The Last God #1 – Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Writer; Riccardo Federici, Artist; Dean White, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: The Last God #1, an epic fantasy, is the start of a new era for Black Label – it’s the first wholly original property they’ve launched, with no ties to the DCU. Described as “Lord of the Rings with body horror” by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson, it actually feels more like another property – Conan the Barbarian, having a renaissance over at the competition.
It’s the same sort of raw, brutal medieval fantasy with ruthless characters and supernatural horror. With fully painted artwork by Riccardo Federici (who was first brought in as a Stepan Sejic replacement on Aquaman, but has evolved his own style to be grittier but no less detailed), the story tells the tale of a fantasy kingdom that vanquished an ancient threat ages ago. A plague that spawned trees of flesh and possessed monsters, it was eventually defeated by a man named Tyr – who also killed the Gods who supposedly created the curse. Now Tyr is an aged, haunted king who presides over a kingdom that all but worships him, with a queen who handles many of the harsher affairs.
The other half of the story focuses on a young gladiator and slave, Eyvindr, who is on the verge of earning his freedom in the arena. He gets his final victory and is to be set free by the Queen – but she looks at him and sees something that repulses her, breaking the laws of their culture and ordering him returned to the lowest rank of a slave.
This is kept a mystery in this first issue, but Eyvindr remains devoutly worshipful of the royal family, even to the disgust of his fellow slave. The story is a slow burn until the last third of the story when all hell breaks loose and an ancient and horrific threat returns. Lines are drawn, characters die, and a shocking secret is revealed. This is only part one of twelve, so the main job of this issue is to set up the world and dazzle us with the art. At some points it feels derivative of other fantasy works, but it does its job and pulls us in with gorgeous art and creepy, haunting visuals. DC’s new foray into creator-owned work is an intriguing twist, and this week has delivered some high-quality debuts.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.