By all rights, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could have remained a comic book curiosity, forgotten to all but the most dedicated comic book readers as an 80’s superhero parody. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original black-and-white comics openly tease Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil, but then they go on to do something amazing: They create a stunningly entertaining new TMNT universe that stands on its own.
Catching up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics can be initially confusing, as there have been various iterations of the comic since the 80’s. Below I lay out the simplest reading order for new fans looking to explore the Ninja Turtles catalog.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Reading Order
Turtles Origins – The Mirage Studios Comics
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 to #7
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #8-11, Michaelangelo, Leonardo, and Donatello “micro-series” one-shots
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #12, 14, 15, 17, and 19–21
Reading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles volume 6 prior to volumes 4 & 5 is clearly counter intuitive, nonetheless it’s the most sensible reading approach. Volume 6 contains a series of one-shots and short stories set within the TMNT universe, and is more for the most dedicated turtles fans.
You can also find a number of these stories collected in the Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trade paperbacks.
You certainly don’t need to read Usagi Yojimbo as part of your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reading order, but then again, you also don’t need to read great comics at all. Usagi’s first story arc collected in Saga volume 1 involves the Turtles, and then goes to establish the greatest anthropomorphic samurai this side of Leonardo, Donatello, Rapheal, and Michelangelo.
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #16, #22, and #23
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #27, #28, and #29
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #32, #33, #37, and Turtle Soup
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #34 and #38–40
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #42 to #44
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #45 to #47
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #48 to #62
Ultimate Collections 4 and 5 collect the Turtles “City at War” story arc, the culmination (and ultimately conclusion) of Eastman and Laird’s work together on the turtles.
Turtles in the 90’s – Rebooted Series (Volume 2)
Mirage Studios series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2 that ran from 1993–1995
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 to #5
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6 to #9
Collects: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #10 to #13
TMNT Relaunch – The IDW Comics Reading Order
Collects: TMNT #1 to #12, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Splinter Micro-Series one-shots
Collects: TMNT #13–20, Casey Jones, April, Fugitoid, Krang, and Baxter Stockman Micro-Series one-shots, and the Secret History of the Foot Clan mini-series
Collects: TMNT #21–28, Old Hob, Alopex, Karai, Hun, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Shredder Micro-Series one-shots, plus 2012 Annual
The third IDW collection consists of the turtle’s City Fall event, which should be read in the following order:
City Fall Reading Order:
Micro-Series #3: Old Hob
#7: Bebop and Rocksteady
Collects: TMNT #29–37, Utrom Empire, and the 2014 Annual
As far as I can tell the six issue Batman / TMNT crossover occurs outside regular turtles continuity. Doesn’t stop it from being a blast – highly recommended read for fans of the turtles and Batman.
Collects: TMNT #37 to #40
Collects: TMNT #41 to #44
Collects: TMNT #45 to #47, TMNT Free Comic Book Day 2015 (Read FCBD TMNT after TMNT #45)
Collects: TMNT #48 to #50
Collects: TMNT #51 to #55
Collects: TMNT #56 to #60