The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their world were created by Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman in May 1984. They were 30 & 22 years old respectively when their empire began. Eventually age and creative difference settled in and they had a falling out. Eastman sold his half to Laird beginning in 2000 (with the deal completed in 2008). Laird continued to run the businesses until 2009 when he sold 100% control to Nickelodeon. This was 25 years since the first comic came out and at that point the comics stopped production, the latest cartoon had already run its course and ended in 2009, the last movie was in 2007 and outside of anniversary figures the toy line was ended.
Until last year there was a dry period with no new Turtles content as Nickelodeon developed their plans. Those began with a line of new comics from IDW beginning last August (with Eastman involved), a rollercoaster at the Mall of America opened on March 17, a new cartoon and toy line will start in the fall, and there will be a movie for Christmas 2013.
It’s nice to see new content but I’m not sure if it’s content I want. I know they don’t need to cater to me but I also know I don’t need to buy what they’re selling. I have the comics, movies, toys and video games from my childhood and still enjoy them. It’s on Nickelodeon to produce something worth my present attention.
The comics are nice but aren’t telling new stories, they’re more focused on redoing what’s come before. I completely understand the need to market to the child who replaced me rather than retain the man I’ve become. I admire their attempt to combine the best aspects of the past continuity into one thread. As they braid these histories together they have introduced new characters (Old Hob) and complications (reincarnation, Young Casey Jones) that I find cheapen the story rather than build on it. I’ll give the book a few more issues to develop into something I want.
The Turtles are a very simple concept with distinct but broad characters who can be easily explained and adapted so it is unnecessary to spend time discussing their origins when there are new adventures waiting. I’ve written before that these characters taught me about continuity at a young age. No matter how I was following Raphael he would be rushing into a fight before thinking it through but the stakes would be different if he was in a black and white comic, a movie, a children’s cartoon or an Archie comic.
This will be true even as Nickelodeon resumes the empire. From its inception the branches will be different: this fall’s cartoon will be less “adult” than the comics and the movie from Michael Bay’s company with aliens will be different than all the others.
The movie is the most controversial and has generated waves of outcry but I can’t find it in me to care. At this point I know that I don’t ever want to see a Michael Bay directed or produced movie again because I won’t enjoy it. And I don’t need to see the movie because it has the Turtles in it. I have the original movies on my shelf right now.
In fact I have enough old movies that I want to watch for a first, second or twelfth time that I don’t need to see everything that is shoved into movie theaters week in and week out. I know that there are classic comics I haven’t read that I’d find more rewarding than 99% of the stuff on each week’s new releases rack. I’m going to keep focusing on the stuff I want rather than what’s put in front of me.