It's a Shell of a Time (Insert Electric Guitar Music) in TMNT: The Last Ronin #3 ADVANCE REVIEW

Story: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, & Tom Waltz, Script: Tom Waltz & Kevin Eastman, Layouts: Kevin Eastman, Pencils/Inks: Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, and Kevin Eastman, Color Assistance: Samuel Plata, Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado, Letters: Shawn Lee, Edits: Bobby Curnow.

Cover by Esau and Isaac Escorza; Colors by Luis Antonio Delgado

TMNT: The Last Ronin #3 hits the heartstrings this week by exploring the past and its effects on the Ronin’s present. The mere announcement of this limited series had me quivering in my half-shell with excitement. A dystopian NYC plus a post-pubescent turtle promised a rollercoaster of action, emotion, and nostalgia. This proves to be an accurate description of the series thus far and culminates this week in a Master Class of character depth and less-than-kowabunga feelings.

NYC is broken and so is our Ronin. Like Batman and Gotham, the two are intertwined in their identities. The Ronin is broken by his enemy and haunted by legacy and family. Waltz and Eastman give us dialogue that bears weight, a weight we can visually see in the facial lines drawn by Esau and Isaac Escorza. Frank Miller comes to mind in terms of the art style, though I would venture to call this grittier. Miller’s lines are often ill-defined (often with good thematic reason). Here we see every line, every expression, and every emotion. Pain weighs heaviest in this issue as art and prose coalesce into painful memories for our beloved characters. I felt I was there with them, experiencing their sorrow.

Interior art by Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, and Kevin Eastman

The writing provides each character with their familiar personalities wrapped in grit and grime, extrapolated through the worst possible circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a possible destination for these characters and how they handled the obstacles thrown in their way.

Having come full circle, we end the issue with a certainty that wasn’t present in previous issues. The goal is made clear because the costs have been made clear. While the writing and artwork in this issue revolve heavily on loss and sadness, they also reveal hope. There’s a pinprick of light and we get to see these characters driven through the muck, only to see them stand again anyway when things are darkest.

Interior art by Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, and Kevin Eastman

TMNT: The Last Ronin #3 from IDW Publishing delivers another excellent installment while also serving as an homage to the classic TMNT stories. We get character call backs and references that serve the plot while reminding us why we love these characters and why they will always keep fighting. I recommend checking this book out when it hits shelves on 5/26/21. Get it from your Local Comic Book Shop or Comixology.

If you’re new to the comic book aspect of TMNT and your knowledge only goes so far as the 1990s films (Sam Rockwell was the bomb in the first film) then check out the Ultimate Collection of Laird and Eastman’s TMNT on Amazon or (optimistically) your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP!

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