Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review - Past the Last Moutain #1 (@ComicExperience)

"After all, if you don't eat your oatmeal the goblins will get you!"

Fantasy realms are thought to exist in scores of literature, movies, games, etc. As of now, that's the only place where you can explore those themes and be exposed to beings of non-human ilk. Past the Last Mountain #1 from Comics Experience looks to change that notion. The issue is written and lettered by Paul Allor and illustrated by Louie Joyce (layouts by Gannon Beck).

A troll, faun and dragon are on the run from the United States government in this geopolitical fantasy.

While the solicitation for Past the Last Moutain #1 reads like the start of a bad fantasy joke, Allor is aiming for more in the first issue. The plot unfolds in a way that moves from relative tedium to something more fantastical and it's clear pretty early on that the actual concept is brilliant. Allor is tapping into an innate curiosity in viewing things in captivity, only in Past the Last Moutain #1 those in captivity are fantasy beings. The parallels drawn between Allor's world and zoos/aquariums/etc. is strong and emphasizes the damage to the psyches of both the captors and the captives. The issue reads extraordinarily fast as well with Allor racing from the start and refusing to let the reader catch their breath.

The story itself is very intriguing, but Joyce's art is interesting in its own right. Joyce relies on a style that's somewhere between sketching and cel-shading characters who move like cardboard cut-outs against the backdrops. This style makes every page feel like a storyboard and gives the reader a bit more latitude in imagining what's happening--a fitting approach considering the content of the issue. And even though the book focuses on a troll, faun and dragon, Joyce gives each their own look that reinforces both their personalities and the preconceived notions about their mythology. The pastel colors add another level of fantasy to the story, making the characters stand out more against the expectations of reality.

Past the Last Mountain #1 is a really smart take on the notion of captivity. The mythical creatures on the run are seeking asylum from a government keeping them for whatever reason and it's clear that the series wants to delve at least a little bit into those reasons. Allor's script is very fast-moving and cleverly lays out the scenario for the reader. Joyce's artwork is ethereal in a way that underscores the fantasy aspect of the work. Past the Last Mountain #1 is an imaginative take on some pretty common ethical quandaries when it comes to keeping beings in captivity.

Past the Last Mountain #1 is available now via comiXology.


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