Publisher: Image Shadowline
Written, Illustrated & Covers by: Brian Haberlin
Coloured by: Geirrod Van Dyke
Lettered by: Francis Takenaga
Written by & production by: Hannah Wall

Regular Bigger Than Capes readers and listeners will know I’m a big fan of the previous works of this creative team. We delved into a sci-fi retelling of a classic with Jules Vernes Lighthouse. Then we had police procedural mystery mixed with a hellish world and a touch of steampunk style aesthetic in Hellcop. Now the worlds the team have tackled expand further with The Last Barbarians, this time a take on a fantasy world with a twist. All part of what does feel like a rich multiverse at this point.

Our main POV character this time is Slyv, short for Slyver, who relies on taking jobs for the various guilds whilst not belonging to any. She’s therefore a barbarian by the social norms of her world. She has a brother, Shadow, who is big, strong and pretty stupid, and is helped out on occasion by a panda looking hedgehog, Randall Hedington Hamstead the sixteenth known as Hedgy. They are an interesting mix.

Slyv definitely evokes Brian Haberlin’s other strong female characters. She is intriguing in that she’s had a past trauma and a mystery surrounding that past too. I liked having her as the narrator as her voice comes across really strongly from the start. It’s exposition but it doesn’t feel overly intrusive. I like how there are little nods to narrative with some subtle fourth wall breaking. A protagonist who appears to have some sense of their world always adds something a bit different, even if it can be read as a flippant remark.

The other characters are interesting. As well as the aforementioned Shadow and Hedgy there’s Maisey one of Slyv’s only friends. There’s a range of personalities from Shadow’s never ending optimism to Hedgy’s more businesslike friendship and Maisey’s genuine care in looking out for Slyv. Mix in with at a mysterious cleric, various guild representatives and you have a good solid bunch of characters that are individual and interesting, all bringing something different to Slyv’s efforts to make a place in the world.

It’s an interesting world to be sure.

The art is digital as it has been for the previous books. If you don’t like the style of it at this point then this won’t convince you. But I think there are some really nice touches. The panel layout works super well as always and there’s some liquid dripping out of a panel onto the page below that is striking. It’s never dull and reading it keeps you engaged in the visuals.

Character design wise they are all interesting. Hedgy is probably the most interesting visually but then he’s the non-human character. Again your mileage may vary on the art style and the character expressions. Some of them do drift into exaggerated features which, if digital art is not your thing, might not work for you. Personally I thought they worked well.

Also flying whales. I feel this deserves a sentence on its own because flying whales. That one little visual detail just throws the whole thing into another world. It takes it just that bit beyond generic fantasyland into the realm of something just a bit alien. Plus it looks really awesome.

The pacing as always is top notch. This feels a really decent introduction to the characters and the world because it feels so much longer then 30 pages. Honestly I would have sworn it was a double issue and was really surprised how few pages there were relative to the plot. A lot happens but it’s never rushed. It’s a meaty first issue despite being only standard length. You get such a decent feel for everything you can enjoy the read much more.

If you want to read a fun alien take on fantasy with well drawn characters and some intriguing plot then this is the book for you. The setting is interesting and the world building solid. It’s throwing around details that draw you in. For me this was a really good first issue and this is another world I want to see more of. The Last Barbarians is a great first issue.

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