I know someone’s going to look at this book and see the number “2” on the cover and instantly pass on it because they’re unfamiliar with the series and won’t be willing to start on the second of anything. The thing is… I started with the series on this volume. I wasn’t lost as far as what was happening in the story and actually found it more interesting as I had to learn about the series that others were likely to be familiar with. Granted, I want to go back and read the first book afterwards, but that’s only because I enjoyed this one as much as I did. The other reason I wanted to check this book out and didn’t care that it was the second volume… Vasilis Lolos’ artwork. It is so fucking killer on this story. Now, having read the book I will tell you that the second volume takes place kind of sorta after the events of the first as Alec is thrown off of the ghost train for not having a ticket. He lands in a strange world in the middle of a dump and as he wakes up, confused he sees another teenager pissing on his foot. He stares at the piss on his foot completely grossed out and in an instant he punches the kid in the dick. He begins asking questions that all basically involve the word “fuck” in them at some point. The kid that got punched in the dick asks his friends to jump Alec, but he takes off running. One of them catches up with him and he attempts to jump over him, but gets his leg grabbed. The kid calls for his friends and Alec hits him in the face with some trash, just as he’s about to pounce on him the kid tells him to stop and be quite. A device hanging off of his neck begins beeping and the kid screams out, “Busters” and runs. Not knowing what else to do, Alec runs as well. A trio of helmet wearing men in black leather rides up on their motorcycles and one of them hits the garbage kid with a baton. Alec is about to run away, but he turns back for the kid and kicks the helmet in of the motorcycle riders.
At this point we cut back to the train with an aged Alec explaining his story to Sam, the friend he was separated from and a shadowy figure that’s strangely close to Sam. Alec cuts back to his story and explains that he was then brought to a community service program that trained the kids to become police officers. While receiving the orientation he meets Director James Jones the Third. JJ gives his welcome to the new “troops” and then he asks to see Alec because of his New York t-shirt. In JJ’s office Alec begins pouring out his guts to him explaining everything about the train and how he needs to get back to his friend Sam. After talking some more and retelling his story, JJ opens the top of his shirt and reveals a tattoo of NY surrounded by other bad ass tattoos and explains that they are both aliens in a strange world. He assures Alec that he’ll get him back on the train as soon as they figure out the how’s and what’s behind it, but that in the meantime he’s going to train to be a police officer. Alec continues to briefly explain his life and how he made it back on the train. But now, he must solve a murder mystery still pending from his first trip on the train, but at least he’s reunited with Sam and his new shadow. There’s a lot more to read, but this is a good point for you to pick up the book.
This story is absolutely nuts and none of it should make any sense, but it all does. The world is strange and reminds me of something between a mix of Heavy Metal and Spirited Away. It has a strong influence of Japanese animation in general, but I absolutely loved the world that it was set in. It would be lovely to explore different stories and aspects of the world with the existing characters or new ones, either way it’s good. Lolos’ imagination is deep with ideas and even if some of them draw inspiration from other works, it’s his presentation that makes it wonderful and unique.
What I found particularly amazing about the story was that as weird and strange as everything is, you’re not lost in the details. Rather they float to the top when you need them through conversation and they’re pretty obvious if you’re paying attention. I had no problem picking up the details of events from the first issue and found it rather enjoyable since there was already a murder mystery to figure out, what was one more. The writing is very good and I couldn’t help but enjoy every single character introduced in the story. A lot of them are over the top, but all of them are unique and interesting.
My eyes had a visual orgasm from looking at this book. I don’t know if Lolos’ style is for everyone and I don’t care, but really it’s for everyone. This book is the embodiment of what I think of when I think independent comic books. If one in five comics looked like this I would buy them all because I absolutely loved it. The dynamic effects with the font, the over the top presentation with the characters; everything was perfect for the story. Aside from the other visual cues I mentioned a lot of the facial expressions reminded me of Gross Grandpa or if you’re unfamiliar with that: Ren & Stimpy. Now, by saying that your brain thinks of one particular way and I’ll say that it’s wrong; when I make that comparison it’s more in the vein of the comedic to serious variations in the facial expressions and other slight details. Lolo’s style is fucking amazing and I couldn’t get enough of it.
I can see why the delay for this book probably rubbed some fans the wrong way. After all, I read it and was more than blown away by it and it was my first experience with the franchise. The printers had a bit of a fire which delayed the book so before you take it out on the publisher… don’t. This book is more than worth the wait of a few extra weeks and trust me you’re going to love it. It was amazingly good and I cannot wait to read the first volume and hope that the third is quick to follow. The world of comics is so much bigger than the superhero genre and I’m so happy to find well-crafted and exciting stories like Last Call out on the market. This series has stolen my heart and I will not forget about it when the end of the year rolls around. Buy it now.
Score: 10/5 (Yeah that’s right, I fucking doubled the score)
Writer/Artist/Creator: Vasilis Lolos
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: 2/13/13