Raphael’s propensity to act alone and his hot temper are two main reasons he never managed to outlive his brothers to become the last ronin.
Warning! Spoilers for The last ronin and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 121 vouch!
In a dark vision of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘Future where only one of the four brothers survives, a look at their actions in the present reveals why Raffael can’t have been that Last ronin. In IDWs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last ronin Series by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz, Esau and Isaac Escorza shows how each tortoise’s mistakes led to its demise. This story fits seamlessly into the TMNT lore, as the revelation of which turtle survives is supported by many past and current actions by the brothers.
After the series was first announced, there was widespread speculation about which turtle would be the one who would try to avenge the deaths of his three brothers at the hands of Shredder’s grandsons. The mystery was fueled by the lack of the distinctive color-coded masks used to distinguish them and the fact that the remaining ninjas wore all of the tortoise’s signature weapons. There were many theories as to why each turtle was destined to be the lonely remaining hero in a half-shell before it was revealed that Michelangelo carried that burden.
Even after the identity of the last ronin is revealed, speculation continues as to why certain turtles could never have played this role. Raphael’s hasty decision-making, proven several times in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 121, perfectly illustrates why he was ill-equipped to be the last turtle to stand. In this issue of Sophie Campbell and Jodi Nishijima, Raphael pursues Old Hob to stab him while Michelangelo displays the kind of prudence that is essential for survival. This stylistic contrast underlines Raph’s impulsiveness, susceptibility to anger and the desire to get everything under control instead of tackling problems as a team. With these flaws, the turtle creators knew that Raphael was destined to set things in motion for the story of Last Ronin one way or another.
TMNT: The Last Ronin # 2 shows that this type of decision-making actually led to his death. When Splinter is mortally wounded, Raphael sneaks away to fight alone with a small army of foot clan soldiers and Karai (Shredder’s adopted daughter). He is angry and overwhelmed. Although he manages to put down a large number of soldiers of the foot clan, his quest for revenge ends when he and Karai kill each other. Given the damage he could do on his own, it is a safe conclusion that the results would have been very different if he had fought alongside his brothers instead of trying to get his revenge alone. Although Raphael is the strongest turtle, the skills of his brothers cannot be overlooked and always prove to be invaluable.
However, even the team approach is no guarantee of success, as Raphael’s hot head is a burden in any environment. For example, in situations where Raphael agrees to accept a serious threat as part of the team, his brothers’ succumbing would only make him less disciplined and rational, meaning he would die right away with them.
In the stream Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Books there are plenty of clues as to why the other turtles, especially Raphael, don’t have the manners to weather the bleak future that is in. is described The last ronin and why Michelangelo was the right choice thematically. To the Raffael, his struggle for self-control and the desire to deal with everything but his brothers means that he is far too self-destructive to be the Last ronin.
Next: TMNT: The Last Ronin’s Deadliest Missions Notes to the Death of Two Turtles
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