Vol. 4 of The Last Man
Balak + Sanlaville + Vive̒s
Once again, this volume of The Last Man saga relies on knowledge of the previous three volumes. The fights are on and the plot thickens in this latest installment The Show. The reader, in this volume, is taken on a ride with new characters, new plot developments and new crises. The team of Balak, Saniville and Vive̒s, have upped the ante in this spellbinding graphic novel. It is even compelling enough for you to pick up the first three installments to bring you up to speed.
The writing is far more dynamic in this installment. The dialogue is terse, poignant, and doesn’t waver from character. The plotting is far more in depth than in previous installments. The twists and turns that happen are almost surprising to the reader and promotes further immersion into the story; both as an individual piece, and part of a larger story arc. The seedy districts of the metropolis, suit the thematic elements and brings a new twist to the previous volumes. The team has put together a winning mix of action and intrigue to keep you reading until the final page.
The characters are far more developed in The Show. With the previous three volumes, the personas in the volume are now fully fleshed out individuals, three-dimensional in their presentation and given enough leeway to add to the plot twists and intrigue mentioned earlier. In traditional manga style, not everything is what it seems, though, and the new characters introduced belay that sense of insecurity in the main protagonists. Here we see a real bonding between mother and son as they make their way through the trials of The Show, and the maze of the corrupt, professional fighting underbelly. You can truly feel for the protagonists now, and the slow start to the series now seems intentional, bringing you to the fevered action of the graphic novel.
The art, as always, is slick and clean – incredibly well rendered for the topic it covers. The realistic backgrounds and stylized manga characters, is as beautiful and well composed. There are no qualms here, about stating the art is worth the price of admission. Skillful lines and shading, often deep shading, depict fantastically, the crime ridden world the characters interact in. The style is taken with lettering (or dialogue balloons) in mind and the graphic novel reads both pictorially and word-wise well. The bold drawings during the bouts, “break the line” (or cause the human body to be depicted in an unrealistic manner – normally achieved by “breaking” the center line of the figure) and have a powerful impact on the fight scenes. Applause must go to the art team for keeping the art fresh and dynamic.
For fans of the Street Fighter comics, the movie Ninja Scroll, and the Matrix spin off the Animatrix, This is a sure shoe-in for your tastes. For those of you who want an introduction to manga that has both strong male and female leads, this just might be the story you’re looking for. Overall the graphic novel The Show might be a jumping on point for you.