It’s been a while since we got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1. Since its release The Last Ronin #1 has blown expectations out of the water as the issue quickly sold out and went back for multiple printings. There is good reason for that as not only does The Last Ronin #1 feature a reunion between TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird but is finally giving us the story of the last Turtle standing in an Old Man Logan style. With it being confirmed that Michelangelo is The Last Ronin what will happen next as the Foot Clan now know that he is still alive? Let’s find out with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2.
Story Writers: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Tom Waltz
Script Writers: Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman
Artists: Kevin Eastman, Esau & Isaac Escorza, and Ben Bishop
Colorist: Samuel Planta
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Waking up in bed April O’Neil remembers the night she and Casey Jones got engaged years ago. They get their place ready to announce it to the Turtles and Splinter over dinner.
Suddenly a bloody Raphael bursts into the apartment. Raphael quickly clears the dinning table so that the Michelangelo and Donatello can place a heavily injured Splinter down on it. The Turtles reveal that the Foot Clan broke the truce their clans had and attacked them as soon as they got out of the sewers to come over to April and Casey’s place. They go on to say that Splinter fought of the Foot Clan to give them a chance to escape. Leonardo ended up staying behind to fight off the foot when Splinter got injured.
As Raphael prepares to go out, Leonardo shows up saying he was able to lead Foot Clan away. Leonardo believes since they lost his trail the Foot Clan likely regrouped with Karai at the docks.
April tells the Turtles that Splinters injuries are fatal. With his final breathes Splinter talks about how Karai is trying to put an end to the war between the Oroku and Hamato Clans. Hearing this Raphael leaves before anyone can stop him.
In the present April starts to get up from bed but her memories of that horrible night cause her to throw her prosthetic leg in anger. Once she calms down April calls for Casey to help her.
In the kitchen, Michelangelo talks to the spirits of his brothers about how unbelievable that April is still alive after the explosion they all got caught in, which is the last memory Michelangelo says he has of everyone. As the spirits of his brothers discuss that night Michelangelo gets pissed off that they never did enough and that they always dragged him into every battle. As Michelangelo yells about how he went on the suicide mission for their honor the spirits of Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello are no longer there.
Michelangelo calms down and starts pouring some tea into four cups. Michelangelo raises his cup and promises to put an end to the Oroku Clan. As he says this the spirits of Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello return to raise their tea cups along with Michelangelo.
Flashing back to the past after the attack, Raphael wastes no time in heading straight to the docks, killing any Foot Clan member he comes across along the way.
At the docks Karai reprimands the Foot Clan for failing in the mission she gave them to kill the Turtles and Splinter. She goes on to say that with Splinters blood being spilled the truce between the Foot and Hamato Clans is broken so there is no turning back.
At that moment Raphael appears and starts killing every Foot Clan member in front of him. Even as he sustains injuries due to the Foot Clan’s numbers Raphael does not stop as he is dead set on reaching Karai. Eventually Raphael faces off against the Foot Clan’s Elite Guard. He is able to fight them all off and kill them.
Seeing all this Karai jumps into the fight and goes one-on-one with Raphael. Raphael and Karai end up going back and forth until they get to the edge of the docks. Raphael decides to grab Karai and throws both of them into the water in hopes of drowning her. As they sink Karai is able to stab Raphael in the throat, killing him, at the same time Raphael stabs her in the back. As Raphael’s dead body sinks further into the ocean someone is shown pulling Karai’s body out of the water.
In the present April finds Michelangelo walking around. There Michelangelo notices that April has a prosthetic arm and leg. He apologizes for that but April does not blame him as she is just happy he is alive.
While they catch up April mentions how Michelangelo has rattled the cages of the Foot Clan with his last mission. Michelangelo believes he should be dead from the injuries he sustained from the fall he took. April says that he likely survived because his mutation has progressed over the years to make him bigger, stronger, and gain the ability to heal faster.
April then calls out to Casey much to Michelangelo’s surprise. Casey turns out to be Casey Marie Jones, April and Casey’s daughter. Casey appears and mentions how much she has heard of Michelangelo and the Turtles from her mom.
At the Foot Clan’s headquarters Oroku Hiroto (Karai’s son) lets out his anger over Michelangelo’s escape by kicking the ass of all the Foot Clan members that allowed that to happen. Hiroto then tells his Elite Guard Captain to put out a full crackdown on the entire city. He then demands they find and kill Michelangelo or else suffer the same fate of Captain Ikusa, who Hiroto killed and is having crows eat his severed head.
Back underground, after finishing breakfast April and Casey explain how New York City has been split into three districts: Top, Middle, and Bottom. Casey says the lowest level is called Rock Bottom which is the old street level. April and Casey then reveal they are part of the underground resistance which they will talk to Michelangelo about in a bit.
Casey then takes Michelangelo to her training room where she has used old videos and books to learn as many forms of martial arts as possible. Its because of that Casey knows that Michelangelo attempted to commit seppuku. Michelangelo wonders if Casey mentioned that to her mom. Casey says she did not as she figured Michelangelo likely had it rough. She then asks Michelangelo what he has been up to since he disappeared.
Michelangelo reveals that after Leonardo and Donatello died and he thought April and Casey were also gone that he went up to the mountains. There he starved himself hoping he would die but his mutant body would not let him, instead it caused his body to get used the cold temperatures and lack of nutrients. Because of that Michelangelo decided to spend his time meditating and living in peace.
Eventually he was discovered by some gangs and attacked. This force Michelangelo to defend himself and kill his attackers. After that Michelangelo decided that his destiny was to redeem his family’s honor and end things in the battlefield. To accomplish that Michelangelo became a true ronin warrior by training and mastering all forms of martial arts, defeating anyone who stood in his way. Eventually Michelangelo completed his training and decided to return home to fulfill his destiny by killing the last Oroku.
Casey wonders what the last page of Michelangelo’s book that has “NO PEACE” written on it means. Michelangelo takes his book back and says it means his work is not done. Casey says that Michelangelo can help her crew take on the Foot Clan. Michelangelo is not interested in joining the resistance. Casey reminds Michelangelo that he wouldn’t be standing right now if it was for her helping him out.
Michelangelo chuckles at this statement. When Casey asks her what is so funny Michelangelo responds by saying he is not sure who she reminds him of more, her mom or dad.
Elsewhere April opens a safe with the word “Salo” written on it. She then pulls out the head of the Fugitoid from the safe. End of issue.
The Good: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2 is an action-packed follow-up to the first issue. But given how action focused the first issue was that is not what this needed to be. Instead, The Last Ronin #2 slows things down to provide some much-needed context into what took place to shape the world where Michelangelo is the only survivor of the Hamato Clan.
It is in the fact that The Last Ronin #2 shines the light on why Michelangelo is the last remaining Turtle that makes this such a great compliment to the first issue of this series. Here we are able to learn the details of what led the Foot Clan to eliminate the Hamato Clan and gain control of New York City. Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Tom Waltz do a great job in how they balance out all the flashbacks and present-day scenes so the focus isn’t lost on how everything we see plays into the bigger picture of The Last Ronin story.
The flashbacks focusing on what caused the Hamato and Oroku Clans to go to war and how that led to everyone but Michelangelo surviving was fascinating to watch. Working in the reason the Foot Clan’s attack on the Turtles and Splinter was a surprise because there was a truce between the two clans before this was smart. It makes sense that with Shredder gone that Splinter would try to create some peace with the two clans. Breaking the truce further highlights why was it that Karai would choose this moment in time to start the war between Hamato and Oroku Clans again.
The setting being on the same night that Casey and April were going to announce their engagement makes the events even more heartbreaking. Even if this ruined what would be a happy moment in their lives it was great to see April and Casey immediately jump into help their family. There was no talk about what they were going to announce. It was about how they could each help the Turtles and Splinter. This helped tell the story of how close they all are without beating you over the head with it.
This added to how you really felt for everyone as Splinter was passing away because of his fatal injuries. Having Splinters final words be spoken directly to Michelangelo was fitting to how he would turn out to be the last surviving Turtle. It added more fuel to why Michelangelo would take on his family honor in such a way as he was the one who Splinter told to end things with Karai and the Oroku Clan.
At the same time, you completely were placed in the mind set of Raphael as Karai breaking the truce is something that would piss you off. Raphael being the one to go off on his own and killing every Foot Clan member that got in his way to reach Karai made you feel his anger. Even as we saw him suffer major injuries Raphael used his anger to power through to even defeat the Elite Guard.
All of that made the build up to Karai jumping in coming across as more of a final boss fight. Every strike by Raphael and Karai looked like they were always going for the killing blow. That added tension to Raphael’s final attempt to kill Karai by drowning her. Karai remaining conscious long enough to kill Raphael further drove home how they were both looking to put an end to things. This also explains why in The Last Ronin #1 we saw Karai preserved in a containment unit as her injuries from this fight likely caused her current state. It also provides further motivation for Oroku Hiroto to kill all the Turtles and their allies because they are responsible for his mom’s possible death.
Continuing the flashbacks by focusing on what Michelangelo went through after he was the last survivor was good to see explained right away. Adding in how there was an unseen explosion that caused Michelangelo to believe that April and Casey were dead was an interesting move. Because while Michelangelo’s mutation has allowed him to grow stronger so he can survive the most extreme circumstances it seems that the explosion caused lasting brain damage. This seems to be part of why Michelangelo is imagining talking to his dead brothers as it is not just a survival guilt thing. What this means for the long-term will be interesting to see.
Having Kevin Eastman draw Michelangelo’s transformation into a ronin was a great touch. Seeing Eastman’s artwork in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book was just cool to see. It also gave a different feel to how harsh of a training that Michelangelo went through to master every form martial arts he could. The facial expressions as Michelangelo went from sage to ronin really drove home how motivated Mikey is to eliminate the Oroku and Foot Clans once and for all.
Given all that happened in her life after the fall of the Turtles it was good to see that April did not hold any contempt for Michelangelo. April was relieved more than anything that Michelangelo survived and you could tell some hope was brought back for her. Even though we know she has been through a lot since those events it looks like April has become a strong leader in the resistance against the Foot Clan. We see that with how she is supportive with her daughter, Casey Marie Jones, training on her own. The final page showing that April had stored the Fugitoid’s head creates a lot of questions for what she intends to do now and why she believes now is the time to use the Fugitoid.
Casey Marie Jones was also given a strong introduction to her full character. Casey growing up idolizing the Turtles because of the stories her mom told her was a nice touch to create an immediate connection between her and Michelangelo. Casey being able to lighten up Michelangelo and recruit him to the resistance through their conversation was great to see. This along with Casey showing enough drive to be a self-taught martial artist makes her one of the most interesting characters to follow in this series.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Tom Waltz did not disappoint in delivering a strong follow-up to the first issue of The Last Ronin series. Exploring the backstory of this world and how Michelangelo became the only surviving Turtle after Karai broke their truce was fascinating to watch play out. The addition of April O’Neil and Casey Marie Jones to the series strengthened how the story in The Last Ronin #2 unfolded. Now I’m looking forward to what happens in The Last Ronin next even more. This is definitely a comic book that everyone should be reading.
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