a far larger threat than that Rat King). This two-parter really feels like the last hurrah for the show, it isn’t – Shredder and Krang will be responsible for this season’s finale and they’ll be two more seasons (and Shredder & Krang will be return in those too) – but the inclusion of the Rat King and the Channel Six crew (who’ll both be gone by the time the finale of this season starts) and the larger roles of Bebop, Rocksteady and April (April isn’t even IN the finale this season I think) make it feel more like a finale than the actual finale and not just that, but a finale that’s also the story featuring these characters that we always deserved.
10. Return to New York
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues 19-21, Tales of the TMNT issue 70 (Mirage Studios, 1989 /2010)
Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Eric Talbot, Jim Lawson
Wha’appen? Frustrated and having defeated Leonardo in a physical fight over his plan, Raphael returns to New York to hunt The Foot and kill The Shredder, who seemingly returned from the dead and drove them out of the city. His rather fruitless quest takes an unforeseen but positive turn when he encounters Zog, an insane and hallucinating Triceraton driven mad by living in Earth’s atmosphere, and he knows where a Foot Clan base is. Pretending to his Commander Zoraph Rapahel is able to order him around, and when his brothers catch up with him they use him to locate and then launch a full scale attack on the Foot HQ, and once they’ve put down the Shredder Mutants and reached the man himself, heads will roll11
Why? The story was already good enough to make my top 10 before they released Tales of the TMNT 70 to remove the only real complaint I had with Return to New York by showing us Raphael taking command of Zog. As to why it’s so good? Well it’s a Mirage story written by Eastman and Laird that has Triceratons, the Foot and The Shredder all in one violent (and actually pretty emotional) blockbuster; it has one of the best Leonardo/Raphael fights in the franchise, in fact until the TMNT CGI film came out I’d say it WAS the best and it has one of the best Turtle/Shredder fights in the franchise, so why is it number 10? Because it’s filled with great stuff with great art and great writing buuut there are stories I personally like more.
09. Krang War
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 5 issues 17-20 (IDW Publishing 2013)
Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Ben Bates
Wha’appen? With Rock Soldiers marching on their capital city, the Neutrino royal family dispatch their best soldiers – Dask, Zak and Kala – to retrieve the Fugitoid from Earth, just as April, Casey and four hidden TMNT are grilling him (in his human disguise as ‘Chet’) about unrelated matters. Of course the Turtles end up teleported to Dimension X and Planet Neutrino and of course they end up involved in an assault on Krang to rescue the kidnapped King and Queen, especially as Michaelangelo is now infatuated with Princess Tribble. So as Raphael and Zak lead a frontal assault and Doantello and Fugitoid work to come up with a contingency plan, Leonardo, Donatello, Tribble, Dask and Kala break into the old palace for an inevitable confrontation with General Krang.
Why? Because it is everything I wanted from a serious re-imagining of these concepts, in fact it is just about everything I would have done if given the chance (though I would have kept the Neutrino’s hepcat dialect I think) with the Neutrinos as resistance fighters and Krang as the massive physical threat (and a Utrom) actually, if you read Krang’s dialect in Pat Fraley’s voice you find they did a good job of keeping his character pretty much intact even while he’s being stone cold badass (though he’s less funny, but then everything is less funny in IDW). This leads to an excellent TMNT vs Krang & The Rock Soldiers battle with a fantastic confrontation with Krang himself (though sadly only with Leo and Mikey) which we just don’t see enough of. It’s not 110% perfect (Kala really doesn’t have a personality) but it’s so bloody tailored to me it’s in my top 10.
08. Dinosaur Seen in Sewers! / Annihilation: Earth
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3, Episodes 24-26 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 2015)
Written by Todd Casey and Brandon Auman
Wha’appen? When Slash and Dr Falco are beaten by a thought mythical ‘dino man’ Raphael is able to calm him by pretending to be his commander 'Zoraph' and seeing a chance for to have an attack dinosaur, takes it. Figuring out his insane ramblings – caused by being unable to breath properly in Earth’s atmosphere – Raphael deduces the Kraang are back and his dino-man is Zog from the Triceraton Empire, an enemy of the Kraang. Using Zog the TMNT are able to track the Kraang to their base in the Statue of Liberty and help Zog recover his gear and his mind – a terrible mistake, Zog is determined to send a message to his race to destroy Earth now it’s infested with Kraang and is willing to sacrifice his life to do it. The Turtles’ confidence that they’ve stopped an invasion of super strong dino men is ruined by the arrival of a Utom named Bishop, who tells them that the Triceratons are on their way with a black hole generator at the same time as Kraang Prime and
Iago Kraang Sub-Prime resurrect the
Technodrome. As Captain Mozar’s forces prepare to launch their machine the
Turtles, Casey & April, Splinter The Mighty Mutanimals, Muckman, Mondo
Gecko, The Shredder, The Foot, Fishface & Rahzer, Tiger Claw and Bebop
& Rocksteady all stand against the invading dinosaurs but all still seems
lost, and in his final moments Shredder decides to finally take his revenge,
regardless of whether Splinter is making the last-minute dive to prevent the
Earth from being destroyed or not. Oh and Fugitoid – and he’s voiced by The
Why? Fun fact, my favourite TMNT villains are the Triceratons and from the moment I finished watching Annihilation: Earth Part 2 I knew that this arc had replaced Turtles in Space (4Kids version) as my favourite Triceraton story even though that’s only half because of the Triceratons. Dinosaur Seen in Sewer is all about the Triceraton element (well that and all the good jokes about the finale of Crognard), it adapts a favourite part of one of my favourite Turtles stories obviously but it also gives us something we never got to clearly see before, Zog (as an identified character) in full control of his senses and, well, he’s a villain because the Triceratons are villains, I actually made the actual squee noise when that happened. Annihilation: Earth (which is parts 2 & 3 of the story, I dunno why they named part 1 different) though has its appeal in the fact that even after multiple viewings I still can’t believe they’d do it, what is ‘it’? Pretty much everything – I can’t believe they make the Triceratons such a threat (sure they were threat before but they never destroyed our planet before), I can’t believe they killed off Kraang Prime and Kraang Sub-Prime, I can’t believe they’d allow Shredder to remain in character and do what we knew Shredder would always do if he had the chance – kill Splinter and everyone else be damned, I can’t believe they destroy the Earth and I can’t believe they got one of my favourite actors to voice Fugitoid! Pile on top of that all kinds of great ‘finale’ moments like a huge team-up, awesome entrances and the sacrifice of the Turtle Blimp (my favourite vehicle), the debut of this version of Bishop, and Casey Jones (who wasn’t in Showdown) and this has to be in the top 10. My complaints are twofold: they didn’t unleash Mutagen Man despite him being stored in their lair and they made Muckman look like a chump – I’ll buy Mondo Gecko getting his arse kicked (even if don’t like it) because he was set up as a pathetic fighter in Meet Mondo Gecko but Muckman was pretty formidable in The Noxious Avenger, it’s a shame is all, because I really like Muckman and I should think, no demand, that everyone who had his toy as a kid feels the same way.
07. Fifteen Years Later…
Turtle Soup Volume 2 issue 4 (Mirage Studios, 1992)
A.C. Farley, Richmond Lewis
Wha’appen? On their way to battle The Foot the TMNT momentarily run into a city worker Raphael thinks he recognises, little do they know that this is Chet, the boy who bought them and lost them down the sewer and have, after 15 years of guilt and nightmares they’ve just given him peace
Why? This is four pages long but it makes me want to cry, but in a good way; Mirage was the only universe where the Turtles got to meet their original owner, albeit ignorant to the fact they’ve just run into their previous ‘dad’ and at the location where Splinter found them no less. It turns out Chet’s been having nightmares about the Turtles, seemingly sharing a basic psychic link (a result of the Mutagen maybe? Did he get a drop or two on him?) which is a bit of a convenience but it does stop him seeming unrealistically obsessed with four turtles he lost the day he bought them and seeing Chet ‘reunited’ with THE tank and then his turtles is just so wonderful. The story basically succeeds via what it doesn’t say and do as much as it does, letting you figure out what’s going on and becoming heart-warming but slightly sad at the same time, the TMNT never knew who they met, but Chet did.
06. Tale of the Yokai
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3, Episode 20 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 2015)
Written by Brandn Auman
Wha’appen? After helping Renet stop Savante Romero in medieval England the TMNT are caught in a time storm and find themselves 15 years before their present, in Japan, in the days leading up to the fire that cost Homato Yoshi (Splinter) his wife and daughter and transformed Oroku Saki into The Shredder.
Why? We’ve seen stories set before the death of Tang Sheng before (4Kids did one, for instance) but none as good as this and none who fleshed out the Pre-Shredder Saki, the Pre-Splinter Yoshi and pre-bled to death Tang Sheng so well as this. We get a Homato Yoshi who isn’t perfect and pure, we get a Shredder that’s almost sympathetic and a Tang Sheng who’s actually a character and we get the Turtles interacting with all of them – I’m not sure we’ve ever seen the TMNT interact with Tang Sheng before this. If I’ve mentioned Splinter’s late wife a lot so far this it's just that she’s one of the major reasons I like this episode so much, Sheng is SO important to a lot of TMNT backstories but she’s never really much more than a prop for Saki and Yoshi to feud over and for Splinter to avenge but here she’s an actual person with flaws and inner conflict and a personality and everything and she’s really attractive, watching this makes me understand why both men would fight over her, she’s great. The Turtles pretty much run through the standard time travel plot points – change, can’t change, try and keep things unchanged, end up keeping things the same – but this is all new to them and the shock and emotion they display feels very genuine and just seeing them interact with these people who they’ve heard about so much but never actually met (in any incarnation? They’ve interacted with de-mutated Splinter before but have they ever met them in the past?), these three people have defined the course of their lives since they mutated after all.
05. Everyone Versus Bebop & Rocksteady
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 5 issues 39-40 (IDW Publishing, 2014)
Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow Tom Waltz, Mateus Santolouco
Wha’appen? With Donatello avoiding his brothers due to sub-plots, Splinter, Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Raphael meet up with Old Hob and his fledgling Mighty Mutanimals (Slash, Mondo Gecko, Pigeon Pete and Herman the Hermit Crab) because of sub-plots. All goes to plan until Pete arrives with his two potential recruits – Bebop and Rocksteady. Despite the reveal, Old Hob at least tries to recruit them until he finds out they’re half human, deals with this by shooting them and thus the battle begins.
Why? Because it’s a two-issue battle with Bebop & Rocksteady and not just any Bebop & Rocksteady but IDW’s Bebop & Rocksteady, easily the best versions of the characters. The huge and completely awesome battle that follows, that also draws in Nobody (Angel in this universe) and Alopex, has everyone who isn’t a mutant pig or rhino unleashing everything in their arsenal while said pig and rhino crack jokes and don’t even break a sweat, in fact the only time the two aren’t downright jovial is when Rocksteady’s concerned about contracting rabies from Alopex because he hates needles and what we’re left with is both the best Bebop & Rocksteady story and the best advert for the two characters – want a reason why people like these two so much that isn’t based solely on nostalgia? Read this two-parter; they are put over perfectly, they’re very funny, daft as arseholes and damn near unstoppable, wonderfully it’s Splinter and Mondo Gecko that deal the most damage to them during the fight, the two smallest and physically weakest characters, by electrocuting them with power lines, but even plugging them into a city doesn’t stop them, Herman has to drop a building on the bastards to keep them down long enough for the characters to escape, hell the final way they beat these two (many arcs later) was by having them take each other down. This is pure fun and pure awesome, the only downside is Santolouco because I hate the way he draws the Turtles’ heads, they look like squashed Baby All-Gone or something.
04. Return of the Shredder
Leonardo issue 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue 10-11 (Mirage Studios, 1986)
Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Mike Dooney (with Steve Bissette and Ryan Brown)
Wha’appen? Christmas Eve, as the Turtles, April and Splinter prepare the tree and turkey, Leonardo is ambushed by the Foot while out exercising and beaten half to death by them and a returned Shredder, a man who supposed to be dead. Thrown through the skylight of April O’Neil’s store Second Time Around Leonardo heralds the return of the Turtles most recognisable enemy as the ambush continues throughout the flat and the junk shop below, luckily the Turtles and friends have a Deux Ex Machina, or should I say a Deux Ex Goongala – Casey Jones is here to save the day?
Why? Eastman and Laird did a pretty good job aping their inspiration/object of parody Frank Miller’s skill for fight scenes right from the start but they perfected it with the first two parts of this arc, as such there’s not a great deal of dialogue going on in this story, especially the first part (there is some, and nearly all of it fine and dandy) but it’s all the better for it, why would ninjas be bantering when they’re trying to kill each other? Instead we start the story with a perfectly laid out and ‘timed’ battle with Leonardo coming across as perhaps the most competent he has ever looked and when you figure that he’s easily the most competent ninja on the team and is always shown to be so that’s some accolade, we then get the big fun fight, perhaps the fight that most people think of when they think ‘Ninja Turtles’ – puns, banter but good action – as the three remaining Turtles and Casey Jones battle through Second Time Around, my favourite being ‘Mr Foot meet Mr Fist’, so we get two kinds of fight and they’re both great, superbly ‘choreographed' and brilliantly (and moodily) illustrated by Eastman, Laird and their friend Zip-a-Tone. To wrap things up we get a lovely focus issue on April O’Neil that doesn’t involve her being kidnapped, instead she just deals with what’s happened and narrates the fall-out as the Turtles recover in Northampton12. This top 10 is kind of shaping up to being a list of ‘The best X story’ from the franchise – we’ve had the best Krang story, the best Bebop & Rocksteady story, the best Triceraton story and then in this case we have the best Leonardo story, the best Foot story and the best April story.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures Volume 2 issue 55-57 (Archie Comics, 1994)
Stephen Murphy (as Dean Clarrain), Chris Allan (with John' D'Agostino, Eric Talbot & Brian Thomas)
Wha’appen? The Mighty Mutanimals are dead – Mondo Gecko, Man-Ray, Leatherhead, Jagwar, Dreadmon, Wingnut and Screwloose have been gunned down by Null’s Gang of Four13, the Future Turtles’ Raphael and Donatello have arrived too late and Null has changed the past, now he intends to go one further, killing the present TMNT, Splinter and Ninjara and then destroying time, why? Because he’s Satan and that’s what Satan likes to do. Allied with Maligna and her insect aliens and Null having turned Candy Fine (Mondo Gecko’s girlfriend) into his new concubine it’s Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello14, the two Future Turtles, Splinter, Ninjara and Slash (the last Mutanimal standing) versus four robots with dead bodies grafted to them, an invading alien race and the devil himself.
Why? Holy shit, Archie TMNT’s darkest story and its biggest triumph, let’s just restate the set up shall we – 8 anthropomorphic animals versus four heavily armed robots, an alien race and THE DEVIL – the stakes are high, I believe anyone can die and unlike a modern crossover event I believe they just might be major characters – again Leatherhead is dead, the whole Mutanimals are dead – why would they worry about killing Slash, Ninjara, Maligna or even one of the TMNT themselves? The only person we know isn’t going to die (permanently) is Null, the only character we want brutally murdered. It’s rare that killing characters actually works to say ‘shit just got real’ instead of saying ‘we want a clear-out’ ‘no-one of consequence will die’ or ‘you don’t really think this means anything do you?’ – The Mutant Massacre, Terracide and Earth-3’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths are the first three that come to mind (and those three were all done for ‘clear-out’ reasons!), which means that Terracide is keeping pretty good company if nothing else.
Moving past the deaths the story has two great villains behind it, both having their last hurrah and though both end a little anticlimactically (Null escapes though again he’s the devil, or some kind of personification of evil or greed or all of the Captain Planet villains combined or something). That said the villains are beyond a credible threat, they have killed Mondo Gecko, Leatherhead and Wingnut & Screwloose as an opening salvo, if Null says he can destroy time just because he wants to, I believe he can do it and there’s no doubt about how evil he is after he SHOWS A YOUNG WOMAN HER FRIENDS AND LOVER BURNING IN HELL (they’re not really in hell) just to knock her out and then turns her into a sex slave, and Maligna has an army of bug men – and watching the heroes slaughter their way through them is as shocking as it is awesome – she may not be evil personified but she’s well backed up. The tension in the story is high, there are brutal and pretty intense fight scenes, just read the damn thing , you might want to read the last part of Megadeth (issue 54) first but the story and art on Megadeth is piss poor so maybe not15.
02. I, Monster
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue 4 (Mirage Studios, 1988)
Jim Lawson, Ryan Brown
Wha’appen? While recuperating in Northampton the Turtles and Casey investigate a supposedly haunted factory, but they’re being hunted too, by a ‘monster’ in the form of The Rat King, who ties up Michaelangelo and tries to feed him to his rats, and that’s just the beginning.
Why? This issue is all about atmosphere, and by god it’s tense and by god it’s creepy and by god the Rat King is insane, if you don’t think a comic character can be scary imagine actually being around the Rat King of this story, then imagine being tied up and unable to move, it’d be like being kidnapped by the most unnerving drunk homeless person you’ve ever bumped into and convinced yourself didn’t creep you out because you’re not that sort of person and the uncanny valley doesn’t affect the would-be politically correct, who also smells like swamp. Again when I write ‘Ninja Turtles versus rats’ you may not think that’s too unnerving, now imagine being attacked by rats and you don’t have a gun or even a fire extinguisher or hose just sticks and swords and your bare hands and feet *shudders*. It is sad that The Rat King doesn’t get to physically engage with the Turtles (and is seemingly dispatched with one throwing star) but that somehow adds to the ghostly quality to him which the ambiguous ending just makes better/worse, the mysterious and haunting nature of this story being a major part of its appeal. Oh and this is the best Rat King story.
01. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (New Line Cinema, 1990)
Directed by Steve Baron, Screenplay by Todd W. Langen & Bobby Herbeck
Wha’appen? A crime wave is sweeping New York City and April O’Neil is covering it and getting up police chief Stern’s nose by doing so, it seems this crime wave may be perpetrated by… ninjas? Stern isn’t the only person April’s pissing off, when the Foot Clan confront her, she is saved by the TMNT, as the crime wave gets worse, as April’s boss’ son becomes involved with the Foot (who are recruiting youths), as Raphael meets Casey Jones, as Splinter is taken by the Foot Clan, April becomes more and more involved in the world of mutant ninja turtles, leading to her junk shop being burned down and having to flee the city after Raphael is badly beaten in an ambush and they’re helped escape by Casey.
Why? Simply put it’s the perfect mix of TMNT – it has the atmosphere and serious tone of the comic books, as well as the comic book characterisations of Casey Jones, Raphael and The Shredder mixed with the elements of the first cartoon series (no Bebop and Rocksteady sadly but they probably would have hurt the film more than helped it) including Michelangelo’s characterisation, it adapts TMNT #1 & Raphael #1 so well it made putting them on this list redundant, it introduces one of The Shredder’s best lieutenants in the franchise with Tatsu16 and it’s real; all real, no CGI, just Jim Henson’s workshop doing what they do best. It includes everything you need in a Turtles story – a Raph/Leo argument (a fight would have been better perhaps), huge battles with the Foot, a confrontation with the Shredder, the Shredder/Splinter conflict and a confrontation arising from it (which is explained in this one Michael Bay TMNT film! If you explain it it will actually have weight and oh look Splinter doesn’t have a top knot because this film quite rightly deduces we can tell a Japanese man without him needing one), Casey motherfucking Jones, running away to Northampton (without the seemingly requisite filler, thus this is easily the best ‘exile in Northampton’ because it’s short and powerful rather than long and filled with time wasting bullshit like poachers and alien princesses and sexually harassing bigfoot and
turducken Chimeras that April can mentally
connect with and aaaargh!), it’s all in here complete with decent acting and
fight choreography that only becomes better the more you think that the stunt
men doing it are wearing fly-eye masks or giant rubber latex turtle suits. I
love every minute of this film, I even quite like Danny Pennington (though I
like Keno better) the only complaint I have is that they switched Burne
Thompson for Charles Pennington, I get adding Danny, he helps move the plot
forward and even serves as a bit of an audience identification character now
that April was such a recognised part of TMNT she couldn’t serve that purpose
properly at the time, but why change April’s boss (and the channel she works
for) for no reason?
And that's it, hopefully you have been enraged enough to post why I am completely wrong and X is far better than X and that you all went and read Terracide, and personally I have always liked 'cowabunga'.
9 though Mondo Gekco and half the Punk Frogs, plus Tokka and Rahzer, did return in a later episode this season ‘Dirk Savage, Mutant Hunter’ which only just missed out on being on this list, I’m sure it’s devastated.
10 as this episode was banned from airing in the US, this is the air date for the UK (how times have changed, once upon a time it was us censoring TMNT), it’s first airing on American telly was in 2015.
11 yes I AM proud of that
12 beginning one of the longest running traditions in Turtles – the Turtles must fuck off and dick around in a farmhouse for a while, the movie, 4Kids, IDW, Nicktoons, they’ve all done it.
13 Murphy and Ryan Brown had a deal in place to develop a Mighty Mutanimals television show (with corresponding merchandise) but the deal fell through while the Mutanimals’ ongoing series was cancelled, apparently this is why they decided to kill them all off, this may have given Archie TMNT its most shocking moment but that’s a bit petty don’t you think?
14 Michelangelo – who had been temporarily blinded in a previous arc – had been picked up by the coast guard after their plane was brought down by the Gang of Four.
15 just to keep up the trend of monitoring Murphy’s possibly involuntarily Captain Planeting, we do get a few panels in part 3 with the characters being horrified at the concept of deforestation (Which is what killed Slash’s planet and why he likes palm trees so much in this universe), I think he honestly can’t help himself, unsubtle preachiness just comes out.
16 as much as I like Hun, I would have far preferred to have had Tatsu in 4Kids as Shredder’s human subordinate.
I made a funny!