Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: From Awesome To Awful

Article by Fritz Striker

Back in 1984, during the heyday of the modern comic era, a couple of dudes from New Hampshire got together and created a spoof of what were the most popular comic book tropes of the time. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird drew inspiration from the immense popularity of the Marvel Comics mutant titles, “The Uncanny X-Men” and “The New Mutants”. They also drew from the biggest name in comics in Frank Miller’s run on the blind acrobatic rooftop vigilante lawyer “Daredevil” and the DC limited series “Ronin”, about a haunted samurai sword in a cyberpunk dystopian future and also from the satirical and commentative “Cerebus” to create the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, arguably one of the most successful franchises of the latter half of the twentieth century.
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I was a comic collector at that time and was a huge fan of the original Mirage Studios books. The cynical satire quickly became an innovative alternative to the standard comics of the time with a grittiness not often found in titles from the big publishers. But by the late 80’s I stopped collecting comics as I found other things to interest me – namely girls.

That being said by the time the cartoon rolled around in 1987 it was off my radar. Between the aforementioned girls and being ‘way too mature for cartoons’ I was only aware of it’s existence due to it’s insane popularity. Just from the logo I knew all the satire and cynicism of the comic book was gone, replaced with the type 2 diabetes-inducing saccharine sweetness of kid-friendly television from the late 80’s. Like, totally gag me with a spoon!

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Fast-forward to 1990 when I was putting myself through art school by working at a multiplex in an affluent suburb of Pittsburgh. During my tenure there the first Turtles feature film opened and, despite my interest in The Henson Company doing all the creature effects, I couldn’t have hated that film more. Not because of the movie itself but due to all the snot-nosed runts that crawled out of the woodwork to see it at all hours of the day. One of the downsides of working in a theater is getting overexposed to the movies shown there. Compound that with obnoxious, screaming toddlers and it’s amazing the sheer mention of this franchise doesn’t induce some psychotic trance making me unwittingly seek out a high powered rifle and a clock tower. Needless to say I didn’t watch any of the sequels either.

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However, I did catch the 2007 CGI Turtles movie TMNT (mainly due to Peter Laird’s involvement) but unfortunately I found it to be a misfire. What was a perfect opportunity to return to the tone and feel of the original comics was wasted by the writer’s decision to tell a story that seemed so irrelevant that, tonally correct or not, I just couldn’t get excited about it.

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So now, in 2014, even that “effects addict” Michael Bay has decided to take a stab at the Turtles, to which all I can say is, “no thank you”. After decades of watching this franchise get watered down and recycled the last thing I need is to watch what the walking talking human turd that forced Megan Fox on humanity thinks the Turtles should be. Oh wait, lemme guess… lots and lots of explosions. Fuck that noise, I’m just going to re-read the original comics.

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8 thoughts on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: From Awesome To Awful

  1. If you’re going to do an article about the TMNT at least take a bit of time to watch SOME of the stuff you missed. This article has zero substance. The fact is the first three movies weren’t all that bad-the first one being the best TMNT live action movie even now. While the 90’s cartoon was clearly aimed at kids the 2007 series was pretty dark for what it was. I haven’t seen the current film but the 2012 Nick series is pretty damn good. The writing is clever, funny, and hearkens back to the previous iterations while managing to do its own unique thing well. April is a well rounded character this time around, and their version of Shredder is one of the best cartoon characters on TV right now.

    I think TMNT deserves a bit better treatment than you gave it.

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  2. If you’re going to do an article about the TMNT at least take a bit of time to watch SOME of the stuff you missed. This article has zero substance. The fact is the first three movies weren’t all that bad-the first one being the best TMNT live action movie even now. While the 90’s cartoon was clearly aimed at kids the 2007 series was pretty dark for what it was. I haven’t seen the current film but the 2012 Nick series is pretty damn good. The writing is clever, funny, and hearkens back to the previous iterations while managing to do its own unique thing well. April is a well rounded character this time around, and their version of Shredder is one of the best cartoon characters on TV right now.

    I think TMNT deserves a bit better treatment than you gave it. I certainly don’t think you’ve spent enough time with the franchise to be qualified to call it awful.

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    1. Fritz’ lamentation is about how the comic book content never got it’s fair shake. I have a similar sentiment coming from the morning cartoon and then growing into the comic book.

      After that, the doofus faced pizza munching bullshit was stupid, sophomoric, and insulting to my 12 year old intelligence.

      Cowabunga bro! (sarcasm)

      this isn’t a review on the functionality of a toaster. it’s an emotional appeal. we don’t owe you an objective observation on this or anything else we write about.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Qualified? What, is there a TMNT University I need to enroll in before telling my opinion of the franchise? I didn’t think so.

      I’ve seen enough of the candy-coated pap manufactured to make pants-pissing toddlers scream until their parents buy them crap to shut them up to know that it is about as far removed from the original comics as THE PHANTOM MENACE was to STAR WARS. Just because you get all tingly at the thought of the cartoons doesn’t mean the rest of us have to.

      But I am glad my personal anecdote got your panties all in a bunch. Just knowing that made my day. Thanks kid!

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    1. The only reason I can rationalize is because these franchises are fully fleshed out worlds with back story and universes behind them. More and more major studios are pushing to own, not just properties, but entire creative worlds that can be expanded and exploited for numerous angles of content.

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