THE LAST WEST OGN
Writers: Evan Young & Lou Iovino
Artist: Novo Malgapo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
For anyone who thinks the Kardashians are the First Family of the end days, I would like to introduce you to the Wests. A take on Kennedy Camelot, except the Wests turned back the course of the 20th century while the Kennedys pushed us (and their pelvises) forward.
My three regular readers know that my appetite for alternate realities and view askew history is more voracious than Cookie Monster 10 years into Type 2 Diabetes. When I met Lou Iovino at this year’s Wizard World Philadelphia, he asked me if it was the Xerox page power point slide with a thumbnail of Norman Reedus saying “He was not at this booth” that drew me in. Great lead in line, which spurred Lou and I to have a great chat. What drew me in though, was the haunting cover with atom bomb set against he falling sun. Once I knew that the THE LAST WEST was also an exploration of “what today would be like if the bomb never worked” I decided this would be my first read when I got home.
I appreciate every book that is given to me for reviews by creators, I like a few less, I covet only a fraction of that number. THE LAST WEST, I covet thee, because this book could have easily bore the Image logo (with one or two small caveats that I’ll get to). Big Kudos to Alterna for grabbing up this talented and smart property,
The Wests personify the human existence. We have never explosively propelled to our next evolution without first imploding on despair, tragedy and virtual oblivion of the species. It’s how I have always known God plays D&D, you can’t beat that kind of planetary class balancing.
While Lou and team chose to only focus on the Wests being the catalysts for Great American Fails like the Dust Bowl, WW I and the 1929 crash of the market. With Volume II already set ins tone as you’ll learn in a second I really see a world where the guys could serialize this bloodline. Pontius West, Columbus’ navigator, rat fucker West…you get the idea.
Now, where the Wests stop shaping history as we know it and start creating a Biff’s Casino temporal divergence is right when Robert Oppenheimer was ready to set the world on fire. It was in this moment the Wests said no more, sabotaged the blast, and then scuffled off into the realm of lore.
The Wests are selfish assholes. 2014 sucks. No bomb, no unlimited energy, no other real interest in looking at the nanoverse that allows us to carry porn and video games in our pockets. Instead of Google we have Graham where you have to call for a question and then wait days for an irrelevant answer (you know, like Bing). Instead of plastic cars, we still thrive on metal monstrosities. I would even guess that everyone still has copious amounts of pubes because they dress and have the same haircut as my Grandmother. Time is essentially on pause.
As for why the Wests withdrew at that moment in time is a mystery best left unraveled by Volume I. And it is a nice and tidy little mystery as one ordinary Joe navigates this strange world searching for clues that the Wests existed, while powerful puppets of the family try to keep the family’s name and apocalyptic shame a secret.
I can’t spoil the end of this book because there isn’t one, Lou and crew scadattle right at the top of Freytag’s pyramid. That’s OK, because THE LAST WEST Volume II (Apocalyptic Boogalo) is coming shortly – Kickstarter willing. And honestly, I would mark points against the book if there wasn’t another tale on the horizon. See, the book inventively counts chapters backwards starting at 10. I would think this was written by Zooey Daschanel after huffing glade if the book consisted solely of chapters 10-5.
Now, I must offer two cautions with THE LAST WEST to ensure a flawless experience when they use my Volume III ideas.
The art needs to be as bold throughout the whole title as it was on the first few pages. Through clever panel layout and then stopping time, THE LAST WEST sucks you in with A-Bomb implosion power. While I admit too many thematic panels like the atomic symbol on page one would get hokey, I would encourage Malgapo to try it one or two more times in an arc. Also, keep finding the subtle moments like when the ill fated countdown fizzled. Focal points will help excite some of the more talky moments that are necessity of alternate anythings.
The coloring needs a little more work. I get very uncomfortable around clowns and photo negatives of Al Jolsen, so please for the love of God ease up the “light.” Thomas Kincaid stores are closing for a reason and there does not need to be a comic equivalent of JJ Abrams lens flare.
I don’t think these two suggestions are big hurdles to surmount. It’s also a great compliment to a freshman effort that there are only two things to perk up. I have been much harsher on many books from more seasoned professionals with much larger budgets. THE LAST WEST deserves your time and more importantly your contemplation for what their fictional foible says about our real world circumstances.