Filed under: Image Comics | Tags: Brent Peeples, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Matthew Waite, Mirka Andolfo, The Last of the Greats
Free time for a Comics Anon blogger these days is few and far between, meaning there’s little time to read much more than comics we plan to read, let alone anything else we might have picked up on recommendation. For me, there are a few examples of books that I’ve just not had the time to get to, so instead the issues pile up in the background, waiting for a rainy day or an unusual week where I manage to get through everything early. Our recent trip to London Super Comic Con meant spending two six-hour long trips on the train across the weekend – perfect for catching up on those long overdue reads. In the first of a series of features I’m calling “Catch Ups”, I’ll be reviewing these long overdue comics – starting with the excellent miniseries from Image – Last of the Greats.
The book has a tough job to compete in an already crowded market place where new comics about new superheroes or superheroes in the real world are ten a penny. In recent years, comics have grown up, but with so many “Kick-Ass” and “Superior” rip offs these days flooding the market, a comic set in the real world has to have a lot more going for it to stand out, and luckily this book does. It goes much further than simply using real-world superheroes as a gimmick, instead leaving origins a mystery until a couple of issues in.
Instead the book starts out with the earth in a crisis (and not one of an Infinite or Final kind!) surrounded by alien ships. Humanity has little in the way of defence to stand up to them, so must turn to the last standing from a group of super-powered gods that came to earth – the Last of the Greats. Problem is, earth didn’t really treat these beings with much respect, leaving one of them, ‘The Last’ as he prefers to be known, pissed off by the whole thing and unwilling to do anything about it.
It’s an interesting take, something similar to what we’ve seen before with the likes of Superman or X-Men – the human race doesn’t always take kindly to homo-superior, so instead of accepting them for what they are, we treat them like crap. Supes and Cyclops have big enough hearts to forgive us most of the time, knowing we’ll come to our sense when things go bad – but to have a character like ‘The Last’, who’s been made so bitter and twisted by the whole ordeal is pretty original. He’s a character who straddles the line between good and bad so well – with powers to do good, but not forgetting what the human race did to him. Which side will he truly pick?
There’s plenty of twists and turn along the way of this story, and by the time issue #5 is done, you’re left wanting more. This review is timely – the trade paperback comes out this week and, for under a tenner, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t pick it up. Without giving away anything that happens at the end, there is room for more from this series and I’d love to see it. By the end of the issue #5 writer Joshua Hale Fialkov pleads to the reader to “Tell people about this book..we’re relying on sales of the graphic novel to fund us to continue our adventure”. We all know that this industry relies so strongly on people actually buying the books, but so often good writing can get missed and we’re only left with the characters that everybody knows. A miniseries like this is one that can be enjoyed by anyone (well maybe except the lil’ones), hardcore fans and newcomers alike.
The art team does a great job here too, matching the popular style of any mainstream superhero like Superman, giving the impression that you’re reading your usual superhero adventure – just much darker and grown-up. It’s definitely a recommended read for those who like both the mainstream superhero comics but also enjoy the more independent or creator owned stories too.
Image are really a head above all the other publishers at the moment with the books they offer each month, and this one just strengthens that argument. Although I’d love to see more of this story, it’s nice that Image seems to focus more on the ‘quality miniseries’ than any of the other publishers. Good things always come in small packages, and as we’ve seen with so many popular characters over the years, churning out a book every month will certainly dilute what makes it such a good book in the first place.
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