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Last Born #1

by mahargen on October 01, 2014

Writer:  Patrick Meaney
Art:  Eric Zawadzki
Publisher:  Black Mask
 
 
Everyone wants adventure.  It is a common thing not only in comic books, but storytelling in general.  The desire to be someone else, somewhere else, far from a life of supposed confinement.  Black Mask brings us just such a story, that of Julia, hailing from the strange and mysterious world of 1961.
 
 
Don’t let the elongated introduction to Julia’s world confuse you.  This is a science fiction story, pure and simple.  Meaney crafts a world here in just a few pages that makes the reader understand Julia’s position.  She is caring for her ailing father, living with her put-upon aunt and involved with a very nice suitor; but she is missing something.  The social impact of setting the story in 1961 is very important to the story.  While gender equality is far from perfect in today’s society, women in the early 1960s contended with a very different set of social mores.  Julia’s desire to be her own woman and find adventure made her a woman out of time, making the direction of the story that much more interesting.
 
 
“Last Born” starts off fairly innocuously, but spirals quickly into its inherent sci-fi natures.  Julia is eventually ripped from her place in time and space and thrust into another world.  This is a very jarring scene for our main character, but equally jarring for the reader.  In the best way possible, that is.  The sudden confusion Julia goes through matches our own feelings as the story takes a wild turn.  I’ll leave the specifics to you when you read it, which you should, but all the staples are there.  Mysterious caves.  Forbidden swamps.  Fractured psyches.  Terrible futures.  Strangers.  They’re all there, and they’re  building towards something.  Meaney plays the cards close to his chest, revealing a few scattered facts about the story, but for the most part we end up with many questions and few answers.  Just a like a good introductory issue.

 
We haven’t spoken about Zawardzki’s art yet.  If you know anything about me, it’s that I really enjoy sci-fi and space comics.  And when it comes to critiquing the art with those books, I judge it mainly on set pieces and the balance between absurd and believable character designs.  “Last Born” definitely comes grounded in reality, which is nice, especially when we’re dealing with a seemingly post-apocalytpic future.    The set designs convey the message that yes, this is the Earth we know and love, and yes, bad things have happened.  One of the biggest dangling threads Meaney left were the humanoid creatures present when Julia emerges into the future.  Zawadzki brings them to life in a very unsettling manner.  Their familiar shape and appearance gives way to a deadness that really makes the reader question what is happening.  The sudden shift in the color palette of the story was welcome as well, changing drastically when Julia flees her life in 1961.  The message of being an outsider and seeking something else is conveyed clearly through both story and art, and I look forward to reading how Julia impacts, and is impacted by, the future.
 

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Matthew lives a stable suburban life outside of Chicago.  He doesn’t feel trapped though.  Well, mayble a little.  Regardless, he can be found on Twitter as @mahargen.  Also, he highly suggests you check out Patrick Meaney’s films based on comic staples Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis and Neil Gaiman.  Quality viewing.

Our Score:

7/10

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