The first two posts of my impromptu “Revenge of the 90’s” weekend (which is now admittedly running over into the week) were not particularly revenge-like. In one, we learned of First 4 Figures taking Sonic the Hedgehog back to his roots, while the other gave us a hopeful look into the future of the Power Rangers.
Hopeful. That’s a word that doesn’t seem especially fitting towards this look at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Specifically, the Mirage version of the characters, which as Turtles Forever made quite clear, are essentially the root of all the other versions.
Before going any further, some are bound to point out that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise was born and exploded in the 80’s, making its inclusion here seem a touch out-of-place. However, the green team persevered throughout the 90’s with their cartoons, comics, video games, and other merchandise.
Furthermore, I would say their popularity probably hit its peak around the release of the first motion picture, which was released in 1990. So, I’d say they count well enough.
With that out of the way, I have to say that I feel that since and in selling the TMNT to Nickelodeon, co-creator Peter Laird has done the fandom a tremendous disservice. While fans of the cartoons, both old and new, received closure not only in their respective season finales, but Turtles Forever as well, fans of the comics were not so lucky.
For one, the 25th anniversary of the TMNT was supposed to bring with it the finale we were denied for the Archie Adventure Series title, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. “The Forever War,” as the arc was known, was promoted in the last issues of the comic, but never came to pass. It was finally going to be finished by Mirage itself, but we would soon learn that was not to be.
In selling the Turtles to Nickelodeon, Laird also gave up nearly all of Mirage’s rights to have anything to do with the franchise… save for one thing.
Laird retained the rights to be able to create and publish a limited number of issues in the original Mirage Studios Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe per year. However, he has made it rather clear that right now, and seemingly for the foreseeable future, he has no plans to capitalize on that right.
My understanding of Mirage’s production of the book is that they were not the most consistent in releasing new issues as it was. The reason, I’m told, was due to Peter Laird essentially wanting to have his hand in everything Turtles– the cartoon show, the toy line, the video games, the movies… and, of course, the original comic.
With only so many hours in a day, something was bound to suffer. And that something seemed to be his most personal stake in the Turtles name, the original comic book series.
Despite the comparative wealth of free time the man now possesses, it seems that getting back to that business is the furthest thing from his mind (except for when fans likely ask when he’ll get back to it). Nor does he seem willing to let anyone else put pen to paper to craft the finale.
In both instances, it’s understanding. He’s been working on TMNT for 25 years, so a break from it is no doubt desirable. And the Mirage comic? That’s clearly his baby; I can’t imagine him wanting anyone else to finish it up for him, unless he himself was no longer able.
Nonetheless, this does very little for the fans. Some reassurance of getting back to things, wrapping things up would seem most welcome, but so far as I’ve seen, is not forthcoming.
Fortunately, Laird has not left us completely high and dry.
Mark Pellegrini, aka “DrSpengler” on The AllSpark, has gone through the Mirage comics to find, collect, compile, and comprehend the brief glimpses into the Turtles’ future as provided by the comic itself.
Beginning in 1988 and continuing right up until they ceased publication of TMNT comics in 2010, Mirage has given us snippets and glimpses of a bizarre and thoroughly depressing future for their Ninja Turtles. Like all good cryptic peeks at one’s fate, the view is non-linear, muddled, confusing and mysterious, but fascinating all the same.
With Mirage no longer publishing Turtle comics, and therefore all the pieces of the puzzle that are ever going to exist now spread out on the card table, I’m going to attempt my level best to fit them all together into something approaching a coherent narrative.
You can find the sum of his work here, but I leave you with a word of warning: this is, again, the Mirage version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is generally renowned as being a bit darker, a bit grittier, and a bit more serious than, say, the cartoon where James “Uncle Phil” Avery played the part of the Shredder. So if you’re looking for some sort of closure to this first pre-Nickelodeon era of the Turtles and your fondest memories involve Bebop and Rocksteady screwing up again, maybe finding Turtles Forever would be a better resolution for you.
Or, to put it more simply: be sure reading this is what you want, for not all endings are happy ones.