Obscure Comics: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up #1

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Series that Has Returned and Done Well

During the late eighties to the mid-nineties, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere.  As with many popular franchises, through reinvention tried to keep the characters and money still going.  With the end of the animated series on CBS with season 9, Fox picked up the new live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Next Mutation and introducing the fifth female turtle with Venus de Milo in 1997.  Needless to say, TMNT disappeared there for a time, however as the TMNT went from being joint owned by co-creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman to just owned by Peter Laird, starting with a buyout in 2000, the franchise moved into new territory and a new lease on life with a relaunch skewing closer to the original Mirage Studios comics and a new animated series in 2003.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Circa 2003s Smash-Up #1
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Circa 2003

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Has Had So Many Video Games

TMNT video games have a very long life span, almost as long as the comics, with the first (extremely hard) video game coming out in 1989 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and a different game released in Arcades, that would eventually see release on the NES as TMNT II: The Arcade Game. Both games were developed by Konami, who would develop TMNT games until 2005, the first year a mobile game was created and released for the franchise.  In 2007, along with the new CGI TMNT movie, Ubisoft would take over doing development for TMNT games, and in 2009, around the 25th anniversary of the whole franchise, Ubisoft would release Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up.

However, Only One of The TMNT Games Came With A Comic Book

Hyped as a TMNT fighting game tour de force, it was a 4-player 2.5D fighting game, extremely similar to the Super Smash Bros. series but with a very small roster of characters.  Released on September 29th, 2009, for the Wii and PS2, the game boosted only sixteen characters, four of which were exclusive to the Wii version and seven of which could only be used in arcade mode.  The character design is similar to the CGI TMNT movie, has voice work by the TMNT 2003 animated series cast, and only features characters from those two iterations. (Other characters from the 1987 animated series, live-action series and movies, and comics were not utilized, possibly due to some licensing rights.) The game received mixed reviews and a great departure from the past TMNT fighting games, such as the 1993 TMNT Tournament Fighters and 2005 TMNT Mutant Melee.  However, unlike any other TMNT video game, this game contained a 24-page TMNT comic book produced by Mirage Studios, included with both the Wii and PS2 versions of the game.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up Wii Cover
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up Wii Cover

Obscure Comics: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up #1

Created by Mirage Studios, the cut scenes in the game were written by Peter Laird, with artwork by long-time Mirage Studios crew Jim Lawson and Eric Talbot.  Likewise, the artwork for the comic is by Lawson, though no credits are given confirming Laird wrote it and Talbot inked it. The 24-page comic only has ads on the front and back inside covers, and its narrative follows along with the 2003 animated series.  However, the storytelling device utilized on the first page follows the Mirage Studios technique of Tales of the TMNT, where a character will talk on the first page to the audience before ending his monologue with "Let me tell you a story…"

The comic's story follows the Turtles being informed of a tournament they, April and Casey Jones, will compete in for a prize, along with Master Splinter (similar to the Battle Nexus Tournament arc of the 2003 series that guest-starred Usagi Yojimbo).  However, the Turtles are contacted by Professor Honeycutt, the Fugitoid, who asks to be rescued from the clutches of the Shredder.

Unable to locate the Fugitoid on their own, the Turtles receive unexpected aid from Karai, the Shredder's daughter, who tells them the Fugitoid and Shredder are in Tokyo.  Hoping to utilize the time staff left to them by Renet, the Turtles, Casey, April, and Master Splinter are attacked in their sewer lair by Leatherhead, who gets drug with them through time.

Arriving in Tokyo, but in the wrong year, a fight ensues with Oni Samurai until Donatello is able to get the staff to take them to the right place and the right time.

Rescuing the Fugitoid, the Turtles are ambushed by Foot Soldiers and the Shredder, as the Tournament looks likely to begin.

As Copies Get Rare, the Price Goes Up

It isn't a new tale, but copies of the game with comics are still affordable and obtainable on the secondary market for as cheap as $10 for used copies with comics in okay condition.  However, new copies and in better condition range from $20 to $70, and the eleven-year-old game is getting rarer as few gamers play the Wii or PS2 anymore, and additional items like packed in comics are usually lost or gotten rid of from games by gamers who really just want the game. A comic that is definitely a good idea to add to your collection now if you are interested in it, as most of the Mirage Studios comics from this era are rare and pricy.


This post is part of a multi-part series: Obscure Comics.

About Ian Melton

Japanese Teacher, Comic Book, Manga, & Anime collector, LCBS worker, father of 2, fan of far too many things for far too long...