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Review – TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 (IDW Publishing)

TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 (IDW Publishing) cover (detail) by Kevin Eastman Esau Escorza and Issac Escorza
  • Writing - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Art - 9.2/10
    9.2/10
  • Overall - 9.3/10
    9.3/10

TMNT: The Last Ronin #1

Story: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Pencils/Inks: Esau & Isaac Escorza
Colorist: Luis Antonio Delgado
Art page 39: Ben Bishop with color assist by Samuel Plata
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Maturity Rating: Teen+
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: October 28, 2020

One surviving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle seeks revenge for his fallen brothers. Far in the future, one mutant survives. In a wasteland that used to be New York City, the Turtle seeks one thing and one thing only: vengeance for himself and his family!

Overall
9.3/10
9.3/10
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“TMNT NEVER DIES” TMNT: The Last Ronin #1

Spoiler-Free!

It is finally here! My most anticipated book of the year: TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 (of 5)! There has been a ton of hype around this series, and rightfully so. It comes from an outline of a story Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman (co-creators of TMNT) cooked up way back in 1987 (hey, that is the year I was born, so it’s not that “way back”). It is a story they dreamed up about ending the original run of TMNT from Mirage Studios. With words like The Dark Knight Returns being thrown around, it is hard not to be excited about TMNT: The Last Ronin

TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 (IDW Publishing) cover by Kevin Eastman Esau Escorza and Issac Escorza
TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 (IDW Publishing) cover by Kevin Eastman, Esau Escorza, and Issac Escorza

TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 finds us far in the future. New York City is a polluted wasteland. Only one TMNT brother is surviving and he is seeking revenge for his fallen family. What happened to bring the downfall of the Turtles? Who is the last brother alive, and what will he do to get his revenge? You gotta read the issue to find out all of these answers and more!

Writing

So, as noted from the start TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 is built from a script Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman dreamed up in 1987. Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz have come together to add some meat and potatoes to it. The issue oozes that old indie style of the 1980s. If you are a fan of the Mirage days of TMNT or that era of comics you will feel right at home. Great use of narration boxes, something that was commonly used back in the day but is sparsely used in current comics. Waltz and Eastman do a great job of using it to help build the story.

But it also feels current, as well. The characterizations feel close to home to the old Mirage days and the current IDW run. But it also has similarities with the current IDW run with storytelling. Waltz and Eastman do a great balancing act between the two of them.

The story itself starts off strong and does not let up until the final page. Great build-up through the pages as we follow this elder, battle-worn Mutant Turtle (way past his teenage years). The tone set through the dialogue is tremendous. It is grim and gritty, but there is still that tease of fun and lightheartedness that balances it all out.

The story in TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 kept me engaged from page to page, from attempting to guess who the final Turtle standing was (nice final page reveal of that), to just being engulfed in this new story. This first issue not only does a fantastic job of building this world and characters but also gets you extremely excited for the next four issues.

Art

Originally TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 had Andy Kuhn credited for art, whom I am a big fan of. I was a bit disappointed to see Esau and Isaac Escorza credited for pencils and inks with Eastman still on layouts. That was until I saw the pages. Stunning work by Esau and Isaac Escorza. Again, much like the story, the art has that “throwback” Mirage days feel to it (much credit to Kevin Eastman’s layouts for that).

Lovely thick textured lines throughout the issue. Everything has a nice grit and grain to it. I love that the “last Ronin” Turtle has a ton of wear and tear on him. Full of scars and wrinkles, his body tells a story. He also has this heft and weight to him that lets you know he is well past his prime days, but also not to be mucked with, still.

Delightful layouts and visual storytelling, as well, throughout the issue. The visuals pace well with the story being told and everything has a nice visual movement to it as the story plays out. The action scenes are well done; great sense of impact and movement and also some wonderful character acting, as well.

Have to give great credit to colorist Luis Antonio Delgado. He does a bang-up job of capturing this future world. He makes it bright and colorful, yet grim and gritty at the same time. Also, Shawn Lee, on lettering, does a tremendous job of making that Mirage older comic feel with his lettering. His slight changes in lettering style are the icing on the cake of TMNT: The Last Ronin #1.

Conclusion

I was super excited to read TMNT: The Last Ronin #1, but was trying not to get too hyped. Luckily, from the opening pages, The Last Ronin #1 is a fantastic start to this 5-issue mini-series. If you are a fan of the Mirage days of TMNT then you will feel right at home. If you are not as familiar it may take some adjusting, but any TMNT fan can pick this up and enjoy.

One lone Mutant Turtle is left in the futuristic wasteland that was New York City. Which brother survived and what happened to his family? A tale of revenge, honor, and family, TMNT: The Last Ronin is an action-packed ride and lives up to all the hype.


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