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COMIC REVIEW: The Last Ronin #1

by Chris M. P.

TMNT: The Last Ronin

Story by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz 

Art by Kevin Eastman, Esau Escorza, Isaac Escorza 

Published by IDW 

Released October 28th, 2020

It’s the TMNT event of 2020! Springing from the minds of TMNT co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comes an epic like you’ve never seen before! In a future NYC far different than the one we know today, a lone surviving Turtle goes on a seemingly hopeless mission to obtain justice for his fallen family and friends. Kinetic layouts from Eastman, inks from Esau and Isaac Escorza and a thrilling script full of surprises from longtime TMNT scribe Tom Waltz all combine to make this one of the most memorable TMNT stories you will ever read!

Oversized in both format and page count, this is a perennial TMNT tale that can’t be missed!

Part 1 of 5: WISH FOR DEATH…

It’s been a long time coming hasn’t it? The “Old Man” trope has been a popular theme among comic titles for the past decade. But it hasn’t been applied to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I mean, they have “teenage” in their name afterall. Yet here we are. Of course, creators Eastman and Laird had this idea way back in ‘87 when our Teenage Turtles were just infants within comic panels…so I guess you can say this is the first time in nearly twenty years that they’ve collaborated for a Turtle story. Which is reason enough to pick this title up. For our Turtles are no longer teenagers…in fact…there are no turtles anymore at all. Just one brother remains. And that’s where The Last Ronin begins…

We catch up with the Last Ninja Turtle sneaking into the lower east side of Manhattan. Being haunted (and carrying a conversation) with his fallen Turtle-brethren. New York City looks like a mixture of Blade Runner and Back to the Future 2 with a few lines referencing classic 80’s pop culture cementing the roots of TMNT…as well as showing his age. The first chapter moves briskly and gives us glimpses of the world we’re now inhabiting. Eastman, Laird, and Waltzs’ fingerprints could be felt in dialogue alone. This chapter reads like a classic TMNT tale. A mixture of 80’s era Frank Miller grit. It feels familiar and cynical. Our Last Ronin runs through the cyber-punk streets taking out cybernetic Foot Soldiers all while making his way to a bird-obsessed Oroku Hiroto: The Shredder’s grandson. 

It seems like Hiroto and this Mutant Turtle have a history (don’t they all?). Decades worth as mentioned briefly. It seems Hiroto (using Stockman tech) is on a mission to revive his mother, Karai, Mr. Freeze-style. Our Last Ronin fails his mission of revenge and upon realizing his devastating injuries…decides it’s time to attempt seppuku…where he’s stopped by a young woman earlier referred to simply as  “Jones”. Our Last Ronin regains consciousness with familiar company…as we’re told which Turtle Brother is our lone survivor. This first (of five) issue reads like a sweeping motion. It maintains a certain energy and does not let go until the very end. The writing is feral, quick, and frantic as it should be…since we’re accompanying our Turtle brother on a quick mission of revenge. Esau and Isaac’s artwork is striking and familiar. A lot of pinks and teals within the futuristic city makes for an alluring read. Yet the palette swaps for dingy darks when needed…to allow for that classic TMNT grittiness in which their old comics are known for. It looks fresh…yet fits alongside those early Eastman and Laird collected colored comics from that late 1980’s.  

Part 1 of The Last Ronin is brisk, action packed, and intriguing to say the least. The idea alone is something that any TMNT fan would want to read about. I’d almost guarantee every chapter will be filled with nods, fanfare, and reveals to keep us hooked…as this one was. Yet I’m excited to see just where this all leads to…and what exactly it’s trying to say…as, essentially, we may be seeing how it “ends” for the TMNT. With tight exciting writing and stylistic art to match, TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 should be on the “to-read” list of most comic readers this month. I love what I was given. But, like eating one single slice of pizza, it was a tease…and I’m ready for the whole pie. 



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