Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin – Director’s Cut (#1) – Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman

5 out of 5

I get after IDW quite often for their wallet-bustin’ approach to TMNT fandom, going after multiple reprints and alternate editions and slightly different offerings in trade paperbacks, not to mention their many, many questionable mini-series running concurrently to the main run.

While I ultimately understand that if things make money, they’ll continue to maintain such practices, The Last Ronin is moreso the kind of projects I’d prefer from them: tales more of the classic TMNT vein, which allow us to step outside of the soap opera of the primary books. Setting aside the origins of this book actually being classic TMNT, I’d be down with a new “Tales of…” series that could likely maintain this vibe.

Even with that approval, though, I still rolled my eyes at another director’s cut book. I’ve bought a couple of these before and questioned the need, and I almost passed this by due to that… except, given the book’s notability (as having been plotted by Eastman and Laird years back), I wondered if there might be more to it than usual. And there is.

Not only do you get the entire 1st issue reprinted, you also get full layouts, with margin notes, from Eastman, for about half the book. While that may seem like you’re getting shorted, these are the real deal: not just thumbnails and directional notes, but way more detailed than that, and with a lot of scripting and scenario thoughts margined in; this was clearly a big deal for Kevin, and his energy shows through. And comparing these thumbs to pencillers / inkers Esau and Isaac Escorza is a lot of fun, and exposes that I was wrong: I’d blamed some choreography woes on Kev in the original review, but his pages flow really well, even in this basic format; rather, the Escorzas get just a skosh more “wild,” and it’s enough to cause hiccups here and there.

Aside from this, we get several pages of character / future NY designs, again with a lot of thoughts scribbled in from Eastman, as well as two pages from the original typed up pitch that he and Pete worked on, which includes the notes Kev’d make, decades later, in trying to modernize the tale. Finally, some short fore- and afterwords from Waltz and Eastman, really solidifying how cool this project was, resurrecting something years after the fact.

The original prestige is $8.99; I think it’s more than fair that the DC is $10.99 – I rather think that’s quite a deal, which is contrary to how much finger-wagglin’ I do at IDW.

I guess the only downside is that if you bought the original issue #1, you really don’t need it anymore. (Although I’m keeping it for the list of alternate covers it had in the back…)