Today is a big day if you’re a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics put out by IDW Publishing, for today marks the release of the first issue of Shredder in Hell…the most metal sounding Turtles comic in the history of the world!!!!
Okay so, very quickly, Shredder in Hell(!!!!) tells the story of Oroku Saki as he travels through the very depths of the underworld looking to take control of his own fate and his very soul. Shredder in Hell(!!!!) is written and drawn by longtime TMNT artist Mateus Santolouco and this new story acts as a sequel to a previous story, also written and drawn by Santolouco, called The Secret History of the Foot Clan. This story goes into the shared history between the Shredder and the immortal and magical Kitsune. If that sounds like a lot to unpack, never fear. If for whatever reason Shredder in Hell(!!!!) is you first tentative steps into the IDW TMNT comics, you messed up and started in the wrong place. Start with the first issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or at the very least, start with issue fifty one. But, if you’re insisting on starting with the first issue of Shredder in Hell(!!!!), I’m going to go ahead and give you a small list of books you might want to go read before starting with this new miniseries.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5
The IDW Ninja Turtles strike a very different chord than virtually any other version of the Turtles you care to look at. Spoilers, but the Turtles origin in this series is all about reincarnation as it is genetic mutation. With issue five, you get your first glimpse at who Splinter and the Shredder were back when they were both mere soldiers for the Foot Clan…hundreds of years in the past. If that sounds a little too weird for you, don’t worry, in the context of the overall narrative, it’s very rewarding to see the Turtles in this new light.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol. 3 Shadows of the Past
Yes, you owe it to yourself to read this entire volume to bear witness to the first time the Turtles come face to face with the Shredder. And for that matter, look up the Leonardo Micro Series to see the first time Leonardo got his shell handed to him by Oroku Saki himself. The first twelve issues of this series are a slow burn, but when you get to somewhere around issue nine, the reader will get a massive shot in the arm from all the Ninjitsu and fisticuffs.
The Secret History of the Foot Clan
There is a lot to unpack with this mini-series when it comes to the backstory of the Foot, Shredder and even some new aspects of the Turtles. I won’t go into everything here, but I will say that you should read this story to get the scoop on the long history between the Shredder and his immortal love interest Kitsune, a member of the familial and mysterious Pantheon. Also, it is important to note the first mentioning of Takeshi Tatsuo, a man who not only formed the Foot Clan, but also plays an important role in Shredder in Hell(!!!!).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50
Okay, so this is kind of a jump, but this issue is the epitome of the term “game changer”. Shredder is challenged by the Turtles and Splinter to a tournament for not only their lives, but for the very soul of New York City. That may sound dramatic, but in reality, this is the throwdown we had been waiting years for at the time. If you can’t tell by the title, Shredder in Hell(!!!!) is a direct result of the climax of this story and there is a very unique and thoughtful side of the Shredder’s character revealed by this issues end. If nothing else, this issue proves that death is only the beginning.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 71
Finally, we have the issue that I feel truly sets up Shredder in Hell(!!!!) with issue seventy one. This issue see Kitsune and her several brothers and sisters meet for a dinner they hold once a generation to catch up and…compare notes, I guess. It’s in this issue that Kitsune finally explains her interest in Shredder and why she has invested so much time and resources into him, and it’s more than a matter of the heart. This issue has one of the single biggest “Holy Crap!” moments in the entire series. You won’t be disappointed. Or maybe you will, I don’t know. I liked it.
Honorable mention: City Fall
While not an essential story to fully enjoy Shredder in Hell(!!!!), this story is probably the single best example of why IDW is putting out the greatest Ninja Turtles comic book in the franchise’s history. The story of City Fall shows the Shredder nearly killing Casey Jones and brainwashing Leonardo to use against Splinter and the other Turtles, and truly shows that the Shredder has earned his place as the Turtles signature villain.