Story: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman
Page Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Pencils / Inks: Esau + Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, Kevin Eastman
Color assistance: Samuel Plata
Colorist: Luis Antonio Delgado
Release Date: September 22nd, 2021
IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin is quickly becoming one of my favorite stories in the franchises nearly 40 year history. The Last Ronin serves as both an epilogue and a renaissance for the gritty Mirage comics of the 80’s and 90’s. While exciting and action packed, the series is ultimately a somber tale about loss, grief and a family torn apart.
Issue #4 of The Last Ronin reveals the untimely fate of Donatello and Master Splinter. Michelangelo and April’s team take on Baxter Stockman. And Michelangelo becomes a sensei!
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Under the care of April O’Neil and her daughter, Michelangelo has been recuperating from his failed attack on foot headquarters.
In the previous issue of The Last Ronin flashbacks revealed Baxter Stockman’s fatal blow to the Turtles in NYC. With Donnie and Splinter en route to Japan for negotiations with the Foot, Stockman coordinated a massive mouser attack on the Turtle’s lair. Professor Honeycutt, the Fugitoid, self-destructed to prevent Baxter Stockman from exploiting him and his technology. Leo and Casey were killed. Michelangelo, having miraculously survived but in a traumatised and concussed state, presumed April dead. Michelangelo left NYC, leaving April to recover and raise a child alone.
April does machines! In this issue of The Last Ronin April has been preparing for a final confrontation with Hiroto and the Foot for a long time. And she’s been building! But Stockman is a wildcard that must be dealt with before anything can be done about the Foot Clans occupation of the city.
Michelangelo and Casey Marie’s relationship deepens as he agrees to be her sensei. In training, Michelangelo determines that Casey has abilities beyond that of normal humans.
Michelangelo reveals to April what he found when he went to Japan looking for Donnie and Splinter.
Layouts are by Eastman. Main story pages are by the Escorza brothers. Flashback sequences are by Ben Bishop. Michelangelo’s solo flashbacks are entirely by Kevin Eastman. This dynamic just works.
I’ve loved the style of The Last Ronin since the first issue. But this issue in particular goes heavy into the flashbacks. There’s flashbacks to a few hours ago. There’s flashbacks to years ago. There’s flashbacks within flashbacks. It’s not confusing whatsoever thanks to the thoughtful use of style to delineate the different sections of the story.
Ben Bishop’s Japan flashback pages sing. All of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin looks great. But the dynamism of Bishop’s pages in this issue are thrilling.
One more issue of The Last Ronin left! It’s been a fun ride. There can’t be too many surprises left, can there? All that’s left is a final confrontation with Hiroto and the Foot.
Issue #4 was yet another satisfying instalment. I’d love to spend more time exploring April as the scientist, mechanic and mastermind of the operation. Sensei Michelangelo training Casey Marie Jones is also something I’d love to see more of.
So many characters have died. I don’t know if anyone will be left standing at the end of the series. I look forward to seeing who survives the conclusion to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin in #5, which currently doesn’t have a release date.