The last ronin stands revealed as familiar and different allies emerge as the clocks turn back to showcase the tragic path that led to this dark future.
Dark futures full of older, broken and scarred versions of characters we know and love is a staple of most fiction. A common step in these stories, after laying out what the world/stakes look like, is to take a trip back to paint the picture of the beginning of the end. That is exactly what we get with the second issue of IDW Publishing’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin.
Based on a long percolating story from the minds of original creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, with story assistance from longtime TMNT writer Tom Waltz who also scripted with Eastman, the series features the last remaining member of the Hamato clan on a quest for vengeance against the Oroku/Foot Clan. While it was known from the first issue that the other Turtles had fallen, the scope and the hows of the loss were still a mystery till now.
Eastman and Waltz bring over a lot of the energy and sensibility that was seen during the work that was done on IDW’s rebooted TMNT over the years, kicked up to 11 as so much has changed. Unlike many flashbacks in these types of stories, the duo doesn’t let the flashbacks take away from the rest of the storyline since they only have a set number of issues and pages for this story. Flashbacks are interspersed between future set bits that move the first issue story forward, both from the last Ronin and ally’s perspective, as well as that of the Foot Clan as they seek to hunt him down.
While we only get a glimpse of the tragic events of the past, this is fitting because to try and fit in the losses and give them weight in just a handful of pages would do a disservice to the characters.
This series incorporates many elements that are familiar to any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan but does so in a way that does not nail down exactly which continuity we have seen before, if it’s any of them, it might fit into. It is a beast in and of itself pulling upon the history of the franchise as a whole.
Because of it pulling from these sources there are moments where the actions of certain characters will be a given or predictable but in a way that makes it even more tragic when things go awry. Normally the characters get to walk away from the traits and choices that might usually cause them to stumble, but not this time.
Esau and Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, and Kevin Eastman handle the pencils and inks of the issue and present an artist jam type of issue where it is almost seamless because the styles complement one another & often almost go unnoticed when they change. Eastman even making a return to the original style series art for a sequence deep in the issue.
Luis Antonio Delgado’s color work with the assistance of Samuel Plata is really great, especially as they incorporated the often well-used trick of coloring the flashbacks a slightly brighter color to stand them apart from the slightly darker tones of the present/future set scenes.
There are some truly gorgeous pages within the issue, and strangely enough, some of those pages happen to be some of the most brutal and sad ones. There is one especially centered around the fate of a particular Turtle that is gorgeously rendered, but ultimately utterly heartbreaking.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2 from IDW Publishing is on sale now at local comic shops and digitally through ComiXology.