The Marvel Characters That Make Fun Of The Most Famous Marvel Parody

By Zack Zagranis | Published

teenage mutant ninja turtles marvel

The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book was a Marvel parody of sorts, mixing elements from New Mutants and Daredevil. Marvel offered to publish the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic under its Epic imprint once it was clear the book was going to be a huge success. When Mirage Comics founders Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird turned down the offer, Marvel went ahead and created their own parody of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Power Pachyderms.

Delayed By A Year

If that name doesn’t immediately scream Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that’s because Marvel changed the comic’s original title of Adult Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants to something that sounded closer to the existing Marvel title Power Pack. Originally, Marvel’s TMNT parody was advertised for the summer of 1986—only two years after the Turtles themselves were born. Trouble locating an artist, however, led to the book being postponed until 1989.

They Didn’t Want To Sound Like All The Other Parodies

In the meantime, several other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle parodies were released. Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, Mildly Microwaved Pre-Pubescent Kung-Fu Gophers, Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos, and many more hit the shelves in that three-year period, beating Marvel to the punch. While never confirmed, it’s suspected that Marvel changed the name of their TMNT parody to avoid looking like the uncool posers who jump on a trend several years after it’s relevant.

The X-Men Plus… Elektra?

Power Pachyderms advertised itself as a parody of Marvel’s own X-Men, but it’s clear from the cover of Power Pachyderms #1, which features four anthropomorphic elephants fighting with martial arts weapons, what Marvel’s primary target was. Three of the Pachyderms are based on X-Men characters: Rumbo (Wolverine), Mammoth (Colossus), and Trunklops (we’ll let you figure that one out on your own). The fourth, Electralux, is an Elektra spoof.

Including Elektra in a group of X-Men knockoffs might seem weird until you realize A) it’s a way to get a character who uses sais—Raphael’s weapon—in the book, and B) Electrolux used to be a very popular brand of vacuum cleaners and elephant trunks can…suck stuff up like a vacuum hose? Look, we never said it was a particularly clever parody. There’s a reason there was never a Power Pachyderms issue #2.

Roast Pork Smash!

teenage mutant ninja turtles marvel

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles parody further rips off the original by having the Power Pachyderms’ origin tied into an existing Marvel character. This time, it’s the Incredible Hulk as a gamma bomb irradiates a circus car full of elephants. The comic briefly mentions that a scientist was “bathed in the full force of the mysterious gamma rays,” but instead of becoming a giant green monster, the familiar scientist is “instantly reduced to something resembling roast pork.” Ewwww.

The Four (?) Stooges

teenage mutant ninja turtles marvel

As lame as their origin is, the Pachyderm’s “training” is even worse. Because any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ripoff is practically required to know marital arts, the mutated turtles are taught to fight by Marvel’s version of the Three—er—Four Stooges. Moe, Larry, Curly, and, for some reason, Shemp appear as Shmoe, Shtick, Shpritz, and Shlep—a quartet of robed warrior monks. Are you laughing yet?

Even Hitmakers Have Their Stinkers

The fact that this stinker of a comics was written by Roger Stern, the man responsible for creating the Spider-Man enemy Hobgoblin and writing the Death of Superman, is frankly mind-boggling. Then again, Marvel didn’t really give Stern much to work with. Just the core concept of a giant comic book publisher taking shots at an indy book that took shots at them first rings hollow.

Gone And Absolutely Forgotten

teenage mutant ninja turtles marvel

Today, Power Pachyderms is largely regarded as a mostly humorless Marvel experiment that, along with most of the other TMNT parodies, has faded out of the public consciousness. The failed attempt at a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle satire represents one of Marvel’s low points and has been all but forgotten by comic book fans.

Power Pachyderms doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page–not that it deserves one.

robert downey jr

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