Issue 45: Radical Reading (Comic Book Adaptations)


In honor of the new TMNT movie that hits theaters Friday, I wanted to pay homage to the classic films that came before it. I've discussed in detail my favorite moments from the original live action films here at The Sewer Den. Hopefully, the new movie can find a place among the 90's classics. Like every TMNT fan, I have lofty expectations. But once I see it, then what? I'll head home craving more cowabunga...

That's why my fingers are crossed for a comic book adaption. Back in the 90's, the Archie Adventure Series released an adaptation for each film in comic book form. And they were great! Fans were given an opportunity to revisit the movies without making another trek to the theater.

Before we flock to theaters this Friday, let's take a peek at the classic comic adaptations from The Sewer Den library. No ticket required.


Watching a TMNT film is a joyride. But, flipping through the pages of a comic brings another level of satisfaction. The vivid colors, the expressive ink, the touch of paper - it makes for a magical moment. It's also gratifying to experience TMNT in the same way it was originally created, in comic book form.

One of my favorite aspects of a comic book adaptation is spotting the differences from the movie. For some strange reason, slight changes in dialogue or an altered scene always seem to make me giggle. Case in point, the line featured above is not in the film (it's a great line though!). These changes keep the reader on their toes. The story might be the same, but the execution is new. It's like 'Where's Waldo?' within your comic book.

Occasionally, you'll come across a surprise. A line from the film that is so cheesy, and so bad, yet somehow still makes its way into the comic.

The ending usually isn't altered in these tales. But, the TMNT: The Movie adaptation launches a bombshell at readers. The original ending, that was cut from the film, is in this comic book. It's a silly scene that had no place in the film. But, it's fun to see it illustrated within the final pages of the comic.



Like the movie itself, the comic book adaptation for Secret of the Ooze is a lot lighter. The sillier tone of the film is reflected within the 64 pages of this puppy.

There was only one scene in Secret of the Ooze movie that sent chills down my childhood spine. The moment stood out like a sore thumb amongst the other zany sequences. When Shredder first enters the film, he is bruised and battered after being defeated by the Turtles. The scene is lit so his face remains hidden in the shadows. Other characters react to how disfigured he has become. Eventually when he puts on his mask, traces of blood outline his eyes. That's scary as a kid! But, here in the comic book? We are presented with a full-faced, barely bruised, barely battered, Shredder. Family-friendly!

Most of the memorable moments from the movie are still here.

Tokka & Rahzar. The mutant baddies bring the bone-headed antics to the comic and do not disappoint. For the most part, their scenes are pretty similar to the film. Fun, silly, and always enjoyable. They also look much cooler as an inked image. Although static on the page, these mutants come to life much more than their movie counterparts. Their costumes in the film, Rahzar especially, always seemed a little phony to me. Their faces didn't pack the semi-realistic punch that the Turtles and Splinter had. In the comic, they are a legitimate, bad ass threat.

The Pre-Fight Doughnut. One of my favorite scenes from the film isn't forgotten here. Although the moment was a hoot in the movie, it's surprisingly better in the comic. Shredder's illustrated reaction is priceless.

Vanilla Ice. The rapper flipped hip hop on its ear back in the 90's. His success landed him a role in the Secret of the Ooze film - where he laid out lyrical verses for the song, "Ninja Rap." But in the comic, the poor guy becomes a lame, generic rapper. I suppose copyright issues canned his illustrated appearance. Instead, a similar blonde, white rapper belts out bland lyrics that are not nearly as catchy as the ones featured in the movie.

Super Shredder. Aroko Saki goes from bad to worse as a mutated menace. He is viciously awesome in both the movie and comic climax. He bashes his way through the wooden pier like a crazed wrecking ball. No one refers to him as "Super Shredder" in the in the adaptation for some reason. Weird.

Whereas the movie failed many fans for its silliness, the Secret of the Ooze comic book is incredible. The wacky spectacle and absurd moments somehow feel completely natural. It's an enjoyable read that doesn't disappoint.



Much like the film itself, the third TMNT movie adaptation Crack open the comic and you'll immediately notice the artwork is wildly different from the previous entries. Despite the Archie Adventure Series branding, the adaptations for the first two films were drawn in the style of Eastman & Laird's original comic. But for the third movie adaptation, readers are given a distinct variant.

As most of you know, Jim Henson's Creature Shop handled the puppeteering and design of the first two TMNT flicks. Unfortunately, they were not involved in the third film. As a result, the movie looks a LOT different. This makes the visual approach for the third comic adaptation a fitting choice. The movie looks different, so the comic should too, right? Well, much like the movie, the contrast in visuals are a tough pill to swallow.

However, once you get beyond the initial shock from the artwork, the colors and content come alive from page to page. The flaws of the movie are easily overlooked in the comic book. The time traveling gimmick was a stretch for the movie, but for a breezy read it works fine. The pacing also moves much faster than the film. Less is more with this story.

From all the comic adaptations, the humor in this installment is weakest. Many jokes from the movie have been abandoned or altered with less-rewarding punchlines. But thankfully, the best one-liner remained. The "shwing" gag!

If you're itching to revisit the third film, but are hesitant to sit through the 96 minute runtime, I suggest the comic book adaptation. You'll spend less time reading the story than you will watching it.




I know, I know - this is no 90's flick. So, I'll keep it short. Released in 2007, "TMNT" came out 14 years after the previous installment. The rubber suits were swapped with CGI characters and were thrown into an entirely animated world. A lot of fans don't dig this movie, but I do. There was more action, decent character arcs, and plenty of gags to keep me laughing. It wasn't gold, but it was fun.

If you've seen the film, the artwork in the adaptation is interchangeable. The character designs are the same. No surprises here.

With the new movie hitting theaters this week, it's the perfect time to revisit the classics. See what dudes in rubber suits did before technology propelled Hollywood into the digital realm. If you're like me, you've probably watched the original movies countless times. That's why the comic book adaptations are perfect. The illustrated pages offer a fresh take on the Turtle Power you know so well.

Grab one of the comics, snag a slice of pizza, and enjoy!


  1. This is awesome, I just dug out my issues the other day, with the TMNT month I'm doing, glad to see I'm not the only one that held onto and still enjoys these great reads.

    1. That's awesome you've still got yours after so long. Dust em off and get your reading on! They're so darn fun, right?

  2. That they are, but have you seen any word on a new adaptation for the new movie yet, I haven't, but here's hoping.

    1. I haven't heard anything yet. But with the film opening #1 at the box office, the chances of a comic book adaptation seem better than ever.


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