Review: Last Man vols . 1 and 2 by Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, Balak

Paperback, 208 pages
Expected publication: June 23rd 2015 by First Second (vol 2. Vol 1 was released March 31st, 2015)
Source: Publisher

The Last Man series focuses on Adrian Velba, a kid getting ready to participate in the annual Games which the back copy describes as a “gladiatorial contest,” when his partner gets sick and he is left hanging. Enter Richard Aldana, an adult, who wants to participate in the Games but is partnerless as well. Fates intervene and Adrian has a new partner.

The Games is fought using brawn and magic where the opponents will try to toss each other out of the ring using either brute force or brute…magic. Usually magic as it is seen to be more elegant than force. Only Richard doesn’t have any magic. He prefers doing things the old fashioned way and scoffs at the magic-wielding fusspots. Of course Aldana doesn’t realize that there is a ritual, a beauty, to the fighting preferring to get from A to B by the quickest route possible.

Adrian is dismissed immediately because of his lack of size, experience, and strength. Richard provokes people to anger and scorn for his brutish ways. And well, the Games continue. Some romance brews between Marianne and Richard (though whether it is just physical is still to be seen) and between Adrian and a school friend of his.

The art style is simple but has a lot of impact and the story is very fast-paced. I did feel that the volumes were a bit too sparse on the worldbuilding and could have done with some more setup and elaboration on this village and the world we found ourselves in. I did find the characters intriguing and wanted to know more about them. I am concerned about the representation of women in the series though I found that the climax of the second volume was surprising in a good way and gave me hope that the following volumes will show readers greater complexity and agency where female characters are concerned.

The books are meant for adults and I’d recommend it for older readers.

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