Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review - Last Sons of America #1 (@BoomStudios)


"Children are our most valuable natural resource."

The importance of children really can't be understated. Their success as youths directly impacts the direction of the world's future--whether they want it to be that way or not. When faced with a crisis event that forces the hand of society even more so though, some will get a little more "creative" about setting up children to take over the world effectively. Last Sons of America #1 from BOOM! Studios tells that story. The issue is written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith, colored by Doug Garbark and lettered by Jim Campbell.

When a biological terrorist attack makes it impossible for anyone in America to conceive children, adoption of kids from other countries explodes. Brothers Jackie and Julian are adoption agents based in Nicaragua. They usually do all their options through legal means, but they’re facing increasing competition from straight-up kidnappers. One desperate move from Jackie could put them in the cross-hairs of some very dangerous people.

The premise behind Last Sons of America #1 is fascinating and works on a lot of levels. Johnson is focusing on the broader topic of human trafficking, looking at it through a prism of way of life as opposed to underground crime ring. In his story, children are sold to parents through something of a modified adoption system, in that those children are given up by their parents for a price and the possibility that their child will have a better future. There's still an element of despicableness to the process, but Johnson defends the actions in Last Sons of America #1 by presenting it as a necessity in the world for it continue. And it's pretty clear by the end of the issue that Johnson wants the story to have a twist to it in the form of the main characters possibly getting in over their heads.

There's a gritty pall cast over the book by Smith and Garbark that underscore the somewhat underhanded nature of the business being described. Smith's characters stand in sharp contrast to the backgrounds, accentuated by thick, bold outlines. There's an emphasis on facial expressions peppered throughout the issue that reinforce the prevailing emotion in a society beset by a plague that prevents pregnancies. The clean, gridlike panel layout offers a pretty orderly approach to the presumably chaotic society as well. Garbark's colors are largely darker, but some panels are filled with solid colors that emboldens the action even further.

Last Sons of America #1 is an interesting take on a current problem. It doesn't go so far as defend the practice of human trafficking, but it at least justifies it to some extent within the context of the new society created in the aftermath of a plague. Johnson's script is methodical and builds to a somewhat surprising crescendo that sets the tone for the remainder of the series. Smith's illustrations are powerful and grimy, presenting a sullied look at an even further sullied world. Last Sons of America #1 investigates a dark side of humanity in a way that feels unique and will make for intriguing reading.

Last Sons of America #1 is in stores now.








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