Vol. 5 of The Last Man
Balak + Sanlaville + Vive̒s
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
Once again, this volume of The Last Man saga relies on knowledge of the previous four volumes. However, it makes an exciting jumping on point. The Order ramps up the action seen in The Last Man series, adding in mystery and intrigue and a little down time in amongst the high octane fighting that has become staple in the series of graphic novels. This volume is by far the best so far in the series, adding more characterization to familiar faces, and pulse pounding tension. This has become a high point in my favorite series of euro-manga reading.
Firstly, the writing in The Order is top rate. Starting off clumsily – more than likely a factor of setting up such a grand story arc – leaves you spellbound. Flowing naturally off of the page, even most of the action seems scripted, a brilliant testament to the writer/artist interaction. Told through dialogue, between the protagonists and antagonists, the series jumps off the page with solid three-dimensional characterization, and explodes with exciting and rattling scenes. Admittedly it’s taken five volumes to achieve this, but now the series is in full-fledged, no-holds barred swing, and it pays off. Even the intrigue and mysteries, some resolved and new ones, have been told through dialogue, and this only adds to the likeability of Manthe series. Even a touch of science fiction enters the fray, adding to the grand plot.
The artwork is a little less flashy in the later parts of the graphic novel The Order is definitely no slouch. The solid and lavish backgrounds are beautifully rendered, captivating the reader’s eye. There is a fine line between showy art and skillfully crafted art and The Order falls into the latter. Regardless of situation, the pencils and inks read easily yet can also be poured over. Characters are remarkable in their design, each having a distinctive look, and this helps separate them in the rapid shot action sequences. Facial expressions are deftly drawn and convey the roller coaster emotions excellently. I really can’t rave enough about the art in this series. It has been the hallmark of The Last Man series since the first volume, even when the writing was poorly executed. The synergy between art and writing in this volume is miles and miles away from where it started from and it shows in the staccato action sequences. The later part of the book subtly removes the backgrounds to focus on characterization, and it’s pulled off without a hitch.
Overall, if you’re fans of the Street Fighter comics, Dragonball-Z or the fight based manga in general you’ll find The Order and The Last Man series to be right up your alley. A combination of phenomenal writing and skillful art intertwining into a cohesive whole will wet your appetites for more. I eagerly anticipate Volume six when it gets released.