The Last Ronin by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz, and a SLEW of Artists

We were all always so different. So much alike.

I miss my brothers. So much.


…I miss my father.

More than anything else, I wanted to make him proud.

In the end…too little, too late. Story of my life.”

The Last Ronin

I really can’t say too much about this book without giving away the spoiler of its premise. All but one of the Ninja Turtles have fallen, and its up to the last surviving one (no spoilers here) to enact the final battle between The Hamato Clan and The Oroku Clan.

The art is a high point for me, gritty, grimy, angular and broken, just like the world around it. This is the future, after all, things aren’t supposed to be sunny and bright. Esau and Isaac Escorza are on lead with a few backups for the flashback sequences, and they’re future is dirty, which, surprisingly, is how I like my Ninja Turtles comics. Call it a preference to the initial comic books from the 80s, but it’s what I like.

A wonderfully fun book with a deep, soulful heart at the core.

Amazing Spider-Man: Happy Birthday by J. Michael Stracynski and John Romita Jr.

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t I look at all the things I’ve done, everything that’s happened, and–

–it’s just nonstop fighting, violence, madness–and I’ve let people die…people I cared about…people I loved–“

“We cannot save everyone.”

“Then what’s the point?”

“Do you know what the greatest give anyone can receive in this lifetime?”

“No. And I don’t care. What does this have to do with–“

“The greatest gift we can receive is to have the chance, just once in our lives, to make a difference. Do you understand how many gifts you have received? How many times you have made a difference? Enough for a hundred lifetimes.”

J. Michael Stracynski

I come back to Stracynski’s slightly controversial run on Spider-Man from the beginning of the 2000s all the way to 2007 every year or so. I discovered it as a pivotal time in my life, in my early 20s, about to graduate college to become a classroom teacher, and in need of some real world guidance. If Bendis and Co.’s Ultimate Spider-Man was giving me comics I could enjoy, then Stracynski and Romita’s Amazing Spider-Man was giving me comics I could learn from.

We’re a few days out from Peter Parker’s birthday. He’s just reunited with Mary Jane and settling in to his job as a part time high school science teacher. Just when it looks like life is about to hand him a normal birthday for once, the sky turns red and an army of mindless laser-eye rock monster drones fall out of the sky.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

What follows is not a madcap series of hi-jinks, but a deep, personal dive through the lifespan of a spider, as Spider-Man and Dr. Strange are forced to team up, travel the history of Peter Parker to make it back to the present, and do everything they can to save the world from being annihilated. And maybe, just maybe, if he survives all of it, Peter will get the gift he never knew he always needed.


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