The Last Barbarians #2
It is a hard line of work to be a jack of all trades in the world of The Last Barbarians.
After losing their credibility with all the specialized employment guilds, sibling duo Sylver and Shadow find themselves out of work, money, and a place to stay. Desperate, they take a shady job offer from a man named Falk, travelling to the city of Antiquarius alongside him and another gun-for-hire, Anka. Together, this party of four is set to rescue Falk's grandson... or nephew. Falk himself doesn't really know.
THE LAST BARBARIANS #2 makes good on the creator’s intent of exploring the serialized and often chaotic storytelling of table-top RPG’s in comic book form.
The biggest strength to this issue, and series in general, has been the creative team’s ability to weave in a significant amount of minor plot points into the narrative that help build the world of THE LAST BARBARIANS in an easy to read and lean way. Moments of downtime within the story, when characters are wandering around the city waiting for time to catch up with them , aren’t just used to build up characters in great ways, but introduce key world concepts regarding it’s magical system. While concrete rules for the science of magic is not key for quality, it does add legitimacy to the world’s realism
Antagonists and side-characters are seeded throughout the plot as it unfolds, building up their motivations with an air of mystery that will drive the reader from issue to issue. Falk’s consistent secrecy in this issue is a key example of how the book maintains an engaging mystery plot without feeling manufactured.
Places of interest and wholly new fantasy cultures are integrated directly into the character’s ways of life and appearance. The story is not bogged down by exposition and lore dumping. Something like Anka’s home, ‘ The Lost Lands’, isn’t just thrown out into the air just to give the series a bigger, more fantasy feel. Her design and character identity are directly connected to the lands in which she came from. Minor antagonists, motivations, and magical macguffins are either foreshadowed or slowly weaved into the plot with clearly portrayed intent/mystery.
Issue #2 also features some great monster designs and fantasy action sequences that are fun to follow.
For sticklers, the plot and characters of The Last Barbarians #2 are relatively paper thin, but still make for an enjoyable read. There is nothing here you haven’t seen before, but the characters are fun to follow and emotionally endearing enough to carry the plot. This issue’s climax does wind up falling into the character’s lap, swerving from the plot that had been previously set up in a way that’s more convenient than subversive at a plotting level.
This feeling of blandness does stem from the book’s visual presentation. Haberlin & Dyke’s style is an uncanny mix of 3D modelling and classical coloring that either looks incredible or garish. While this style can work for some, it does lack an engaging atmosphere thanks to an overuse of floating heads and white spaces. It gets the job done, but is an acquired taste. That being said, when the art duo goes all out, they create pages of genuine beauty:
Francis Takenaga has a talent for guiding the eye with their lettering. The text never competes with the art for space, and flows naturally from panel to panel thanks to the almost masterful formatting of a relatively word-heavy script. There was never a moment where I missed something in the panels because the lettering failed to guide the eye.
The Last Barbarians #2 is good ol' fashioned sword & sorcery fun. In a comics market devoid of classical fantasy comics, it does scratch, but fails to stand out with this issue. It's a fine read, but nothing you haven't seen before.
The Last Barbarians #2: The Adventures Begin
- Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 7/107/10
- Color - 7/107/10
- Cover Art - 5/105/10