Its finally here! After months, but what has really felt like years, of waiting the final issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin is finally here. When I saw that this comic book was on my new arrivals for this week I was immediately hyped from the surprise. TMNT: The Last Ronin has been one of those comic book reading experience that I’m happy whenever a new issue has come out. The wait between issues has been no big deal as I know how big of a deal this story is for Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz, and the rest of the creative team. Now that the final issue is here let’s find out how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #5 ends.
Story: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Tom Waltz
Script Writers: Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman
Artists: Kevin Eastman, Esau Escorza, Isaac Escorza, and Ben Bishop
Colorists: Samuel Planta, Luis Antonio, and Ronda Pattison
Done with the ghost of his brothers calling him out for not going after Oroku Hiroto right away, Michelangelo says if he cannot be reckless and set himself up to fail April, Casey, and the others. He thenThe ghosts of Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael to leave him alone
Over in the Foot Clan’s headquarters Oroku Hiroto is done with his army failing and goes to grab his armor.
Underground Casey finds her mom trying to fix the flooding problem and learns that Michelangelo is gone. Hearing her sensei went it alone pisses off Casey and finally confronts her mom over being a mutant. April admits her exposure to the Turtles likely made it so Casey became a mutant but they must let Michelangelo finish his fight. Casey is says she is in this fight as well.
At the Foot Clan’s headquarters Michelangelo uses bombs to blow up part of the tower. This provides Michelangelo the opening to attack all the Foot Clan members.
Michelangelo finally makes it to the top floor where Hiroto is waiting for him. Hiroto reveals he only kept mother alive out of spite, showing this by destroying the container keeping Karai alive.
Michelangelo and Hiroto fight all over the tower as it is burning down from the previous explosions. Another explosion happens that sends both fighters out of the building. Michelangelo and Hiroto end up on a rooftop with Hiroto gaining the advantage thanks to his armor. Hiroto’s own overconfidence provides Michelangelo an opening to knock Hiroto off the building.
With the fall damaging Hiroto’s armor Michelangelo uses his brothers weapons to destroy more of Hiroto’s Shredder armor. Hiroto is able to slash Michelangelo to severely injure him. To gain some distance and slow down the bleeding Michelangelo goes into the sewer. Hiroto eventually finds him and they continue their fight.
Meanwhile, April is able to redirect the water back to the river. Casey shows up and is able to save her mom from being washed away by the water.
This redirection ends up helping Michelangelo as the water goes through the sewer he and Hiroto were fighting to send them outside. Michelangelo is able to use Hiroto barely being able to stand to completely demolish him. In one last desperate attack Hiroto unleashes an electric field to try to fry both himself and Michelangelo to death.
When the attack is done Hiroto is shown floating in the water dead while Michelangelo is able to walk back to the shore before collapsing.
Casey and April find Michelangelo. In his final moments Michelangelo gives Casey the notebook he has been writing, revealing he made it to leave for Casey. He then shows her the last page with the words “Know Peace” written in huge letters. Michelangelo then passes away as April bids farewell to her friend.
In the afterlife Michelangelo wakes up to find himself in his teenage form with his brothers waking him up to join them for a rooftop race. The Turtles races ends with them meeting up with Splinter and Casey Jones to admire the sunset together.
Sometime later, Casey is continuing her training. She then joins her mom in a lab where it is shown that April and Casey are working together to raise new mutant turtles together. End of story.
At the end of the day Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin was an intense character study focusing on what it means for Michelangelo to be the last surviving member of his family. How the story of his family’s fall leads to the state of New York City in the present was the main driving force for The Last Ronin. That does mean that when it came down to Oroku Hiroto never developing into a fully realized big bad of the story.
Going right into it, Oroku Hiroto was never a deep villain. He was not developed as anything more than the personification of how the Foot Clan destroyed the Hamato Clan and the one Michelangelo ultimately defeats to satisfy his revenge. You see that even in how The Last Ronin #5 concludes that the creative team recognizes this as the story quickly becomes about how Michelangelo defeats him. And honestly it didn’t need to be more than that.
Because, as we saw with how The Last Ronin #5 opened, this story was about Michelangelo finding peace with himself. As he tells the ghosts of his brothers, he could not be the same reckless fighter he was at the beginning of The Last Ronin. In meeting back up with April O’Neil and training her daughter, Casey Marie Jones, Michelangelo did regain what it means to fight for more than just himself.
Having Michelangelo come to realize this really showed how the ghosts of Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael were more of a manifestation of his own anger of failing his family in the past then them actually being the spirits of his brothers guiding him. Kevin Eastman, Esau Escorza, Isaac Escorza did a really great job in this instance with how the three brothers looked as spirits compared to the aged Michelangelo.
Establishing this sets up the fight with Hiroto to have a different vibe to it for Michelangelo’s side of the conflict. He wasn’t jumping in as a tank hoping his training and powers could get him to the big bad. This time around he was going in thinking about everything he was doing so he could take on the Foot Clan on his level. Even when Michelangelo came up against the two elite mech Foot Clan members we see how he was using his master-level fighting skills to overcome a clear disadvantage. He was no longer a tank fighting, this was about a master going to work to take down the big bad.
This mentality was furthered through Michelangelo’s inner monologue during the fight with Hiroto. Throughout this fight we see how brutal it was with Michelangelo and Hiroto not holding back whatsoever. Credit to Eastman and the Escorzas for really delivering on the intensity here. The fight felt epic because of how the entire thing was choreographed. Which was enhanced by Michelangelo’s inner monologue that framed this fight with him doing his best to just keep up. As the fight dragged on Michelangelo’s age and injuries were clearly catching up to him. The transition to Michelangelo looking for openings was all shown through the choreography.
The pacing of the fight further enhanced the different stages in the action. Throughout Michelangelo’s fight with Hiroto we cut away to what Casey and April were doing. This helped with the transition of settings as we see that there is this flooding problem created by previous issues also hanging over the city. It allowed April and Casey to play a role in the fight without getting physically involved. This all led well into the final moments of the conflict with Michelangelo being the last one standing after Hiroto launched one last desperate attack.
April and Casey finding a dying Michelangelo was a great note to end the main story in. They both were key in helping Michelangelo rediscover his own humanity and having a reason to fight beyond his feelings of revenge. The bond with Casey in particular was clearly something that meant a lot to Michelangelo as he revealed that the notebook we’ve seen him write in was a journal to leave for Casey to learn even without him around. This showed that while he did end up fighting for something greater than revenge Michelangelo knew he didn’t have long to live. But having spent time with Casey he realized his family legacy could live on through the family he still has in April and Casey.
Which led in well to the final moments of the main story with Michelangelo waking up in his teenage form back with his brothers in the afterlife. Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael happily greeting their brother and reminding him about their latest rooftop race was a great way to end things, wonderfully brought to life by Ben Bishop’s artwork. The rooftop race is something we’ve seen so often in TMNT material that it felt like the right thing to finish things off with. The race ending with the Turtles reuniting with Splinter and Casey Jones made the entire ending feel like a complete conclusion to Michelangelo’s journey as The Last Ronin.
The epilogue that serves as the ending for The Last Ronin #5 was unexpected. It was certainly cool to see a slightly older Casey continuing her training based on all the teachings Michelangelo left behind. It showed that while the Turtles aren’t around the Himoto Clan will continue to go on through Casey. Though it was odd that this led into a “To Be Continued” with the reveal that April and Casey are raising new mutant turtles. Its an ending that I’m not sure how to feel about as I would have preferred The Last Ronin to end on a more definitive note rather than a tease for possible future stories.
It was a long journey to this finale but when the dust cleared The Last Ronin #5 delivered on all the promise this series had when first announced. Was the ultimate bad guy a one-note villain? Yes but that did not matter in the end. The Last Ronin was a personal journey for Michelangelo as the last surviving member of the TMNT. What that means for Michelangelo and the world around him was wonderfully explored with an ending that will leave all TMNT fans satisfied. This is a must have for all fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise so make sure to pick up the trade collection of The Last Ronin.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10