Zeb Larson reviews The Last Fall #2…
IDW’s original sci-fi/military drama continues! Know your enemy! A top-secret recovery mission explodes into deadly betrayal and Marcus Fall finds himself battling for his life against a most unexpected foe.
Why is it that a sci-fi comic with little relation to our own world can feel so painfully real? I think that it’s because certain truths resonate regardless of setting, and the pain and sorrow of war is one of those. Last Fall was a book that really surprised me by how much it drew me into the main character’s pathos after just one issue, and issue two is a solid follow-up to what was done before.
The comic opens with the events that led to the deaths of Sergeant Fall’s family on Merkonia. Back on Krovin, he wakes up to see Roland the priest giving a stirring sermon to the men. Fall rejects this message about salvation, mentally noting that the only words of the sermon he hears are all about death. Roland learns of a wounded enemy leader being cared for in a neutral town, and he sends Fall, his commanding officer Sintar, and one other soldier to retrieve him. The mission goes off without a hitch and the leader is retrieved, but an unarmed woman walks in on them. Fall is ordered to kill her so that there are no witnesses, but after recalling a conversation with his wife about women and children, cannot bring himself to do it. This sets in motion a catastrophe, and Fall is the chief victim.
Perhaps what’s so striking about this comic is that it’s a war comic that is basically an anti-war story. Everything about the war suggests that it’s a totally futile exercise, being conducted against the backdrop of everyone’s destruction from the out of control sun. Religion is a cynical cover for the state to push Merkonians to kill Krovinites. Fall is a broken man who only derives purpose from fighting and killing, but even he seems to see through the hollowness of the rationalizations for war. What’s left if you reject everything? Just a person going through the motions, a hollow man. Except that Fall actually has a conscience, and when he is pushed beyond his limits, he pushes right back. War’s ugly futility is on display here, and I’d be surprised if Waltz doesn’t mean for that message to resonate outside of this comic.
There are some moments in this comic where the faces look a bit odd and the facial expressions are a little too exaggerated, but for the most part I really like what Maloney is doing here with the art. Fall’s character design really strikes a chord because he is so young-looking and baby-faced, an appearance which clashes with his damaged persona and talent for killing. This applies to the other soldiers as well, all of whom look like ordinary men. This comic is spitting in the face of all of the Gears of War, roided-up character design that bears no resemblance to reality.
I’m curious to see how the repercussions of Fall’s actions will resonate in future issues. The ramifications will be considerable, but they’ll make for fantastic storytelling. It’s a shame this is going to wrap up in a few issues, because this story is off to a very good start.