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Old 05-30-2020, 08:51 PM   #1
neatoman
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The influence of Ronin on TMNT

So I finally got around to reading Ronin, the Frank Miller comic, which I am told is one of the inspirations for TMNT.

In case you don't know the plot of Ronin, here's the rundown:
It's a dyspotian future New York, high-tech research is around but everyday people are miserable. Billy Challas is a mentally retarded man without limbs. Despite these limitations, he has great psychic powers and is therefore an ideal test subject for experimental cybernetics technology using something akin to nanobots. The experiments are being monitored by a computer AI he can confide in. He tells this computer he's been having vivid dreams of a Ronin fighting a demon named Agat to avenge his master. In these dreams the Ronin and Agat are trapped in a sword, which is now in possession of the lab. These dreams worry Billy's employers because they're accurate to ancient Japan but the man was never educated on the subject. The Agat breaks free from the sword and the Ronin incarnates in Billy, even builds perfect new arms for his body. The Ronin does not understand english and kills security guards tracking him down. He vows to kill Agat once and for all, which will be tricky given that he's shapeshifted himself into the head of the labratories.
Spoiler:
It's eventually revealed that the Ronin, Agat and their whole backstory are fabrications. The reality is that the AI running the experiments on Billy intends for the cybernetic nanobots to replace humanity. The reason for making up the Ronin and Agat was to trap Billy in an elaborate fantasy that would prevent him from using his powers, which could put an to the AI's plans. When the head of security finds out about this, she kills Agat (confirming that he's just a robot) and points out she has therefore robbed the Ronin of his purpose, meaning he now has to commit Seppuku. He does and this unleashes a psychic blast from Billy, which seemingly destroys all of New York. Yet despite the desctruction and the confirmation that he was a mere fantasy, the Ronin is still standing.


So, what does this have to do with TMNT? In terms of plot, very little as you can guess, altough the idea of a test subject as the reincarnation of an ancient warrior does have some similarities to the IDW origin. What it has in common with TMNT is mostly cosmetic. Kevin Eastman as an artist is, for better or worse, clearly inspired by Frank Miller. Lots of grit, intentionally ugly things, shadows, ambigious machinery around, similar paneling, etc. Also the "Who are you? Ninja?" line followed by"Turtle!" in the first issue of TMNT makes a little more sense to me now, it's a reference to a line where the Ronin refutes being a samurai. Also the cover for the first issue is clearly an homage to Ronin's first cover. Ultimately not that much in common, Daredevil clearly left more of a mark on TMNT than Ronin, but Ronin's influence can hardly be denied. Really, between Ronin and The Dark Knight Returns, I'm less interested in how Frank Miller influenced other creators than I am in his fascination for topless nazi women.

Maybe the Last Ronin will be the big Ronin homage? After all, the premise is more similar than any other TMNT story so far. Maybe we'll see if it includes nanobots?
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Old 05-30-2020, 09:22 PM   #2
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Don't kinkshame Miller, yo.
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Old 05-31-2020, 01:48 AM   #3
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I also read Ronin a short time ago and was surprised by the graphic similarities with old school Mirage books: mostly paneling but also some buildings and street views. There is splash page depicting a city neighborhood seen from above which could almost be a Kevin Eastman illustration.
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Old 05-31-2020, 02:08 AM   #4
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Love that book. Miller at his best. It's criminal that's not a movie yet.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:57 AM   #5
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I have no doubt that Eastman and Laird were aware of or inspired by Ronin, but I think beyond the cover art, art style and general Eastern/Japanese themes Ronin probably hasn't much to do with TMNT as far as influence.

I think TMNT are more related to Marvel books: New Mutants and Frank Miller's Daredevil. Maybe some 70's Jack Kirby concepts too.

As far as a Mount Rushmore of inspirations (if you could only pick 4) for TMNT, would Ronin be on there?
Maybe? Perhaps. But as a direct inspiration?
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Old 06-03-2020, 11:59 PM   #6
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I'm sure Ronin was way more of a influence for Kevin than for Peter.
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Old 06-04-2020, 01:36 AM   #7
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Ronin kicks ass. I probably didn?t know how to fully appreciate it at the time I originally read it, but I?ve been considering picking up the Absolute Edition. I?m still a fan of Frank?s pencils, but it?s insane what happened to them over time, when looking back on Ronin.
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Old 06-04-2020, 01:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaParade View Post
Ronin kicks ass. I probably didn?t know how to fully appreciate it at the time I originally read it, but I?ve been considering picking up the Absolute Edition. I?m still a fan of Frank?s pencils, but it?s insane what happened to them over time, when looking back on Ronin.
It's just such an amazing story. Again, it's truly baffling that has never been realized as a film or a mini-series, or anything else beyond it, really.
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Old 06-04-2020, 06:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
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It's just such an amazing story. Again, it's truly baffling that has never been realized as a film or a mini-series, or anything else beyond it, really.
No argument there. It truly is an amazing work with many elements that maybe wouldn't (or shouldn't) otherwise fit together. No doubt, it's the greatest non-superhero thing Miller ever did.

As far as baffling that it has never been realized as a film or a mini-series, there are so many properties in this age of comic book/superhero films with unrealized potential. A Ronin movie seems like something tailor-made for Hollywood adaptation. It's crazy that it's not been attempted.
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Old 06-04-2020, 06:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaParade View Post
Ronin kicks ass. I probably didn?t know how to fully appreciate it at the time I originally read it, but I?ve been considering picking up the Absolute Edition. I?m still a fan of Frank?s pencils, but it?s insane what happened to them over time, when looking back on Ronin.
Not to add to the derision of Miller, but I guess I will. The man was a comic book genius. His layouts and pencil work/storytelling ability in the medium, were insane. His Daredevil, Ronin, DKR etc. were incredible. But, as time has gone on, the man's craft, politics, and personal life have suffered a breakdown.
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Old 06-12-2020, 03:34 PM   #11
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