The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Were Created By The Same Type Of Accident That Created Which Other Super Hero?
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 parody poking fun at the state of the early 1980s comic book world. Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird thought it would be funny to publish a comic parodying current trends in comic books. Building on an initial brainstorm drawing of a squat turtle wielding nunchuks (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.
That storyline revolved around parodying four popular early 1980s comics. They pulled from Marvel’s The New Mutants (a series focused on teenage mutants), Ronin, Daredevil (which featured ninja clans fighting over New York City), and Cerberus (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 parody the aforementioned comics, but the same type of accident that created Daredevil also created the Turtles. The original Turtles creation story includes a traffic accident involving 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”; the Turtles mentor is known as “Splinter.” Daredevil fights a ninja clan known as “The Hand”; The Turtles fight a clan known as “The Foot.”
The story proved more popular than anyone anticipated; the small first run of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 was so sought after that within months the first issue was trading at over 50 times the cover price. The comic remained in print, with minor hiatuses here or there, from the first issue in 1984 until the last regular issue released in 2010 (a single solitary issue was released in May 2014).
Image courtesy of Mirage Studios.