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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1’ (review)

Written by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz
Art by Kevin Eastman, Esau Escorza, Issac Escorza
Published by IDW Publishing


The comic book event of 2020 has finally arrived.

TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird revive an unpublished 1987 story concept with Tom Waltz penning the script.

In a future dystopian NYC patrolled by cyborg-ninja-cops, the loan surviving ninja turtle seeks vengeance for his fallen brothers. While Ronin’s identity was leaked online, no such reveal will occur here. Those who go in spoiler-free are rewarded for their patience.

The script wastes no time diving right into the action as Ronin’s inner dialogue fills in the blanks.

Ronin uses all four of the turtles’ iconic weapons skillfully, making it difficult to determine who’s donning the weathered black mask.

His departed brothers also haunt him, conversing with them throughout. Ronin welcomes their presence, providing some semblance of days long passed. Eastman, along with Esau and Issac Escorza, illustrates Ronin’s suicide mission like a video game. Each intense level is more challenging than the next. The big bad of the story is kind of who you’d expect.

Utter arrogance eventually turns to fear as he watches Ronin’s rampage all over the compound. No high-tech death trap can stop Ronin until the very last element of the final obstacle forces him to start at the beginning. The sheer will Ronin exudes makes his fall heartbreaking to watch.

Little Easter eggs and mentions of familiar names augment the story instead of merely wasting narrative real-estate. The biggest surprise besides Ronin’s identity is how the main antagonist responds to the attack. It’s not a reaction one would expect considering the history of the two parties. However, it’s the perfect complement to Ronin’s unbridled desire for revenge.

As for Ronin’s identity, it works exceedingly well. Losing loved ones is challenging enough; however, the damage done to Ronin’s psyche is seemingly immeasurable. Eastman takes the reader a wild ride from beginning to end, as Ronin’s real name is the last word spoken in the book. The oversized magazine format contains 48-pages in length that brilliantly exhibits the sweat equity that went into this engaging story.

If you’re a casual TMNT fan or a die-hard enthusiast of all things turtle power, The Last Ronin is worth every penny of its nine dollar price tag.

Grade: A+


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