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  • Writer's pictureBrad Gullickson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles X Strangers Things Shouldn't Work

But it does. The first issue is totally radical and a must-read for TMNT fans especially.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles X Stranger Things Daniel Warren Johnson

The first time I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mashed up with Stranger Things was in the toy aisle at Target. Playmates and Netflix have partnered up and delivered box sets featuring Raphael and Hopper, Eleven and Leonardo, etc. My first reaction toward them was not quite disgust, not quite joy. IP gotta IP.

However, having just finished reading the first issue in Dark Horse Comics and IDW's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles X Stranger Things crossover, I need to reassess my disdain and get my butt back to Target. The first issue, written by Cameron Chittock and illustrated by Fero Pe, is more than a damn delight; it's a must-read for old-school, die-hard Mirage Studios fanatics like myself. Miraculously, the moment these two heroic bands of teenagers meet below the New York City streets feels as natural as any other weird-ass thing that's occurred in any Turtle comic.

The advanced review copy we read was black-and-white. Eventually, Sofie Dodgson's colors will slather everything and undoubtedly be gorgeous (see her glorious work on Bitter Root), but the comic feels wondrously natural as I experienced it. With Pe's art seamlessly replicating the classic Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird design and aesthetic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles X Stranger Things could slip easily into the same longbox I carry my original issues. It's odd to process. I hope a black-and-white variant becomes available for those with our classic Turtles kink.

The comic's set-up is basic but rapidly gets us to the good stuff. The Hawkins gang (Eleven, Max, Dustin, Mike, Will, and Lucas) arrive in New York City on a field trip. They fall behind from their group and race to catch up using the subway transit system. While down below, they hear some disappointingly familiar hissing sounds. Demogorgons. Having built up some courage through a few seasons on Netflix, the group follows their ears and runs into trouble.

What they find is not exactly what they expected. I won't spoil the surprise but know that it's a threat that neatly adheres to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles X Stranger Things crossover. And yeah, while they don't necessarily need a rescuing from our favorite turtle brothers, they don't deny them or us the pleasure. After the initial shock, the Hawkins group and the Turtles do a meet-and-greet, and the scene is not too unfamiliar from the one between April O'Neil and the Turtles in the original 1990 TMNT live-action adaptation. It's cute and sweet, filled with curiosity and acceptance. Immediately, you like seeing these disparate individuals together.

Chittock and Pe know these characters and, better yet, know this particular era. The tone does not necessarily mimic what you get in the Mirage Studios days. Again, it's more of that Mirage comics/classic TMNT 80s cartoon blend that we got in the first TMNT movie. It's nostalgic but fresh. Seeing these worlds collide is a touch uncanny, but that imbalance keeps things interesting and never strays into the cheap cash-grab my cynical past self once feared.

Quickie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles X Stranger Things delivers on its promise. Cameron Chittock and Fero Pe are a great combo, providing a style and tone that honors both franchises. The black-and-white art is utterly gorgeous, and I'm sure the color version will equally sing, but gosh, these Ninja Turtles look natural as is. With three issues left, you can bet I will get all of them.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles X Stranger Things #1

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stranger Things
Image Credit: © 2023 IDW/Dark Horse Comics

Writer: Cameron Chittock

Artist: Fero Pe

Colorist: Sofie Dodgson

Letterer: Rus Wooton

Production and Design: Nathan Widick

Editor: Chase Marotz

Editorial Assistant: Nicolas Niño

Variant Covers: Daniel Warren Johnson (Header Image), Rafael Albuquerque (See Above), Jorge Corona, Jenn Woodall, and Adam Gorham.

Publisher: IDW/Dark Horse Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

On Sale: 7/12/23

Synopsis: Eleven, Max, Dustin, Mike, Will, and Lucas are looking forward to a nonthreatening, fun-filled trip to New York City. With the gang hundreds of miles from the otherworldly weirdness of their hometown, they’re sure to catch a break this time…or at least that’s what they think until they encounter a threat both bizarre and familiar. To face that threat, they must unite with a fearsome fighting team every bit as bizarre…but green!


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