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This post is part of a series about what was inside this month’s big box of free comics.

teenage mutant ninja turtles 6 wraparound cover.PNG

The Return to New York story in the original TMNT series #19–21 is even better than I remember. I think I was in turtle overload when I read it years ago, and I’d forgotten much of it. Visually, it’s one of the greatest TMNT stories of all time, with stunningly detailed artwork, creative layouts, extensively choreographed fight scenes, and incredible double-splash pages.

The black & white artwork creatively uses both black and white ink in addition to detailed screentone shading (sometimes called by the brand name Zip-A-Tone). The result is some of my favorite artwork in any TMNT story, and it’s a joy to watch the Turtles hack and slash their way through sewers full of enemies while their new Triceraton friend destroys everything in sight with his blaster.

But I was in for a shock when I read issue #6. It wasn’t just the wraparound cover that’s even more awesome than I remember. It wasn’t just the visual splendor of Turtles and Triceratons in combat. No, the shock was the discovery of just how many ideas I apparently stole from this single issue for my fiction series, The Adventures of Meteor Mags and Patches.

Issue #6 has asteroids, dinosaur-type aliens in a combat ring fighting to the death, a ruling body referred to only as the High Council, silly satire, aliens who dislike mammals (“Shut your face, you puny piece of mammal droppings!”), heroes who insult the dino-aliens (“Where I come from, bozos like you know their place — in museums, displayed as skeletons of long-dead ancient freaks!”), fight scenes that last for several pages with scant dialogue, and a shoot-out while attempting to board a spaceship. Somehow, this mid-1980s masterpiece burrowed so deeply into my brain that I was unconsciously drawing on it for inspiration decades later.

I wasn’t planning on picking up the original ten issues of the series, but after reading #6, I want to read the whole storyline again!

Collector’s Guide: From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6. Reprinted in: Ultimate Collection Hardcover #1. Also from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #19-21, Return to New York. Reprinted in Ultimate Collection Hardcover #3.