The Last God is told through parallel stories taking place 30 years apart. One is the story of the original fellowship of brave heroes who "killed the last living god, saving the realm of Cain Anuun from the tyrant's apocalyptic army" known as the "Flowering Dead" and became rulers and legends across the lands. The second story, taking place 30 years after, reveals that the last living god has not perished and the original fellowship may not be the heroes they seem. In their absence, a new fellowship must be formed to tackle the sins of the past and to kill the last living god for good.
Issue #7 sheds more light on Haakon the Peerless, a character we know will eventually betray the original fellowship to earn his current title of Haakon the Shamed, and introduces the House of Ruarc, a place of great evil influence where the cracks begin to form between the allied heroes. While a less-skilled writer could easily fall into tired tropes of our characters being "turned evil” in stereotypical fashions, as if with the stroke of a wand, Johnson depicts the beginning of a subtle and unnerving unraveling of the good intentions the group possesses, showing how truly fragile alignments that affect world events can be, as well as the ever-painful truth that the individual and values that win “the war” may be sadly lacking when they are applied elsewhere.
When it comes to Fanbase Press' 2020 #StoriesMatter initiative, where we've been examining the impact and power of storytelling within human society, The Last God offers a stellar example of how a genre like high fantasy can be used to explore racism, classism, failures of leadership, the perils of hero worship, and more. As just one example, this issue's depiction of our classically muscle-bound hero, Tyr, and his drunken promises to "set this world to rights" once the fellowship defeats the last god and become kings and queens clearly shows the complexity often present in those who find themselves in places of power and have a desire to solve injustices, but don't fully understand what is required to truly do so. Tyr is a perfect demonstration of entitlement (and white privilege) as he casually offers to end Aelvan slavery in the realm because Veikko, his Aelvan companion, has proven herself, and her race, to him. Tyr believes he can end the issue, and ingrained pain, of Aelvan slavery with a wave of his hand. Veikko takes the promise with a grain of salt (much more aware of what it would take to truly deconstruct the racism present enough for the two races to be "at peace”… and probably also much more aware of the true weight of drunken men’s promises) and reacts with justified anger when Tyr follows this "gift" to her by trying to engage with her sexually. I won’t spoil anything further, but to say that Veikko has little patience for Tyr’s boorishness.
As I mentioned in my review of issue #1, Johnson himself has stated that Federici's contributions are better than the comic medium deserves, and that statement continues to stand the test of time. With a vibe between Frank Frazetta and the amazing painted covers seen on classic Dungeons & Dragons manuals and guides, Federici's work is nothing short of gorgeous and awe-inducing. The settings are atmospheric and imaginative, drawing the reader into the the realm of Cain Anuun, the depictions of magic and supernatural powers feel out of this world, yet grounded in a gritty reality, and the characters seem to come alive on the pages in front of your eyes. A big acknowledgment must also be made to Arif Prianto, Allen Passalaqua, and Sunny Gho for the absolutely superb coloring of this book (maybe some of the best in the industry) and Tom Napolitano for a lettering job that enhances the title in notable ways. Both of these components really make the book sing!
FINAL VERDICT: The Last God is written beautifully, features artwork that will take your breath away, and is completely different from anything else on the shelves at your local comic book shop. If you're looking for impactful and resonant storytelling, complex and layered characters, and high-fantasy battles with flower zombies, don't hesitate to add this title to you pull list!
Creative Team: Phillip Kennedy Johnson (writer/creator), Riccardo Federici (art), Arif Prianto, Allen Passalaqua & Sunny Gho (colors), Jared Blando (cartography), Tom Napolitano (letters), Steve Wands & Amedeo Turturro (back matter design), Kai Carpenter (cover art)
Publisher: DC Comics - Black Label
The Last God #7 is currently available for purchase here or at your local comic book shop.
Also, be sure to check out my review of the first issue of The Last God and my Fanbase Feature interview with writer/creator Phillip Kennedy Johnson:
'The Last God #1:' Comic Book Review ( A Fellowship of Thrones)
Fanbase Feature: An Interview with Phillip Kennedy Johnson on DC Black Label's 'The Last God'