On the surface, this story looks like something you've read before: most powerful being on the planet takes twist from the standard tale and is evil/misunderstood/aloof and uninterested. We've seen it in "Kingdom Come" and "Irredeemable" among other places. Naturally, this comic could be easily and quickly dismissed as a retread of those concepts.
Except you'd be wrong.
It is equal parts "Irredeemable," "Thunderbolts," and "Dynamo 5." The story finds a band of weary "mortals" seeking the aid of the final remaining "Great," as his kind was dubbed. The Last -- so much more than mortal and so surprisingly like Superman with all of the attitude of Victor Von Doom - has little interest in mankind's plight, but is afforded the opportunity to relive the events that brought both man and super-man to this point. Joshua Hale Fialkov does a great job laying out the story to this point, making this issue extremely accessible to any new reader.
Fialkov also backloads this story, throwing in multiple twists and surprises that shake up the seemingly mundane tale that marches through the first half of the issue. The story is well paced and intelligently crafted. While Fialkov does nothing to make the Last endearing to the reader, he does manage to make the story compelling and emphasizes that intensity with the last page.
Brent Peeples and Matthew Waite deliver some very good art in this issue, reminiscent of Mahmud Asrar's work on "Dynamo 5." At times there are even visible influences of Barry Kitson and early Paul Pelletier. Peeples and Waite do a good job filling the panels with detail and empowering the characters to act and express a wide range of emotions There are some rough areas, as some expressions and facial features get a little soft in some spots, but for the most part, the book is a strong visual collection. Not great, but very good and reader-friendly.
Mirka Andolfo's colors enhance the chilling mood set in the lair of the Last, and the mostly cool palette throughout the book makes the extremes -- violence and battle -- that much more extreme. Troy Peteri caps off the visuals of this book by giving the Last an innovative speech style. Thinking about it, I would imagine a super-powered alien would sound quite a bit different than your everyday Joe, and in this case, it's nicely handled.
I came into this book not knowing what to expect, and midway through, I was a bit disappointed. It seemed like a recycled story from top to bottom, all the way down to the last being in a palace of crystal, not unlike a fortress of solitude made from alien crystals. Fialkov hit me with a rather unexpected brutal twist, and then through a couple more into the book, and before I knew it, I was done with the first issue and looking forward to the second.
There's been some stiff competition for new readers with a plethora of new series (not just from DC's relaunch, but seemingly all the publishers), but this one is one of the more memorable tales I've read in the last couple of months. Fialkov has a fun story here with an engaging delivery for that story, and he's got me onboard for the rest of this tale.