In what could have been one of the shortest series and rivalries in comic and superhero history, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kill Shredder in the very first comic. It’s not a quick death by any measure either. Shredder is killed by the Ninja Turtles with a brutality that’s almost unrivaled in comic history.
So I’m guessing that most of you are only familiar with the cartoon series and movies, which seem to be going the way of Transformers, Batman and Pirates of the Caribbean, they don’t know when to stop. The team of crime fighting teens in a half shell that most of us know are a very much a different force in the first comic. They weren’t trained to battle the forces of evil. They weren’t even trained to fight petty crime. They were raised and trained for the sole purpose of revenge.
Ok, so the story of how they became mutants and ninjas is the same in the comic as it is in the cartoon show and movies. They were splattered with radioactive ooze and became mutants. They were also trained by Splinter, arguably the world’s most terrifying and deadly rodent, who also resembled Yoda in many ways. The cartoon puts Splinter up as the typical martial arts master. Brave and wise. But the first comic had Splinter as nothing more that a cruel, twisted psychopath driven for thirteen years by nothing more than revenge. Now that’s what you call a childhood role model.
In the first comic Shredder reveals why he has spent the last 13 years training the band of armor plated mutants. He has trained the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to kill Shredder. Yep, kill him as in murder. Not bring him to justice to stand trial for his crimes. Just go out and kill the bastard in cold blood. That’s the only reason Splinter ever took them in and trained them. A personal vendetta against Shredder.
Being faithful and pre-programmed killing machines, the Ninja Turtles never once questioned their master or his motives. They just did as they were ordered. There was no loving relationship between them and Splinter, they were there to serve him, nothing more. So the gang of four mercenaries set out in pursuit of Shredder who they were going to murder, or die trying. Which brings us to the penultimate moment in the original comic.
The Ninja Turtles track down Shredder on the top of a building. There’s no real back story on why they hate him, and no build up of any hatred either. In fact, when they meet on the top of that building it’s for the first time. That’s when a brief battle takes place before a brutal vigilante murder.
Of all of the turtles to be the cold blooded killer, it’s Leonardo. He is supposed to be the cool, calm and collected one. The one member of the team who the others look towards for moral guidance. Yet he is the first to land a fatal blow, stabbing Shredder. But he didn’t die. This was going to be a brutal death.
After Leonardo had stabbed Shredder the other turtles surround the fatally injured villain (or victim?) They offer him the chance to die with honor by committing seppuku, which is suicide by disembowelment. Real G rated material there. He refuses the offer and fights on. The brave Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kill Shredder eventually, even though he was outnumbered and injured.
If you are thinking that this is pretty violent material and it was only because it was the first comic, you are wrong. Nearly all of the early comics were violent and a little sadistic. It wasn’t until it became a television cartoon that it was toned down a lot, but still too violent for the vocal joy kills of the world.