Once again, The Last Ronin finds the absolute perfect balance between telling a new, emotionally involving Turtles story filled with breadth of character and scads of action while also feeding the nostalgia of the comic book I grew up with. It isn’t just about filling the stories with recognizable and now world-weary faces, but also by giving us moments of the classic black-and-white artwork. My heart beats faster when I read new issues of this series.
There’s a great passage in which the remaining Turtle finds himself acting as Sensei to Casey, and it’s light, it’s funny, and that specific Turtle’s voice just sings. This book wears its heart on its sleeves, because of all the Turtles, that’s where his heart always was. But in this moment, it’s more than just simple sparring; revelations about the characters are revealed - an unlikely connection. Connection by osmosis! It’s wonderful storytelling both on a scripting level but also on an artistic level. With Eastman doing the layouts, Esau and Isaac Escorza really bring the visual story to life on the page. There’s never a story beat lost and with all the action that’s occurring, it would be easy to lose the reader. Thankfully, their skills allow the emotional intensity to shift from one panel through the gutter and into the next panel.
The flashback revealing what happened to Master Splinter and my own personal favorite Turtle, while emotionally heart wrenching, is also badass. It could have been a storytelling moment in which they focused on the brutality of what happened, but there’s more care in the crafting here. This story isn’t senseless; it isn’t here to just show us what happened as a way to shock us into an emotional catharsis. It cares about the characters and how we perceive them. It honors them, especially in their deaths.
This remains not only an invigorating Turtles tale, but an important one. Maybe one of the most important ones.
Creative Team: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz (story), Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman (script), Kevin Eastman (layouts), Esau and Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, and Kevin Eastman (pencils/inks), Samuel Plata (color assistance), Luis Antonio Delgado (colors), Shawn Lee (letters), R.G Llarena (additional editorial coordination), Bobby Curnow (edits)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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