Labeling the Different Volumes of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Comics



IDW Publishing recently announced a relaunch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title that will be written by Eisner-award-winning writer Jason Aaron. This new series will officially become the seventh volume of comics to be published with the title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, it will become known as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. VI.”  Here’s how that all works out:

(Mirage Studios) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. I

  • May 1984 – August 1993
  • 62 issues
  • Obviously has to be “Vol. I” – it’s the first volume that started it all 40 years ago!
  • Similarly to how the first printings of the early issues in this volume weren’t branded with “First Printing” (since reprintings weren’t expected), this volume was simply known as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” until…

(Mirage Studios) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. II

(Image) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. III

  • June 1996 – October 1999
  • 23 issues
  • The third volume to be published, released after the completion of “Vol. II.”
  • Although this volume was by a different publisher (Image), it naturally became known as “Vol. III” simply because it followed the completion of the previous volume that was already officially labeled as “Vol. II.”
  • This volume was referred to as “Vol. III” by everyone in the comic industry from day one (although I can’t recall if it was solicited as such). I do remember seeing my pull box list at the comic shop with “TMNT Vol. III (all issues)” written on it. Old school for sure, but effective.
  • This volume was republished by IDW in 2018 under the title “TMNT: Urban Legends.”
  • This volume has never really been considered “canon” in the TMNT universe, mostly because Peter Laird completely ignored it when starting the “Vol. IV” run (which picked up where the “Vol. II” storyline ended, but fifteen years in the future).
  • Upon publication, had this volume been referred to (or become known as) “Image TMNT Vol. I” instead of “TMNT Vol. III,” then every TMNT volume that followed would have likely been labeled in that same way (i.e., via publisher first, then volume number within that same publisher second). But that didn’t happen so…

(Mirage Studios) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. IV

  • December 2001 – April 2008 (#1-29); May 2009 (#30); October 2010-digital / April 2015-print (#31); May 2014 (#32)
  • 32 issues
  • The fourth volume to be published, released after the completion of what had already become widely referred to as “Vol. III.” This volume picked up where the “Vol. II” storyline ended, but fifteen years in the future, completely ignoring the events of “Vol. III.”
  • As mentioned above for “Vol. III,” had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles volumes originally adopted a labeling methodology where volumes are up-numbered only when done by the same publisher, then this would have become “Mirage Studios TMNT Vol. III.” But, since “Vol. III” was already well-known as the Image volume, this volume just automatically became “Vol. IV.” I don’t recall this ever being in doubt – this volume was pretty much considered “Vol. IV” from the beginning. Since it’s truly the fourth volume to be published and even Mirage Studios referred to it as such, there’s not a whole lot to be argued here (outside of the non-canon Image “Vol. III” being thrown in the mix).

(Dreamwave) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. I-DW

  • June 2003 – December 2003
  • 7 issues
  • The fifth volume to be published, released during the same time period that “Vol. IV” (#10-13) was being published.
  • This volume was republished by IDW (digitally only) under the title “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Animated 2003.”
  • Technically, this could have been labeled as “Vol. V” and likely would have been had it not been for a few key things:
    • all issues of this volume were labeled as “Vol. 1” in the interior legal indicia, seemingly indicating from the start it was setting itself apart from previous volumes.
    • the first four issues were based solely on episodes of the 2003 television series, with only the final three issues containing unique stories – hardly enough to establish anything of substance.
    • it was released while “Vol. IV” was still in production and the contents of all the issues were much more like “TMNT Adventures” from Archie than a legitimate volume of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with an ongoing storyline.
    • it only lasted 7 issues.
  • For completeness, I feel this volume needs to somehow be included in the TMNT volumes mix so I personally landed on the label of “Vol. I-DW.” This ensures it stays true to its title, allowing it to be included alphabetically while also setting it apart as somewhat of an anomaly. Many opt to just exclude this volume altogether.
  • All to say, this volume is the reason why the traditional volume numbering we have today of “I-VI” doesn’t align with the total number of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles volumes published.

(IDW) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. V

  • August 2011 – April 2024
  • 150 issues
  • The sixth volume to be published, released approx. three years after “Vol. IV” ceased regular production (issue #29) and about two years after the TMNT property was sold to Viacom.
  • Given the previous volume numbering that had already been well-established, this volume naturally fit the label of “Vol. V.” It was either that or “Vol. VI” (while at the same time re-labeling the Dreamwave series as “Vol. V”) – which would essentially be a re-write of pre-established TMNT publishing history. The Dreamwave series had never previously been referred to as “Vol. V.”
  • For those that prefer to up-number only the volumes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that fall within the original Mirage canon (i.e., based on the TMNT continuity from Vol. I-IV above), then this would be labeled something like “IDW TMNT Vol. I” or “TMNT IDW Vol. I” or “IDW TMNT (2011).”

(IDW) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. VI

  • July 2024 – TBD
  • Ongoing issues to begin with #1 in July 2024
  • The seventh volume to be published, to be released three months after “Vol. V” ends.
  • The title of “Vol. VI” is a logical progression from “Vol. V.”
  • For those that prefer to up-number only the volumes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that fall within the original Mirage canon (i.e., based on the TMNT continuity from Vol. I-IV above), then this would be labeled something like “IDW TMNT Vol. II” or “TMNT IDW Vol. II” or “IDW TMNT (2024).”

So, there it is – the history of how all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles volumes (to date) received their labeling. This labeling methodology was largely established naturally – all on its own – simply by virtue of how the volumes were branded (or widely referred to) upon their initial release. While most of this “natural” labeling was simply a result of their release order, an important bit of it also has to do with the content and longevity of one particular volume.

As we all celebrate 40 wonderful years of TMNT comics history, it’s fitting to have at our doorstep yet another volume of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to anticipate. And now you know how it will be labeled (and why).

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