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Still More :01 Week

And my goodness, there are things happening that didn’t originate with :01 Books (if you can imagine such a thing): Emily Carroll did the illustrations on a new book that released yesterday; the Jim Zub-penned Skullkickers (with the vast majority of art duties over the past five years and three dozen issues handled by Edwin Huang and Misty Coats) comes to an end as a comic book today, although it lives on in webcomic reruns (where it’s probably got about half a year to go).

But there are two pieces of :01 discussion I wanted to have today.

First, the book that I will be discussing in detail below is the first mentioned here at Fleen to be designed by Danielle Ceccolini, whose hiring I mentioned in conjunction with last year’s New York Comic Con. Some of the review copies I’ve received have Ceccolini designing covers for books that have predecessors in a series, or which are designed with one or more other people; solo standalone books are also in the stack. There’s a long lead time on publishing, and I’m certain that Ceccolini is thrilled to see the first tranche of her designs finally getting out into the world.

Second, that book is The Chase, the third volume of the Last Man series. This is the book where the pattern established in the previous two gets upended, and which sets a new pattern that wasn’t previously apparent.

The upended pattern is that it’s a Eurocomic-style fight-tournament manga; it’s got ritualized fighting elements, but it’s more of a mystery story. The oddly medieval/magical land of the first two books is left behind for a more decaying society teetering on the edge of chaos. It’s not quite a Mad Maxian postapocalypse, more like a failed state that is in a pre-post-apocalypse rut; we see hints that there are more civilized corners of the world where technology is made instead of scavenged.

Other parts of the decaying wasteland motif are turned upside down as well — there are the uncontrolled, semi-mutant “police” and “justice system” that are a thin veneer of pretense over barbarism, which we’ve seen a million times before. But in that decaying world where the cops are literal bandits, did you ever wonder what the firefighters are like?

They’re pretty bestial, but they are determined to help and are willing to enthusiastically run over anything in their way to be of service, even get into a brawl with the cops if that’s what it takes. They’re in the book for three pages, max, and if they’re just as quasi-semi-mutant-pre-post-apocalyptic as the rest of a every-man-for-himself society, they are at least selflessly so. It’s a fresh and hilarious take on the trope, and they are just one of the twists to be seen here in the borderlands.

The new pattern is right there on the spine of the book — at the very bottom of spine, below the :01 log is a thumbnail of the character that dominates the book. It wasn’t obvious before, but book one was really all about young Adrian Velba, book two about mysterious stranger Richard Aldana, and book three is about Adrian’s mother, Marianne.

She was a typical mother looking out for a young kid before; now she’s revealed to be knowledgeable about the wide world, an extraordinarily resourceful traveler, a crazy-skilled (to the point of nigh-suicidal) motorcyclist, and the most dangerous fighter we’ve seen yet. She consistently underplays her hand until things get seriously dangerous, then she hands this lawless pseudo-quasi-semi-mutant-pre-post-apoacalyptic town’s brutal enforcement regime its ass without breaking a sweat. Marianne Velba is not a slightly overprotective mom but rather a rampaging valkyrie who will lay waste to anything that threatens her son or obstructs her path of discovery.

But more importantly, this is her book, no question, making it clear that Last Man is going to have shifting protagonists; maybe book four will give us a new POV character, maybe we’ll rotate back through the three we’ve seen already. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time the series is done it turns out it was mostly Marianne’s story and should have been called Last Woman.

Last Man: The Chase is by Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, and Balak, with translation from the French by Alexis Siegel. It releases on 6 October, which should give you enough time to find and absorb Last Man: The Stranger and Last Man: The Royal Cup, and try to figure out where the story is going. As always, Fleen thanks Gina Gagliano at :01 for providing the review copies.

Spam of the day:

Famous Theological Uncovers Church Conspiracy No.6283187

They’re numbering Church conspiracies now? That’s pretty organized.

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