If You Love ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, Try These Comics Next
The new blockbuster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is in cinemas now, and surprisingly it patches the flaws from its predecessor and ramps up the ridiculousness in a way that makes it an enjoyable family superhero film for the summer. The Turtles have been mainstays of film, TV and video games for decades, but their origins go way back to the black and white independent comics boom of the '80s.
If you’re a fan of Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, odds are you’re already keeping up with IDW’s excellent ground-up re-imagining of the franchise, but if you want more in that vein, we’ve selected five of the best independent, creator-owned, or alternative licensed comics that live up to the spirit of Turtle Power!
If you grew up a fan of the Turtles, odds are you have some pretty positive feelings regarding the Power Rangers, and outside of 1994 it’s never been a better time to be a fan of the teenagers with attitude. Boom Studios’ new ongoing series fills the gaps in between episodes of the original television show, and explains how the Green Ranger went from mind-controlled villain to trusted member of the team.
As a comic, the series gets way more bonkers than you’d expect it to, and tackles some very real themes including Tommy’s PTSD from being a brainwashed pawn of Rita Repulsa. As of writing, this ongoing is still brand new too, so you can get caught up relatively easily in single issues and each issue features back-up stories exploring the world and characters of Angel Grove in more detail.
Another property that’s been revived and updated successfully for the 2010s is the '80s classic Jem and the Holograms, about the pop group led by an Amazonian hologram lady and their arch-rivals, The Misfits. The new series takes the core idea of the cartoon but moves the timeline up to the present in a way you wouldn’t think works, but totally does.
While the Jem cartoon is extremely of its time, the new comic feels thoroughly now and that’s largely in part to Sophie Campbell’s character designs which show off not only a range of modern fashion, but a range of body diversity that you just don’t get in other comics. The stories remain fun and energetic, and almost effortlessly contain more LGBT representation than most publishers have in their entire lines.
Jem is the gold standard for reboots of its kind, and surpasses mere nostalgia ploy to become something fun, relevant and vital all on its own.
Megatron is a giant robot that turns into a handgun. Destro is an arms dealer descended from a line of Scottish arms dealers. When they meet, the comic page cries out "GUN GOD MEET YOUR AVATAR" and that’s kind of all you need to know about Transformers vs GI Joe.
Transformers v GI Joe is the most bonkers licensed comic to ever exist — past, present or future — because while most crossovers between the two properties see the robots coming to Earth, here the script is flipped and sees the Joes journey to Cybertron and we get to see all the weirdness of a planet of car robot people from their perspectives.
In a relatively short amount of time, John Barber and Tom Scioli manage to pack every aspect of both franchise’s lore into a breakneck paced comic that never once feels alienating to someone who has no knowledge of either franchise.
While you may be aware that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started out as a parody of the gritty, serious Frank Miller comics of the times such as Daredevil and Ronin, did you know that not long after, TMNT spawned its own parody in the form of Radioactive Adolescent Black Belt Hamsters?
The hamsters were part of a NASA experiment that were exposed to radiation in space and crash-landed in a Tibetan monastery, where they were trained in the martial arts. If you’re after something even more tongue in cheek and underground than the original TMNT comics, this might be up your street.
If you want to go ever more niche, we can talk about Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos, but I think you get the point.
On the surface, Bad Machinery seems like it has nothing in common with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The latter is about literal mutant turtles who live in the sewers of New York City. The former is about two rival groups of kid detectives in the fictional West Yorkshire town of Tackleford in England.
However, if you like teenagers getting themselves into trouble, witty dialogue and weird monsters, then you might start to notice more of a connection than is initially apparent. Bad Machinery is one of the most charming and clever comics you can get your hands on right now, and is well worth taking a chance on,