Back in 1984, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's very first issue of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES went on sale. Since then, the Heroes in a Half Shell have obviously become massively popular and we've witnessed quite a few incarnations over the years. However, the team's rooftop fight with Shredder in their debut Mirage issue is without question one of the most memorable scenes in the franchise's 30-year history.
After disposing of some criminals, Master Splinter tells the group they are at their peak and prepared to hear their true mission. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello are told the story of how Oroku Saki aka Shredder killed Splinter's master, Hamato Yoshi, and his wife, Tang Shen. Splinter then gives them one objective: challenge and kill the Shredder. The four brothers accept the mission and send Saki a note, calling him out and providing him the time and place where the melee will go down. The Shredder does honor this challenge, but before engaging the team himself, he commands his best Foot Clan ninjas to assault the four mutants. After a bloody battle, the turtles emerge victorious. Despite being battered and cut, the heroes leap at their enemy. Unfortunately for them, the villain is more skilled than they anticipated.
Okay, so the initial clash didn't go too well for the mutated reptiles. Raphael is slashed, Donatello is slashed and kicked (ouch), and then Michelangelo is tossed aside. Leonardo has better luck than his siblings and is able to draw blood from his opponent, slashing the fiend across his chest. The wound looks painful, although the foe still stands confidently and even mocks Splinter's students. This gives Leonardo a much-needed epiphany: they cannot defeat Shredder in one on one combat and need to switch their tactics.
Leo commands his brothers to strike at a distance and each begins to throw projectiles. After being bombarded by throwing stars and daggers, the evil guy finally gets a break as he successfully dodges Rahpael's sais. His luck stops there, though, because as he dodges the sais, a turtle gives him a swift kick to the stomach and then he takes an impactful punch straight to his chin.
Let's take a break from the play-by-play for a moment to discuss why this fight deserves a spot in this segment -- you know, aside from the fact that it is indeed a very spectacular battle. The franchise has been fortunate enough to have a number of talented artists work on these characters. During the current IDW run, creators like Mateus Santolouco and Ross Campbell bring their unique style to the Ninja Turtles' world and breathe new life into the property. That said, any and every turtles fan knows that the signature look began here with Eastman and Laird. In spite of the concept being somewhat silly, their artwork created a dark, gritty and more serious atmosphere. The images in this article are just a small sample of how the co-creators were able to bring a dirty and violent version of New York to the pages of the comic. And, as you can clearly see with the images we've posted, they did a mighty fine job delivering each and every attack these skilled characters dished out.
Then there's the fact Eastman and Laird were able to create a hugely satisfying standalone issue and finish it with such a fierce battle. You could literally read nothing else TMNT related and this would still end up feeling like a complete story. You'd walk away knowing their origin and understand why the Shredder was eventually selected to become their archenemy in other incarnations. This rooftop battle was a superb way to top it all off and leaves you wanting to see more of their adventures. Simply put: it's an intense and delightfully cinematic action scene. It's no wonder it inspired the final fight in the 1990 movie. Anyway, let's chime back in on the brawl.
Now that the turtles are working as a team, things aren't looking so great for Shredder. However, Shredder wasn't selected to become their legendary enemy just because he looks cool. First and foremost, Oroku Saki is a badass, and despite enduring several wounds, he's still able to make a bit of a recovery as he lands a brutal kick on Donny.
Just in case you've managed to avoid knowing how this awesome fight concludes, we definitely won't spoil it for you here. Let's just say it's shocking and, if you consider yourself a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you're absolutely obligated to read this issue at some point. It's not like it's hard to find, either. You don't need to shell out a bunch of cash on an original print because IDW has reprinted the comic in both black & white and in color. Basically, if you love the turtles, you need to make sure you read this first issue sooner rather than later and there's no good excuse not to. Trust us, it rocks and is most certainly deserving of a spot in "Best Battles in Comic Book History."
Do you have a favorite fight and think it deserves to be featured in this monthly segment? Well, suggest it below or tell us via Twitter.