Nearly two years ago, IDW released the first issue of an ambitious story set in the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Last Ronin #1 embraced the comic book tradition of aging up heroes to fight in a new and unfamiliar world, pitting an older Michelangelo in a battle against the Shredder’s grandson, who killed his mutant brothers and father. On April 27, the fifth and final issue (opens in new tab) of the limited series went on sale, bringing the story to an explosive conclusion.
(opens in new tab)
The story begins with Michelangelo arguing with the ghostly visions of his dead brothers, images that have been with him since the beginning of the series. A tense argument breaks out between the turtle brothers as to whether or not Mikey will be enough to defeat the forces of Shredder’s grandson, Oroku Hiroto. Mikey banishes his brother’s voices, focusing instead on the wisdom laid out for him in his father Splinter’s journal. On the last page, two words describe Mikey’s situation ever since he lost his family.
“No peace,” they say.
Of course, Mikey hasn’t exactly been alone in his struggle against the Foot Clan’s newest leader. Old friend April O’Neil and her daughter Casey (named after her late father) were there to assist Mikey in challenging Hiroto and attempting to free New York City from his technological iron rule.
We won’t go into the play-by-play of the entire issue, other than to say as expected, the story eventually leads to Mikey and Shredder’s grandson squaring off, ready to finally end the feud between the turtle’s Hamato clan and the Foot’s Oroku clan.
As much as his evolved mutant abilities assist him, Mikey is just barely able to keep up with this new and deadlier iteration of Shredder. Still, Mikey is able to use gravity to his advantage, knocking the villain from the heights of a skyscraper, down past the city streets, and into the sewer he once called home. Just as it appears as though Mikey’s won the fight, Casey and April flood the sewer, spewing the Last Ronin and the New Shredder into a muddy dump outside New York.
Broken, tired, and nearing death, the two warriors charge at one another one last time. In a scene reminiscent of The Dark Knight Returns’s infamous mud pit battle, they beat each other mercilessly until, desperate not to lose, Hiroto activates a failsafe on his high-tech armor suit, releasing a deadly amount of electricity that fries both himself and his mortal adversary.
Casey and April reach the scene just as the only Mutant Ninja Turtle is making his last crawl from water to land. As he takes his last breaths, Casey shows him Splinter’s journal. Mikey’s last act is to show Casey that he’s edited his father’s journal, changing the very last words on the very last page.
“Know peace,” they say. And the Michelangelo dies.
A pair of epilogues end the series. In the first, Mikey wakes up as a teenager again, on a spiritual plane that takes the form of New York City at sunrise. He meets up with his fallen brothers, the original Casey Jones, and Master Splinter, who comments that even this New York has a particular odor.
“Yeah it does,” says Mikey. “Smells like home.”
In the second epilogue, we catch up with April and Casey, who are still working to keep New York safe from whatever threatens it. April works on some salvaged tech while Casey continues her self-training as a ninja. She takes a break only for a moment to greet her mother and to check in on an experiment she’s conducting. An experiment that involves four baby turtles.
“To be continued…” reads the final panel.
What’s next for April and Casey? TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman and Last Ronin writer Tom Waltz gave Newsarama some hints all the way back in December of 2020.