Heroes in a Half-Shell

April 19, 2007 at 2:24 am Leave a comment

What’s this, a new series of posts starting, when I haven’t even finished the original “Superman” series? This is madness! Surely no subject could possibly justify such recklessness. What could possibly be worth starting such a thing? What topic is so glorious it could not be contained?

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Anyway, I just got back from seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for the second time. I’ll save you all a detailed review for now (to put it briefly, it’s a very good movie wrapped in a very bad movie) because instead I want to talk about something else. And that something is why the Ninja Turtles are completely and utterly badass.


It’s actually very badass cereal. It only looks otherwise because of their skills of ninja deception.

My parents tell me that “ninja” and “turtle” were two of the first words I ever said. I was a huge fan as a kid; I watched the tv show, saw the movies about a million times, had all the toys, read the comics (though sadly not the original Mirage ones). On one hand, it all seems rather crass. On the other hand, it was one of the major foundations of my childhood. Looking back, even through all the crap surrounding it, the original movie was legitimately awesome, and the original Mirage comics (which I eventually found) are ridiculously cool.

What I’m getting at here is that I’m biased. Incredibly biased. Let’s continue. A simple question and answer should set down the basics.

Q: Who are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
A: The name pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? They are four turtles, who are also ninjas, mutants and teenagers (simultaneously). How do you not know this? Where the hell have you been since the 80’s?

Q: Where can I see the Ninja Turtles?
A: Hypothetical question-asker, you are a goddamn idiot. You can see the Ninja Turtles EVERYWHERE. They got their start in the mid 80’s at Mirage Comics, and the franchise quickly grew to include movies, video games, several television series, and a shit-load of merchandise.

Q: Why are the Ninja Turtles awesome?
A: Because they are ninjas who are also turtles. I think that’s about as clear as it can be.

To give that a little more depth, the Ninja Turtles serve as both a parody and celebration of the two most popular comic titles of the late 80’s; the “teen mutant” books, mainly represented by the X-Men series, and gritty crime and ninja dramas, such as can be seen in Daredevil and Ronin. It creates a bizarre and interesting mash-up in which the Turtles are simultaneously feared outsiders, streetwise vigilantes, superheroes, science-created freaks, ninja masters, and about eighteen other archetypes.

Basically, this means that the Ninja Turtles are able to be re-interpreted along a number of different themes (as seen in the number of different interpretations over the years) while staying true to the core concept. Different writers can focus on cultural alienation, the dangers of science run amok, fantastical adventures through the universe, the nature and causes of street-level crime, or a number of other themes. For my part, I’ve always felt the Ninja Turtles work best when focusing on the more grittier crime element, fighting street-level crime and gangs while remaining the strangest thing in their universe. However, the range of themes and ideas than can be added and explored through this is stunning. It’s a very versatile property.

Q: They’re just four ninjas, right? So how come they can fight off dozens of Foot Ninjas?
A: There’s a simple answer to this one, an answer that further establishes the Turtles as utterly badass. By and large, The Foot are trained quickly. It’s a crash-course in ninjitsu emphasizing stealth rather than fighting, so that they might be effective thieves and gang enforcers. This varies based on the medium, but by and large they are at best moderately trained.

The Turtles, meanwhile, were raised nearly from birth to be the perfect killing machines. Their teacher, Master Splinter, learned from one of the greatest ninjas to ever live. With this knowledge, he spent well over a decade training them for the sole purpose of killing Shredder and thus avenging the death of Hamato Yoshi. Thanks to this training the Ninja Turtles are the perfect warriors and assassins, able to cut through their foes like warm knives through butter.

Coda
Basically, I take this all seriously to a ridiculous degree. To the extent that I could talk about a million different topics right now; the interpersonal relationships of the Turtles, their individual characters, the low-points of the franchise (the Image series and The Next Mutation), what I would do given the chance to write the series…

So, the only logical thing to do was talk about all of them. From this point on, every now and then I’m going to do posts about the Ninja Turtles wherein I will enlighten you all regarding their awesomeness. I also promise to finish that Superman series eventually. Really.

I do these things because I have nothing but contempt for my readers.

Editor’s Note: I actually did very few TMNT posts after this. Because I’m lazy, mostly.

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This is Basically Filler Seriously, I’m Just Filling Space

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