Recently, IDW began a new limited Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series titled “The Last Ronin.” The story is written and illustrated by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the same duo who created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in the 80s, and follows the last surviving Turtle who seeks justice for the family he lost in a future, battle-ravaged New York City. It’s certainly one of the darkest stories seen in just about any version of TMNT and is filled with action, emotion, and intriguing storytelling. There is one detail, though, that could have possibly improved the story. It’s revealed that the Last Ronin is Michaelangelo, but perhaps it should have been Leonardo.
I’m not saying that Michaelangelo is a bad choice by any means. In fact, it does lead to a rather entertaining story. The more immature brother who likes to goof off being forced to step up and become a darker character is as interesting and emotional as they could ever want it to be. However, it does make one wonder if Mikey was chosen to be the Last Ronin not because he’s a perfect fit for the story, but because he’s often considered to be the fan favorite (usually because of his comic relief).
Leading up to the release of The Last Ronin, IDW treated the Ronin’s identity to be a big mystery. They wanted fans to guess which of the Turtles it would be and which ones would perish. Michelangelo being the fan favorite caused most comic readers to correctly guess the survivor’s identity. This led to there not being much of a surprise when his identity was revealed.
Truthfully, choosing any of the turtles to be that last survivor of their family would have led to an interesting story. Michelangelo is a goofy character who becomes darker and more serious. Donatello would have been the biggest surprise, as he’s not as much of a fighter as his brothers. Seeing him throw his tech aside to become a ruthless combatant to avenge his brothers and father would prove to be a thrilling read. Raphael living on without his family to balance him out would likely lead to him being a bit of a psychopath. He’d probably become a vigilante who slaughters thugs in the streets, unable to control his anger. TMNT meets The Punisher does have a fun ring to it.
With all that being said, Leonardo being the last surviving member of his family would be a true comic spectacle. Leonardo feels responsible for his brothers. Taking care of their aging father likely feels like his responsibility as well in his mind. He’s always wanted to prove to Master Splinter that he can be the best leader possible. He takes every loss personally. Because he feels solely responsible for every move his family and team make, him losing each of them would absolutely break him.
We can probably easily predict how the other Turtles would act if they were the last survivor in their family, but there’s no telling what lengths Leonardo would go to if he was unable to help his brothers and father while they were being killed. He’s willing to sacrifice himself for everyone else, so he would absolutely blame himself for their demise. Would he go into hiding for the rest of his life? Would he hunt down every last member of the Foot Clan? Would he never stop making life hell for New York City thugs and dangerous mutants? There’s honestly no way to know, which would allow for an incredibly suspenseful read.
Knowing how much he’d blame himself and how much feeling responsible would break him while not being able to predict his next actions would lead to a heart-stopping story. Gasps would have been unavoidable at every page turn. The story we have about Michaelangelo no longer being a cheerful joker and becoming colder is definitely intense and entertaining, but Leonardo being the Last Ronin could have potentially been even more so.