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Origin Story

Origin story? Every long-standing superhero or team has multiple ones.

At the moment, I’m reading a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles graphic novel, Shell Unleashed. Although the main characters are (a) turtles, (b) ninjas, (c) mutants and (d) teenagers, I’d still count it as part of the superhero genre.

It turns out this is a new version (2016) of the group’s origin story – the turtles are initially in a lab until thrown outside during a ninja attack and exposed to an alien serum that anthropomorphises them. In this one, Raphael is initially separated from the group while still in turtle form and the first main mission is to find him and reunite. The turtles and their rat master, Splinter, are reincarnations of a family from feudal japan (and that’s about as far as I’ve got so far).

The previous TMNT novel I read was from 2011, which has Splinter learning his martial arts from his master (Yoshi?) who was killed by arch villain, The Shredder. That’s more ‘traditional’ and inline with the 1980’s original, which I gorged on back in the day (both via graphic novel compilations of the original comics and the roleplaying game). Each film of the franchise I’ve seen also retells the origin story to its own ends and, if I was really studying this in an academic way, I imagine I’d find a few more versions too.

Where do you come from? If you are a superhero (and, perhaps even not), it depends on which time you retelling it. It is probably true of any hero or villain who makes it past their first ‘incarnation’ (eg. Sherlock Holmes) but accelerated by the superhero genre, which seems to count generations of readers in handfuls of years.

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