This comic was not on my radar at all. I was a fan of the Turtles when I was younger and I think back on that time with fond nostalgia. But I am not a huge devotee of the comic series or subsequent version. But there had been a lot of buzz about this book and it was sold out at stores everywhere. Luckily I was finally able to get my hands on the first issue.
And it was totally worth it.
The Last Ronin feels very much like Old Man Logan for TMNT. That may sound like an incredibly odd fit, but it works so well.
Set in a dystopian future, one of the Turtles is infiltrating a walled-in NYC that is run by the Foot Clan. Which Turtle? It isn't readily apparent. He wears a black mask and he has all of the weapons used by the four. He is worn and weathered and he is on a mission that just might be a suicide mission.
The entire issue is pure action as he infiltrates the bad guy's headquarters. The narration is simple, but that is a powerful plus in a book like this. Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are in no way phoning this one in. Their writing and art with Esau and Isaac Escorza is perfect for the book.
The thing that struck me about our hero was how as often as not he fails. He is full of amazing skill and pulls off fantastic feats. But he is facing such insurmountable odds that he sometimes barely makes progress. Or we see how age and fatigue cause him to make near fatal mistakes. He is not Batman who has ingeniously calculated 25 moves ahead. But he is also not some washed-up, has been shell (no pun intended) of his former self. He is prepared, skilled, and quick to improvise. But those improvisations don't always work out. The fact that he is not some unstoppable, invincible ninja makes the action all the more compelling and his struggle all the more desperate.
In fact, we get to see our hero brought to his absolute lowest and it is so heartbreaking. This leads us to the final page that has me excited for the next issue.
I don't know if the subsequent installments will be able to keep up this quality. But this first issue was a great and fun read from start to finish.