THE LAST SIEGE #1 by Landry Q. Walker and Justin Greenwood
THE LAST SIEGE #1 adequately sets up the premise for the series' first story arc. However, Walker and Greenwood will need to spill some serious blood moving forward if they hope to keep readers returning.
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THE LAST SIEGE is a new ongoing series from Image Comics, written by Landry Q. Walker with art by Justin Greenwood. THE LAST SIEGE #1 competently sets up a foreboding medieval-inspired universe for what’s to come. Still, THE LAST SIEGE #1 needs to be darker and more violent to really establish the series.

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A Sparse Set-Up

THE LAST SIEGE takes place during the last throws of war between the West and an invading king from the East. The invading king has sent knights to the remaining free territories within the Western kingdom to consolidate power. Now, just one castle evades the rule of the king from the East, but just barely. The story picks up with Fiest, a knight from the East, beginning to overtake this castle.

A quick text blurb in the front of THE LAST SIEGE #1 relays the above information to the reader. Typically, I’m a big believer in “show, don’t tell” when it comes to storytelling. I do make exceptions when we are being introduced to a plot or setting that’s complex. Unfortunately, I don’t think THE LAST SIEGE warrants an exception. A lot of the above description is pretty unspecific — a king from the East, territories in the West, etc. However, this differentiation between “West” and “East” may be a part of how the comic is paying homage to the Spaghetti Western. More importantly, I think it would have been a stronger choice to integrate this information into the dialogue of the comic. In fact, the conversation that takes place between the royal advisors conveys most of this information.

Image Courtesy of Image Comics

Furthermore, this introduction, due to its lack of specificity, doesn’t really give us a sense of scope — how big are these territories exactly? I would have loved a map or some other nugget of lore to display the unique context of this story. Here’s to hoping the world of THE LAST SIEGE gets fleshed out more as the series continues.

Palace Intrigue and a Bar Brawl

The smartest decision made in THE LAST SIEGE #1 is the tonal juxtaposition of Plot A and Plot B. In Plot A, a stranger arrives at the castle and ends up in a pretty serious bar brawl with a pugnacious knight who doesn’t take too kindly to outsiders. In Plot B, two royal advisors are locked in a discussion. They are considering marrying Lady Cathryn, who we see playing on her bed with a doll, off to a knight as a means to broker a peace. And, if the doll didn’t give it away, Lady Cathryn is a preteen at the oldest.

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These two plots compliment each other perfectly — one shows how the political tides have shifted since Fiest arrived at this territory, while the other demonstrates the ongoing violence and turmoil within the castle. It becomes clear why these royal advisors are seriously considering marrying a child off — to restore some sense of stability.

I do have concerns for Lady Cathryn — it seems that she’s the prototypical damsel in distress. The comic itself draws our attention to her lack of agency. Because she is young and female, it is pointed out by the advisors that she cannot take part in the diplomatic negotiations. Her fate is not her own to decide. Given how helpless she seems and how self-aware THE LAST SIEGE is regarding her helplessness, I’m hoping she develops as a character in a meaningful way as the series continues.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound!

The opening pages of THE LAST SIEGE #1 contain absolutely no text. This really provides an opportunity for Greenwood’s work to shine. The dull coloring characterizes the world of THE LAST SIEGE #1 better than any text-based opening could — bleak, seemingly hopeless. The lines are heavy, and as a result, every character just feels tired. You can tell war has been draining on everyone.

Unfortunately, the visuals are a missed opportunity that could have really set THE LAST SIEGE #1 apart. I was anticipating some serious carnage, GAME OF THRONES style. All we got were a few scratches. My hope is that Greenwood is practicing some restraint here, and the level of violence will pick up as the plot accelerates in this Spaghetti Western-inspired narrative.

Image Courtesy of Image Comics

The action in this comic, although smartly juxtaposed with Plot B, lacks the oomph I would expect. In some panels, the art misses in terms of dynamism. Images that depict characters thrusting their arms forward look oddly static despite well-intentioned action lines. It feels like Greenwood is hesitant to really go for the jugular in THE LAST SIEGE #1. Even the stellar opening had a few hiccups — the ravens, you know the ones eating the flesh from what I’m assuming to be a human rib cage? They’re kind of adorable looking. The art needs to be darker for this series to truly accomplish what it sets out to do.

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Final Thoughts on THE LAST SIEGE #1

THE LAST SIEGE has yet to arrive. However, I do see potential in the series. My hope is that this first issue is building up to an exceptionally bloody conclusion to the first story arc. Otherwise, the series threatens to fall flat. The story takes place in a pretty generic medieval setting. But, there’s nothing wrong with the basics if they’re done right. And that’s the thing — there’s nothing wrong with THE LAST SIEGE. However, given the abundance of exceptional comics on the market, I’m not sure that the series can set itself apart from the pack.

THE LAST SIEGE will have to fight to keep readers interested. Hopefully, as the series progresses, it will find its footing and establish a niche for itself. In the meantime, I can’t say for sure that this is a series I would return to a second time.

THE LAST SIEGE #1 will release on May 30, 2018. You can preorder it here.

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