Classic and modern Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continue to find a perfectly balanced marriage within this darkly tragic but empowering series that deals with heavy emotions and the fight for one’s very future. This balance is mirrored within the various complementary art styles that seamlessly blend together to form a wonderful journey from beginning to end.
It’s been quite a few months since the previous issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin dropped, showcasing the tragic loses of the Turtles in the past and the desperate fight for the future by the final Turtle and allies. A lot has happened in that time within the comic realm and the world. Despite those few months, this was one of those situations where the wait definitely paid off.
The large art team of Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, Kevin Eastman, Luis Antonio Delgado, Samuel Plata and Shawn Lee continue to bring this dark broken dystopian world to life while easily sliding into the tragic flashback sequences. It’s quite rare to have artist jams of this nature come together so seamlessly. There are usually some styles that slightly clash in a way that the eye can’t help but notice, but that is not the case here.
The only part that is different is that of Eastman pulling from the TMNT roots for specific pages and panels done in the older style for emphasis and a remembrance of where the series came from. In a way, both the tragic “past” sequences and the dystopian era under Foot control are in the future when one compares them to the Turtles run that came before. Eastman’s panels serve as a way to connect the eras together and make it easy to believe that the events shown in the pages were possibly some of the natural realms that things might have gone if that original run had continued and been somewhat different.
There is a worn-out looking shadowy texture of sorts that clings to the brighter colors of the dystopian future, giving it a bright look but also hammering home the darkness of the era. While the flashbacks are also colorful but in a different way. They have almost a sepia filter tone applied to them, making sure that they stand out as the flashbacks. Even with the tragic events, it gives them almost the nostalgic memory sort of look to them that we expect of “older” imagery.
Lee is the letter master across all the Turtle books these days and gets to really do some fun and more stylized things here and it’s really working. At the same time, there is a continuity of sorts with his work across the books that is comforting and gives the books all a shared personality no matter who is on the art or writing.
Tom Waltz and Eastman are a solid pair who bring a lot of the energy they had doing the rebooted IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series over here to work off the story that Eastman and Peter Laird came up with many years ago. The character voices are spot-on while also being clearly ‘elevated’ in the sense that they are older and been through so much. Meshing well with the newer characters like the young Casey (daughter of April and Casey Jones) and Oroku Hiroto (son of Oroku Kairi and grandson of Oroku Hisaki).
Hiroto especially is very colorful as a character, very big and bold and seemingly losing his grip on sanity a bit as he falls further into the darkness and mad power.
Even the most tragic final moments of beloved characters have a lot of heart and even humor in them, which is befitting of the characters. There are even a few nice callbacks to the 90s movie within this film that brought a smile to this old fan’s face.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #3 is now on sale from IDW Publishing in print and digitally.