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

Written by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz
Art by Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop
Introduction by Robert Rodriguez
Published by  IDW Publishing

 

Cowabunga!

The half-shell heroes are back in what could be their final adventure.

If you are looking for a slapstick comedy story about our pizza loving vigilantes of New York City, you can stop right there.

This book is heavy on tragedy and drama.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin written by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and Tom Waltz exchanges hijinks for tone similar to the Turtle’s origin story published by Mirage way back in the 80s.

This tale is full of grit, remorse and vengeance.

While the themes borrow heavily from your favorite dystopian dramas, like Escape From New York, Old Man Logan, and The Dark Knight Returns, the beauty of TNMT as a concept is that mutant turtle trained ninjas are all the originality you need.

TNMT, as characters developed outside of the Marvel and DC factories, was so much more than a successful comic.

They were a cultural phenomenon.

In the early 90s they targeted a younger demographic with cartoons, action figures, video games and a questionable film catalog that kept getting more bizarre with each entry. Let’s just say pairing Vanilla Ice and our heroes in a half shell on the same same screen was a weird choice to say the least.

What The Last Ronin does really well is harken back to the earlier stories where our mutant turtles, bent on revenge, struck hard and faded into the darkness. While the tone is far less optimistic than previous TNMT tales, The Last Ronin never loses sight of the themes that keep the core characters together; loyalty, tradition, and family.

The primary action takes place far into the future.

The Turtles are not longer teenagers or the powerful foursome that they once were. The Foot Clan, the Turtle’s mortal enemies, now run New York City like a military state.

Part of the fun of this book is tracing back how they all got to this point. You learn the fates of Splinter, Casey Jones, and April as well. The book is filled with timely mysteries and reveals. The pacing is quite brilliant. As a revenge tale this comic book receives high marks.

It is a creative take on the TNMT, and a nice bookend to their more humble beginnings. The final act gets a little muddled and way too grim, but the epilogue is a brilliant counterbalance proving that their legacy will continue.

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