The Good Guys: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, Splinter, April O’Neil (All first appearance).
The Bad Guys: Bebop (Human), Rocksteady (Human), Bebop & Rocksteady’s Gang (Four Unnamed), Shredder, Foot Soldiers (All First Appearance)
And the Rest: Vernon Wells, Burne Thompson (First Appearance)
In a Half-Shell: April O’Neal reports on a wave of thefts to scientific operations. She is abandoned by her crew as an armed mob confronts her. She flees to the sewers where she is saved by four humanoid turtles. The turtles introduce April to their master, Splinter, and agree to help her investigation, leading them to a Ninja-themed shopping district. April investigates a security services building and is captured, then rescued by the turtles who flee the building as it is flooded to destruction. Splinter recognizes that the soldiers the turtles fought were garbed in the wear of the Foot Clan.
April O’Neil reports on a baffling robbery of three scientific equipment companies done by non-scientific weapons and apparently done by ninjas, judging by the equipment used. As the report wraps, April is approached by a gang of punks warning her to stop reporting on the crime wave. After April’s crew bails on her, she causes a distraction and flees through a storm drain into the sewers. The thugs chase her into a dead end, but they are suddenly thwarted by four shadowy figures who make short work of them.
As April thanks her rescuers, they emerge from the shadows to reveal themselves as human-sized turtles, causing her to pass out from the shock. April awakens to find herself in a furnished sewer dwelling where she is greeted by another humanoid animal, a rat wearing a kimono. As she explains why she was attacked, Splinter takes the time to tell her of their origins.
He tells the story of Hamato Yoshi, leader of a clan of ninja warriors known as the Foot, a peaceful man and lover of art. He also tells of Yoshi’s rival Oroku Saki, who sought to usurp Yoshi’s leadership of the Foot Clan. Upon a visit of a master sensei to the Foot, Saki made his move by planting a dagger in the robe of Yoshi, preventing him from bowing to the master. When he was called out for his disrespect, he pulled the dagger, appearing to try to kill the master. For his actions, he was cast out of the Foot and Saki turned the Clan into an army of crime.
In disgrace, Yoshi fled to America and made his home in the sewers, befriended by the rats as well as four baby turtles who had accidentally been dropped down a storm drain. One day he came home to find the turtles crawling in a strange mutagen ooze, which he too was exposed to when he removed them from it. Because they had been in contact with Yoshi, the turtles took on humanoid forms, but since Yoshi had most recently come in contact with the rats, he took on the form of a humanoid rat. The turtles nicknamed Yoshi Splinter, while he, in turn, named them after his favorite Renaissance artists: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael and trained them in the art of ninjitsu. The turtles tell her that they don’t know who was behind the mutagen, but they look to find out and force those responsible to return Splinter to his human form.
April accuses the turtles of being behind the robberies, which they argue. Convinced of their heroics in saving her, she still considers them news, but the turtles say that they do not want the scientific community coming after them for research and becoming prisoners in a glass bowl again. So until they come to some kind of agreement, they won’t let her leave. Her absence is noticed by her boss at Channel Six news, who wants his reporter back to cover the ongoing science lab heists. Finally, the turtles decide to help her get her story about the robberies as long as she leaves them out of it, as well as uses her resources to help find a way to return Splinter to normal.
The thugs return to their boss, a man decked out in a metal helmet and spiked armor, to tell them of their defeat in the sewers. He asks them if they appeared to be reptiles, to which the thugs say they couldn’t really see them. He dismisses them, saying that he must know if they were in fact turtles.
The turtles take April back to the scene of their fight to look for a clue left behind, finding a match book for a place called Ninja Pizzeria. April decides to check the place out, and the turtles insist on going along to protect her, but as soon as they emerge from the sewers, a little old lady pushing a grocery cart freaks out at their appearance and pulls a machine gun on them.
April decides to get them disguises, buying them trench coats and fedoras. They find their destination among a line of Ninja-themed shops including dry cleaning and a dentist.
As the turtles eat at the pizzeria, April heads across the street to a building owned by Manhattan Security Services. Investigating, she finds a receptionist lining up services for a science lab, which she sends a set of Foot Clan soldiers to rob. April tries to report her findings to her station but is pulled from the phone booth by a group of Foot Soldiers. The turtles emerge to find her wallet and press pass dropped outside of the booth, then follow the trail of her belongings to her purse, which is hanging off the edge of an abandoned building’s roof.
The turtles find April tied to a chair on the roof and are attacked by a mass of Foot Soldiers. As the fight begins, the turtles discover that the Soldiers are not humans, but automated robots, allowing them to cut loose and fight without fear of injuring their opponents. The armored villain watches the battle from his lair, recognizing their fighting style as that of the Foot Clan and surmises that Hamato Yoshi is still alive.
As the Foot Soldiers escape back to the roof of the Manhattan Securities building, the turtles rescue April and follow behind them. Inside, they find a display showing the metal-clad villain. He shuts down the display and unmasks himself to be Oroku Saki, saying that the Turtles must not be allowed to find his Technodrome. He puts out an announcement for all Foot to return to the Technodrome. The turtles try to follow, but the Foot Soldiers unleash an emergency flooding system, filling the building’s hallways with water. As the turtles escape back the way they came, the entire building collapses under the water’s pressure.
The turtles and April return to Splinter with the uniform of one of the Foot Soldiers, which he immediately identifies as the garb of the Foot Clan and deduces that Oroku Saki is behind the whole thing and that he is likely still at large.
- The origin story of the turtles has been cleaned up a little bit to take out all of the death involved. Originally, Splinter was the pet rat of Hamato Yoshi who fled to the sewers of New York upon the murder of his master. This is a much more kid-friendly origin.
- The mutagen has been changed too. Originally it was a compound that caused a mutation of growth in physical and mental attributes when exposed to. Here, it causes whoever is exposed to it to take the characteristics of the animal most recently in contact with.
- Almost all of the main cast make their debuts here, including the turtles, Splinter, Shredder, and April O’Neil. Bebop and Rocksteady appear as human thugs, though they are not yet named. For that matter, the name Shredder has not been used yet.
- Burne Thompson and Vernon Wells make their first appearances, though they don’t have much of a role here beyond wondering about April.
- How much water would it take to fill an entire high-rise building and make it collapse? You would also think that the sides of the structure would need to be water-tight. The logistics are mind-boggling.
- This is the first time the turtles use the trench coat/fedora disguise. It doesn’t cover their feet, hands, or faces but it seems to work as good of a disguise as any to get around.