Written by: Tom Waltz
Art by: Casey Malone
Published by: IDW Publishing
“The Last Fall #1” is a debut mini-series from IDW Publishing that really misses the mark. Opposite the opening page is a quick diagram of the solar system for the fictional universe the series calls home and a relatively lengthy chunk of history which serves as backstory. The comic that follows is neither as compelling as its premise nor as clear in its voice. Writer Tom Waltz went to great pains creating an interesting world only to populate it with bland and boring characters and a plot we’ve seen repeated over and over again. Artist Casey Malone brings a style that seems completely unsuited to the task at hand. His style is rich with cartoon elements and coloured brightly which is an unpleasant contrast to the story which attempts to tell a serious tale.
“The Last Fall #1” isn’t without its redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, they’re just too few to turn the tide for this series. The idea of neighbouring planets facing a doomsday scenario is interesting, but the situation devolving into war is too quickly brushed over. There are plenty of compelling possibilities to explore with that premise, but Waltz instead opts to tell a simple revenge tale, greatly narrowing the scope of the story. “The Last Fall #1” never reaches powerful heights as we fail to care about the conflict, characters, or anything taking place.
Fall as a character comes off as the worst kind of one-dimensional. Considering the competition on shelves there is absolutely no way this series can compete with so nihilistic and such an easily hateable character. Waltz doesn’t provide any reasons to care about his plight. We’re told his family dies but only through a chunky-scripted flashback that breaks any momentum of the story and is rife with poorly constructed dialogue. Fall seems to have no redeeming qualities—unless you call utter contempt for everything, including his own ability to take revenge, a redeeming quality.
Malone isn’t a bad artist, but his style just isn’t suited to a gritty war title. Throughout the book he fails to remain consistent with character designs and the action isn’t terrific plotted out. The book lacks a kinetic feeling that should be evident during extended battle sequences.
Throughout the issue there’s a consistent issue with Fall looking like a child. Malone’s inability to consistently draw the lead character is a distraction and really takes you out of the experience. There are also numerous framing and angle choices that don’t seem to particularly enhance the given scene or setting.
To say that this comic is a missed opportunity is an understatement. The core of the idea behind The Last Fall is actually really interesting which makes the failure of this debut all the more frustrating. In many ways this series is informed by our own history: religious ideals leading to conflict; extremism in retaliation for exploitation; the fear, doubt, and anger that mix together in times of war. The list goes on, and yet none of these themes thrive in the story and serve mainly as talking points for the poorly constructed characters or as fodder for the “What you need to know” page.
“The Last Fall #1” is a poor debut. Where there was possibility for deft and relevant social commentary, there are instead clichés and ineffective set pieces. The creative team is obviously talented but this undertaking may have been too ambitious for them to pull off well. Here’s to hoping their next endeavor better captures their talents, ambition, and creativity.