After a wait of eight long years, Tito Faraci (Italian comic writer) and Dan Brereton’s (Nocturnals, Batman: Thrillkiller) OGN Last Battle finally hit American comic shops last November. The wait was well worth it. Much has been made over Brereton’s venture out of his usual genres of horror and crime books, as though an art school graduate who went directly into the field upon graduation and who’s worked steadily ever since should not be able to handle a professional assignment. I guess most fans are too used to the superstar creators continually stripmining the superhero genre for profit.
But my snarkiness aside, any creator who leaves their “comfort zone” to venture into new territory should be applauded. Brereton did meticulous amounts of research into the historical period during which the book takes place and it shows in the work. In the last decade, Brereton’s work has taken on an even more polished quality, and Last Battle is an early formative step towards the works he’s done since (Nocturnals: Carnival of Beasts, Franken-Castle). His paintings are rich and vibrant. His characters all uniquely designed and fleshed out.
I’m not familiar with Tito Faraci’s past work, but his scripting here is rich and has been translated well into the English language. The book is filled with themes that resonate in our currently politically overcharged atmosphere (which suggests to me that the wait was actually beneficial, as the book may not have gotten the notice it did if released here earlier).
The plot concerns General Rodius, a soldier called back to service by Julius Caesar to hunt down the leader of a group of Celts who are causing difficulty for Rome. Rodius agrees to the task despite two potential objections: A: he is no longer sure if the Rome he’s fought for still exists and B) the man he is to hunt down is Cammius, who Rodius adopted as a boy and trained him as though he were his own son.
The book shifts between scenes as we’re given looks into all of the major players and their concerns. Again, the publishing delay has helped bring the book a more timely feel. Politics, intrigues, and ultimately betrayal follow Rodius and his band on their reluctant mission. This book is well worth reading for fans of history, beautiful art, or just plain good comics. Not too many books hit in late November and immediately make Best of the Year lists. This one did, and there’s a damn good reason why. Because it was one of them. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy at your LCS.