Review: Last Born #1

Another week means another round of first issues, and this week’s premiere of Last Born serves as a reminder that most comic books take time to build to their story. I can’t remember why Last Born caught my eye as I was flipping through the week’s offers, but it probably was because I hadn’t read anything before published by Black Mask Studios, a studio whose Wikipedia page states they were formed to publish transgressive art and support creator-owned work. Cool, right? So far though, Last Born has yet to transgress anything despite showing signs of coming strangeness in its second half. The premiere devotes the bulk of its pages to Julie, and her dull life in 60’s America. Julie has a by-the-book life other than having a dad who grows increasingly detached from reality ever since his encounter with the cave that opens this issue. After she gets a notice that she won’t be receiving financial assistance to attend college, Julie resigns herself to her aunt’s wish that she marry her high school sweetheart, a perfectly nice but boring dude. Once he makes his proposal though, Julie makes a break to the swamp, and finds herself in a grey urban ruin where things kick into gear.

Last-Born-#1-10.2.14Once they do though, it’s hard to tell what’s actually happening. Julie encounters a malevolent shape shifter that does some funky stuff to her brain, and then she’s saved by a pair of wandering warriors who’s intention we’re not given any insight to. By the last few pages, we’re introduced to another pair of characters elsewhere who state that they world they now reside in is about to come to an end, and we’re left on a cliffhanger that doesn’t tease some much as evokes a ‘huh?’

I’m okay with remaining in a bit of mystery for now with what’s going on, and it’s even more bearable because of how intriguing of a character Julie is. Once over the initial shock of being seemingly transported to another world, she accepts her lot and determines to make the best of it, telling the strangers she meets that she can take care of herself despite saying a few pages earlier that all she wants is for someone to save her. Already she’s proving herself a character with a level of complexity that most writers can’t achieve in six issues, and Patrick Meany deserves kudos for pulling it off.

While mostly unremarkable due to the suburban setting of the first half, I think artist Eric Zawadazki can potentially pull off some interesting things in the book’s dystopic setting as evidenced by the visuals during the attack on Julie. However, Zawadazki could use some work on painting liquids, the blood in several panels looking more like thick goop, but I guess human blood could be different in the future.

Last Born has a captivating lead, and a potentially intriguing premise at its center. The next issue will determine whether I’ll become a regular reader.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Patrick Meany Artist: Eric Zawadazki Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/1/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print