Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s long-gestating ‘final’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle story continues to bring a whole new life and situation for the beloved characters of this franchise. It’s brimming with gory battles, dystopian forces and rebellions, great character moments, and more tragic moments centering around these pop culture icons.
At long last, the journey of last standing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle through a dystopian future continues, with the latest issue of IDW Publishing’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin.
While much of this issue is dedicated to the rebellion’s battle to take control of the fortress of one Baxter Stockman, there is still room to fill in some gaps between the issues as well as the final tragic flashback showcasing how the rest of Michelangelo’s family died.
Just like the last issues, this one comes with the massive art team of Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, Kevin Eastman, Samuel Plata, Luis Delgado, and Shawn Lee. It remains truly impressive how they have managed to integrate the variety of styles together in such an effective way. Using Eastman’s old school style as the bridge between the ‘present day’ sections of the story and the tragic flashback pages remains a very nice touch. It reminds us of where the franchise came from so long ago right alongside where it has gone and is going.
We get some varied colorful filters that cover the tragic flashback pages, adding an even more beautiful aspect to the tragedy of these pages. It hits the button of being an indicator of memory but also adds so much depth to the events. Even though we’re watching characters that many of us have been fans of for a long time die, the art makes sure it’s not too hard to look at in the long run.
All the action scenes, both past, and present are energetic and detailed, and dynamic. The age and wear and tear on these characters are clear in each move and each image of them. Despite the dystopian era and tragedy and losing of himself, there are still flashes of the old Mikey in the way that the character moves through the pages and other small actions.
When it comes to the Turtle books, Lee is just a master of the domain for lettering. His work is found across many of the TMNT books and nails it every time. If there is someone that is a lynchpin or bringer of stability to this small, shared universe of TMNT, it’s definitely him.
There is just such a fresh and fun style to his lettering whether it’s the dialogue or the SFX that dot the pages. Especially during those flashback pages, gazing upon the brutal and bloody satisfying SFX as Splinter avenges his sons and fights for his very life.
Despite there being a lot of fighting in this issue, Tom Waltz and Eastman, working off plans from Eastman and Peter Laird, advance the overall story while not forgetting to take time for very needed character moments. Just the small flashback to Michelangelo becoming the mentor to young Casey (by fighting her and goading her on) and subsequent conversations with April are wonderful. Then there is the aforementioned final stand of Splinter and Donatello and the final battle with Stockman that add so much to this story and growing world.
It’s hard to say where this will all go with one final issue to go, but the ride has been very interesting and fun so far. This is a story where it’s hard to fully know the words to explain it, as it must be experienced to get the full picture. The few-month gaps are understandable, but this will probably read so good when in a fully collected format.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #4 is now on sale in print and digitally from IDW Publishing.