Geek Trivia

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Were Created By The Same Accident That Created Which Other Super Hero?

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Comic panel showing Matt Murdock and the event that led to the creation of the Ninja Turtles.
Mirage Studios

Answer: Daredevil

Although the franchise has taken on a life of its own, the original comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series was intended to be a pastiche of early 1980s comic book series. Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird thought it would be fun to publish a comic influenced by the current trends in comic books. Building on an initial brainstorm drawing of a short, squat turtle wearing a mask with nunchaku strapped to its arms (a joke that played on the contradiction between the glacial speed of turtle movement and the rapid speed of Japanese martial arts), they began fleshing out a storyline.

The storyline revolved around pastiching four popular early 1980s comic book series. They pulled from Marvel’s The New Mutants (a series focused on teenage mutants), Ronin, Daredevil (which featured ninja clans fighting for control of New York City’s underworld), and Cerebus (which featured anthropomorphic animals). You can see pretty easily how stringing together those concepts yields, well, teenage mutant ninja turtles battling over a major city.

Not only did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pastiche the aforementioned comics, but the same accident that created Daredevil also created the Turtles. The original Turtles creation story includes a traffic accident involving a truck carrying radioactive material that not only covers the Turtles in the radioactive ooze that mutates them, but also injures a young man at the scene of the accident. In addition to this allusion to the Daredevil series, there are other parallels. Daredevil’s mentor is known as the “Stick” while the Turtles mentor is known as “Splinter.” Daredevil fights a ninja clan known as “The Hand” while the Turtles fight a clan known as “The Foot.”

The story proved more popular than anyone anticipated. The first printings of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics had small print runs that made them instant collector’s items. Within months, the books were trading at prices well over 50 times their cover price. The comic remained in print, with minor hiatuses here or there, from the first issue in 1984 until the last regular issue was released in 2010 (solitary issues were released for Free Comic Book Day in 2014 and 2015).