My Indie Comics Month of March marches onward with another new guide for Pledgeonaut Patron supporters of CK! On Monday I debuted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Guide to Mirage Studios Continuity, which ended with the sale of the TMNT intellectual property to Viacom. However, that wasn’t the end of TMNT – really, it was more like the beginning! That’s because Viacom licensed the Turtles to IDW, who has maintained one of the best shared universes of continuity in all of comics. Read it all in my new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Guide to IDW Continuity!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Guide to IDW Continuity
Before I get into any background on this guide, one VERY IMPORTANT note: you can read the entire first decade of IDW continuity for free if you subscribe to Amazon’s Comixology Unlimited. Every digital purchase link in this guide leads to a Comixology page on Amazon where, if you subscribe, you can “borrow” the book for free with one click on desktop, mobile, or your Kindle.
I highly recommend subscribing for a month and binging a ton of Turtles, because that’s just how I fell in love with IDW’s absolutely incredible TMNT continuity.
I had never read a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics before 2019. I mostly knew the Turtles from their classic cartoons, videogames, and toys. As a comics fan, I was dimly aware of them having a lengthy history as a black-and-white indie comic in the 1980s (as covered in my Mirage Studios guide), but I had never read a single panel of their comic.
That changed in November 2019, when I stayed home from a weekend camping trip and spent a fully day dedicated to checking out comics I had never read before. At 10:04 AM I opened my first issue of IDW’s TMNT continuity and immediately fell in love.
I don’t know what I expected from Turtles comics – a bunch of cowabunga and pizza eating, I guess. What I discovered was a massive castle of mutants and humans with years of continuity stretching across sagas that were wild and sci-fi but also altogether human. These turtles and their mentor Splinter had once been regular animals, but they were also connected as a family in a surprising way that I won’t spoil here.
As I caught up, the title quickly shot up my ranks until it was my #2 comic series of 2019 and each new issue was at the very top of my pull list as it released!
One of the most-fascinating things about the modern TMNT IDW continuity is how well-tended it is. Alongside a main series that is currently up to issue #140, IDW has released dozens of issues of supporting mini-series and one-shots, plus two years of a second ongoing title. IDW’s editors knows the exact continuity placement of every issue in that universe, which they often plainly state in title pages or in editorial notes and back matter.
Even when issues don’t include a continuity note (or, if the story has no explicit connection to the current continuity), the IDW Collection deluxe hardcovers place each story in a recommended reading order.
HOW AMAZING IS THAT?! I would literally pay extra for every Marvel and DC comic book if they could keep their shared universes as well-organized as IDW.
Part of what makes the universe so well-organized and such a good read is that it is always helmed not by a single writer, but a collective brain-trust of writers and editors that often includes TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman as well as longtime mutant mastermind Tom Waltz (and, for a long time, Bobby Curnow – author of another one of my Top #10 comics of 2019). They work together make sure the book stays consistent and consistently good, often contrasting the tone of the main ongoing title with something different in a mini-series – whether that means going sillier, more series, or more sci-fi.
I could not recommend IDW’s TMNT universe any more highly to you! It doesn’t matter if you’re a major TMNT cartoon fan, an occasional TMNT video game player, or even just a Marvel or DC fan who craves a shared universe where the quality is always high. I’ll simply add the caveat that things start a little slow and build explosively over time, so you might want to leap in at issue #51 or #86 if you want to be dumped into the middle of major action.
Want instant access to this guide so you can binge hundreds of issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in perfect reading order before their Mutant Mayhem movie arrives this summer? Become a Patron of CK for $1.99 a month or $20.30 a year to gain access to every one of these 70 exclusive guides!
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