Image Comics is a United States comic book publisher. It was founded in 1992 by high-profile illustrators as a venue where creators could publish their material without giving up the copyrights to the characters they created, as creator-owned properties. It was immediately successful, and remains one of the largest comic book publishers in North America. Its output was originally dominated by work from the studios of the Image partners, but later included work by numerous independent creators. Its best-known series include SpawnInvincibleThe Walking DeadWitchbladeThe Nightly NewsThe Darkness, and Savage Dragon.

Erik Larsen came to the rescue in June 1996, with the publication of a third volume under the Image Comics banner. The 23 monthly issues were written by Gary Carlson and pencilled by Frank Fosco, and marked a return to black and white artwork. This volume is notable for having a faster pace and more intense action while inflicting major physical changes on the Turtles themselves; Leonardo losing a hand, Raphael’s face being scarred, Splinter becoming a bat, and Donatello becoming a cyborg. In a startling plot twist, Raphael even took on the identity of Shredder and assumed leadership of the Foot. With Volume 3, the Turtles were incorporated into the Image universe, which provided opportunities for a few crossovers and guest appearances by characters from The Savage Dragon series. The series ceased publication in 1999, and it is no longer considered part of the “official” TMNT canon due, in part, to a lack of desire by co-creator Peter Laird to follow-up material with which he was not directly involved nor fully approved. Raph’s depiction as the Shredder however, is referenced in an episode of the third season of the 2003 animated series “The Darkness Within“, where Raph is exposed to his fear of giving into anger and becoming the very thing he hates.

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