Next year may mark the 40th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, and you can bet that IDW will be celebrating in style. Case in point, during SDCC last weekend the publisher announced details about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin II – Re-Evolution. This sequel series will follow the next generation of TMNT, who were introduced in the final page of The Last Ronin #5.

Re-EvolutionThe Beat had the pleasure of chatting with Re-Evolution co-writer Tom Waltz and artist Ben Bishop to discuss not only the genesis of the sequel series, but also the surprises yet to come in the current The Last Ronin – Lost Years miniseries.

Taimur Dar: It seems fitting to begin by asking how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin II – ReEvolution came to be?

Tom Waltz: The funny thing was when Kevin [Eastman] first started talking about Last Ronin, and that series was rolling along, we thought it would be fun to do a sequel. We had ideas that came out of the original. The main thing was when we started the first volume of The Last Ronin, we did think that would be the last Mirage story. Literally a week or two into plotting we realized it was its own thing and things were changing that went against the original canon. As that happened, he and I started talking [how] this would make for new origins and new stories down the line. We even joked with some subtitles and “Re-Evolution” was one of them. We weren’t sure because getting out the first volume of Last Ronin was not the easiest thing. And COVID was happening. There were so many things going on we just thought it was something on our wish list. But The Last Ronin has been so successful that there was absolutely no reason not to do more.

At the end of Ronin Kevin said, “I want to do this little epilogue with four little turtles in a terrarium.” There were a lot of people asking what does this mean? Here we are two years later, especially through the work that Ben has done on Lost Years, we’ve set the groundwork with the four new turtles like the names and personalities. This is our opportunity to take that story one step further without ever forgetting the original four and the core of this story.  

Dar: That’s a great segway into my next question. As much as I love the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think most people would agree in those early Mirage issues it was nearly impossible to tell them apart. I love that not only do these new turtles have different personalities but are also different species. Ben, what did the design process entail?  

Ben Bishop: I ended up getting the word that I’d be designing these brand-new turtles the same day I found out I was having a daughter. So, it was a real personal moment. The main directive was just to make them look different and make their silhouettes instantly recognizable. Make their body shapes and genders different and have them be their own unique thing. Coming from a design point that just opened everything. I ended up doing twelve different designs, both teenage versions and baby versions so we could see where they would start and where they would end. Those designs made the rounds to Nickelodeon and Kevin and Tom and IDW. Everyone picked their four. I’m very grateful for the four we ended up with.

Waltz: There are going to be a lot of surprises. Everything we’ve shown and will show is just very ground level for what these new turtles will be all about. When Ben does these designs, that directly affects the storytelling. I see things and my storytelling goes into a certain direction it might not have initially in my mind. It’s very collaborative from beginning to end. We’re always working together just feeding off each other.

Bishop: I might only have four pages for each Lost Years issue because they’re separated by three years to show these little snapshots of how they grow and how the lair changes. Even then, I’ll be adding stuff to the script like background stuff. The lair being completely overgrown was part of my design because I wanted to show the passing of time in those issues simply by the growth. Not only that but new life and hope. Last Ronin was very much about death and Lost Years is about rebirth and the future.

Waltz: Your lair is probably one of my favorite things.

Bishop: This is my Ben Bishop head canon but if Mikey is buried under that rock, he’s in all of it.

Waltz: He’s the Swamp Thing!

Bishop: Luis [Antonio Delgado] is coloring it in that way too. I told him, “You know how in TMNT II, there’s that giant dandelion? We’re doing that with the lair. We don’t have to tell Tom or Kevin.” In my head canon, Mikey is buried there and then I’m going to write a miniseries where they’re stealing his body. [Laughs].


Dar: I’d be remiss if we didn’t get a chance to discuss Last Ronin – Lost Years. The big antagonist is a mysterious foe named Death Worm. We’ve yet to see him physically appear but I’m curious if you could discuss the development of Death Worm and anything else you can tease?

Waltz: That is an interesting story. Death Worm came about because we needed an antagonist and big bad and we knew it needed to be something new. That’s something Kevin wanted from the start. We knew there was going to be this journey. Somewhere along the line as were talking, Kevin goes, “What about this Genghis Khan guy from outer Mongolia? We’re probably going to pass through this area of Asia.” And I thought it was really interesting. I started looking up things about Mongolia. The first thing that popped up was that there is literally a worm called the Death Worm. That is an actual worm that is some kind of parasite. I thought it was fascinating. I’m late to the game but I’m head over heels over Dune, both the novel and the movie. Worms were in my brain as it was. I thought it was a cool and creepy name.

I ran it by everybody. We looked up both the proper Mongolian pronunciation and the English translation which is Death Worm. That’s where the idea for the character came from. What I will say is it’s not going to be what anybody expects. It will hopefully be a surprise when they get to the fifth issue. You will see Death Worm in the flesh in the fifth issue. The circumstances will surprise people. Also worth mentioning, in that fifth issue we will explain why the young turtles are named the way they are. It’s going to be a really big issue.

Miss any of The Beat’s earlier SDCC ’22 Coverage? Find it all here!