The story begins with a map of the solar system where it takes place, followed by a brief description of the key planets involved and their social and political climates. Yes, the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” from thirty years ago does exactly that, as does Tom Waltz and Casey Maloney’s “The Last Fall” #1. However, this striking similarity ends as the actual story begins, as Waltz’ story is much simpler, focusing primarily on weary soldier Marcus Fall, whose participation in a seemingly endless interplanetary war has made him dangerously unpredictable and apathetic towards those he fights for.
Despite the surface similarities to “Dune,” Waltz actually lays out a pretty compelling backdrop in his introduction, and it’s almost disappointing that the story he then chooses to tell only uses that scenario as a framework. Still, Fall’s story isn’t a bad one to tell, as Waltz starts things off with a skirmish that establishes Fall’s method of operations that’s not unlike that of an interstellar Rambo, where he salvages a military operation, emerging with no casualties on his side as well as some valuable strategic intelligence.
Waltz then flashes back to Fall’s younger — and happier — days, complete with a family, although even then his disdain for the theocratic order that governs his life is evident.
In between, something has apparently happened in Fall’s life where all he once cherished is now gone, and is presumably to be explained in future issues. For now, though, Waltz sufficiently establishes Fall’s character and the situation he finds himself in within the course of this issue, both of which are intriguing enough to make this first issue worthwhile. Waltz doesn’t do as much character building as he has world building, but he builds up his protagonist just enough to carry the issue. He also plants seeds for an eventual conflict with Fall’s commanding officer, as well as the higher ranking major who’s surprisingly tolerant of Fall’s insubordinate behavior.
Maloney’s strengths as an artist lie in his own world building vision. His battlesuits look a little clunky, but he pays admirable attention to detail regarding the variations based on rank and function. The high-priest major’s armaments are a clever mashup of priestly raiment and military officer, and colorist Dusty Yee helps Maloney bring to life a war-torn world that’s not without its beauty. Fall looks a little too bug-eyed at times, though; the wide-eyed Fall during the rage of battle or after the shock of waking from a bad dream looks more like some kind of caricature than a character under emotional duress.
“The Last Fall” #1 delivers a strong enough start to an interesting story, but would have benefitted from a little more development at the personal level in addition to the interplanetary one.