Last October I rode around lower Manhattan in cab so packed with nerdom, jocks across the world all hated nerds and cabs for just a moment. The event was New York Comic Con, and the state of Optimous was greatly inebriated. Had I been sober I would have remembered LAST BORN writer Patrdick Meaney tooling around with us. I would have also retained an ounce of our introduction with my paltry reviewing credentials greatly overshadowed by Patrick’s documentary work on almost every influential comic creator ever, his work as part of the business end of Black Mask studios, and a whisper of a project that would throw him even deeper into this medium he so clearly adores.
I won’t forget Patrick again, because LAST BORN is one of those rare comics built from the Morrison mold of cosmic scope grounded through the lens of human experience.
In these types of experiments, that scope must be awe inspiring and the character lens intriguing. Patrick accomplishes this feat by starting on ground level before looking up. Julia is a typical nineteen sixties gal; she has dreams of going to college, which as her over bearing Aunt reminds us is ridiculous for a woman when she has the much better option of being impregnated; she has a sweet beau who wants to filleth her with child, but uppity ole’ Julia insists on being “free to follow her dreams” whatever that means; and finally she gets her wish for freedom granted by finding the cave that houses the secret well which drover her father insane in the 1940’s and whisks her away to the year 2341 where mankind stands on the cusp of extinction. You know, just typical end of the Eisenhower era girl stuff.
That was the easy part of the two issues. If you feel your brain bleeding out of your ears, move on to something more linear.
In the end days, Julia meets another inhabitant named Ford and his feral lady friend. North America is our focal point, but in this time the entire world has been devoured by a telepathic borg like species that can share thoughts and transform into any shape your mind finds most soothing. Kind of like Odo from Deep Space Nine, but way more douchey.
Issue 2 jumps ahead in time a bit where Julia and crew have settled into a nice rhythm of apocalyptic life. Instead of learning more about her new family, meaney throws in a new dynamic and with that one action separates LAST BORN from your typical Stranger in a Strange Land theme. Another time traveller arrives and he holds the secret to ending this human Armageddon, only problem is he will have to end everything.
I wasn’t surprised to really dig the story of LAST BORN, Meaney has not only read the great comics he breathed in the essence of the creators. I have to believe the instant you shake hands with Morrison if you lick your palm quickly some kind of LSD talent sweat will kick in. Seriously though, great writers read greater writers and Patrick has more than done his homework.
Eric Zawadzki keeps a very good pace with Meaney’s prose, with some very inventive panel layouts especially in issue 2. I ask that though that he keeps honing his talent on faces and hands. I know they are both a bitch, I have heard enough of my artist friends complain about them, but they really both need a bit more detail to tickle the pleasures centers of the hyper-stylized current mass market of comic consumers.
Black Mask continues to beat a slow and steady rising drumbeat in comics. No matter what your political beliefs, their OCCUPY COMIC was a gargantuan feat in simply wrangling that many creators together. No matter if you agreed or disagreed with the message of each vignette, every story was very well crafted.
With LAST BORN, Black Mask can now add humanistic Sci-Fi to their roster and I encourage them to keep branching out. Image currently holds the market on comics that will make you think, I say there’s room for another player in town.