Killbook of a Bounty Hunter is a massive tome coming in at nearly 270 pages. It's not a traditional graphic novel, though the series does plan to continue that way in Once Upon a Time in Amerika. Instead, the Killbook is sort of a who's who of the world of Last Man Standing. Given the lengths to which creator Dan Luvisi has gone to detail this world, I can see why they chose to put out this book first, and, the thing is, it's vastly entertaining on its own.
The Killbook is primarily filled with dossiers on the allies, neutral parties, and targets of Gabriel. Each entry provides information on the character's background, affiliations, strengths, weaknesses, and weapons along with Gabriel's history with them. These characters include folks like Alice, the lead guitarist for the band Protecting My Society (P.M.S.), one of the leaders of a rebellion against Armtech, and a wicked shot with that guntar of hers. There is also Fish, a German fisherman who crashed into an experimental ship and is now a 700-pound mutated sharkman boxer and owner of a franchise of seafood restaurants. Lastly, there is Gizmo, Gabriel's former cat and Amerika's number one cat actor. The world of Last Man Standing goes for over-the-top often but beneath the surface there is pain and reality, with the extraneous and “awesome” bits and babbles layered on top of each character. No one starts off a monster or a saint, and each entry supports this. Along with the official dossier part, Gabriel provides commentary on each of the characters, and there is a gorgeous piece of accompanying art that shows the character in a dynamic scene. The digital art in the Killbook is extremely detailed; there are so many little touches on each of the character designs. Everything from their clothing choice to their tattoos is carefully selected and is usually a launching point for a tangent by Gabriel.
Which takes us to the other part of the book, Gabriel's tangents. In between character entries, Gabriel provides a little more information what the world's like in the 2660s. Sometimes, this takes the form of an ad and some commentary on Guntar's after Alice's character entry or the story behind The Guardian movies based on Gabriel's life. This back and forth style keeps the book from growing stale. The advertisements, movie posters, brochures, and photos created for this book are incredible and, once again, oh so detailed. Going back to my example thus far, take the Guntar ad. It's not enough to give the Guntar an awesome catch phrase, copy, and logo, but the ad, of course, shows the dozen or so attachments available for the Guntar, all the way down to the grooves on an additional grip option.
The world of Last Man Standing is pretty messed up, from the way the map has changed (Seriously, Virginia. How the hell did you end up in between South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska?!) to the fact that candy is drugged, to the fact that a company has taken over half the world through brute force. Few names are recognizable with even the mostly familiar like Amerika are still a letter off. These changes say a lot about the world and the changes to even normally familiar cities. For example, Las Vegas is now known as Vice City, which pretty much says it all and is an extrapolation on what Vegas is to us today. The evolution of the world of LMS is pretty scary in that much of it is extrapolated from ours and what would occur in 600 years, but it's also fascinating. Gabriel is a great narrator, possessing the right degrees of sarcasm, angst, and arrogance to introduce this messed up future.
The last 70 pages or so of the book change gears, focusing on art provided by dozens of different artists that are incredible from the fully detailed digital painting of Gabriel riding a velociraptor riding a whale to the quick doodles of a disgruntled-looking Gabriel spilling Filler candy all over the floor. The guest art runs the gamut and is worth flipping through.
If I've got one complaint about Last Man Standing, it's that there isn't more out there. The Killbook is great and well worth reading, but I'd have rather seen and not been told about a lot of the world. Perhaps even have saved these Killbook style entries for the back of issues. Luvisi has crafted a cool world, but the question is still out there whether or not it can deliver on story. We'll have to wait for Gabriel to make his move and begin his hunt, but, in the meantime, at least we have the Killbook to help us prepare.
Five Shredding Guntars out of Five