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In the midst of a sea of superhero, sci-fi, and horror comics stands The Last Siege– a gritty, grueling, and dark medieval action story from Image Comics’ creators Landry Q. Walker and Justin Greenwood. The first issue of this new creator-owned series may have set up the hopeless world of The Last Siege, but it’s the second issue that really gets the story moving. Although The Last Siege #2 struggles a bit with pacing, it succeeds in further progressing the still nameless main character, building its world even more, and setting the stage for both immediate and long term conflict.
Writer Landry Q. Walker, artist Justin Greenwood, and colorist Eric Jones work in tandem to create an unrelentingly hopeless tone in The Last Siege #2. Greenwood draws a town devoid of people while the few people remaining just look tired, absent, and suspicious. Jones then lays on layer upon layer of drab, muted colors that suck any notion of contentment out of every scene, with the only bright colors coming from violent streaks of blood that hint the only way to escape this world is through violence. Walker’s scripts are devoid of any humor or hope, focusing on cold, calculated tactical planning for the incoming siege.
All these aspects work together flawlessly to deliver an unwavering sense of hopelessness, despair, and gravitas to the world of The Last Siege. The consistency of these themes across visuals, colors, and the script really immerse the reader in the story in a way that shows the bleak reality rather than telling the reader how bleak it is.
While the protagonist still lacks a name (I’ll refer to him simply as “the Traveler”), this aspect doesn’t detract readers from wanting to gain further insight into his character — which makes him all the more intriguing. In the first issue, the Traveler came off as a cardboard cutter strong and silent type, but by the end of issue #2 readers can see he is so much more. He displays tremendous tactical prowess in the planning of the incoming siege and deftly rebukes any detractors who doubt his plans.
There’s even subtle hints dropped about his past and why he chose to take over as lord of this castle in the first place. It’s still a bit frustrating not even knowing his name, but the amount of progression dedicated to the Traveler in just this one issue makes him a deeper character than who he appeared to be in the first issue.
The issue unfortunately sputters throughout due to its pacing and narrative framework. Rather than cover two different stories in a linear fashion, Walker opts to bounce back and forth between moments throughout the story. Usually this works in various forms of storytelling, however the stark contrast between the violence being portrayed in the wilderness and the calm planning within the keep ends up causing this narrative framework to dilute the efficacy of both scenes.
The fight in the wilderness is still good and appropriately brutal, but the overall sense of speed and intensity is ruined when it is constantly interrupted by four pages of siege planning. Conversely, the siege planning can be a little tricky to follow when the focus shifts back to a bloodsoaked fight every few pages. Both sequences are still good in this issue, but I feel like they would’ve been better had they simply been told one-after-another instead of being woven together.
Regardless of how they’re framed, both these sequences succeed in setting the series up with both immediate and long term conflict. The fight and ensuing jailbreak in the wilderness sets up a small scale siege in the near future while the Traveler’s planning shows their is a greater conflict looming on the horizon. This gives The Last Siege narrative complexity, showcasing its ability to juggle a far-reaching main narrative and a more immediate side narrative at the same time.
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There is a bit of let down when it comes to the reveal at the issue’s end. I won’t spoil anything, but the pages leading up to the conclusion give the feeling that this reveal will be some massive, narrative or personal revelation about the Traveler’s presence. Instead, it ends up being a completely tactical revelation that will certainly be great when the siege begins, but didn’t bring the cliffhanger climax some readers may expect.
The comic book industry is overflowing with superhero, sci-fi, and horror stories making a book like The Last Siege unique simply for being outside these genres. Luckily for readers, The Last Siege happens to also be a comic that uses all elements of the medium to tell the story. The Last Siege #2 is no exception. Despite a wonky narrative framework, The Last Siege #2 blends script, art, and colors together to build upon its bleak world with solid character progression and a promising narrative direction.
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