A sci-fi war is waging between two neighboring worlds and it's allegedly over precious resources. A battle-hardened hero has lost the people closest to him and now he has nothing left to lose. The hero's government has a strong focus on religious beliefs. These are all ingredients you've seen plenty of times before in other stories, right? While TMNT writer Tom Waltz's opening chapter may not hit us with anything drastically new, it makes up for that by being legitimately well-crafted and putting an interesting character front and center.
Because our hero, Marcus Fall, fits a mold we've seen countless times before, there's a moment or two where it feels like he's being pushed a little too hard to look like the ultimate badass. However, that's completely countered by how writer Waltz and artist Casey Maloney handle the character overall. Fall's not cool and calculated as he rushes into battle like the countless other skilled soldiers we've seen in comics. When he's in a firefight, it's completely clear he realizes it could all end at any moment and a look of intensity, rage, and anxiety is always present on his face. Sure, he goes above and beyond in the skirmish in order to enthrall the readers, but this doesn't feel like just another "cool soldier."
His personality is handled tactfully and, even though he doesn't have that much dialogue, we're able to get a more than proper insight into who this character is and why he acts the way he does. To top it off, the final page really hits you with the emotion he's experiencing. It's a big and beautiful universe out there, but without the people you truly care about, you're left feeling empty and alone. This splash page captures that very well and leaves me caring just a little more about our protagonist. There are so many heavy-handed ways this sense of loss and loneliness could have been handled, but this approach is the perfect way to leave us. The chapter is full of violent emotions and aggressiveness, so to conclude on a note like this was very effective and a nice touch.
On top of doing a great job hitting us with Fall's state of mind, Maloney and colorist Dusty Yee do a fine job presenting just how different these two worlds are. Krovin comes off as every bit as dry and barren as it sounds in the intro page and that's reflected in how its forces and structures appear -- there's a heavy emphasis on shades of grey and orange. Meanwhile, those from Merkonia are sporting big and vibrant armors, so this serves as a nice contrast between the two societies. The visuals really shine when Fall rushes into action. As stated above, his expression gives us a solid look into what's going on in his head, but watching the energy blasts soar through the air is good fun and there's a great panel that illustrates just how fluid and deadly Fall can be.
As much as I enjoyed the visuals, the work on Fall's face leaves me with mixed thoughts on his age. They do a brilliant job with his expressions, but he seems a little too young in some cases. Also, Waltz did superb work putting his lead in the spotlight, but aside from the main character, nothing about this new stage has really reeled me in all that much. Many of the aspects of these new worlds and societies feel very familiar, so I'm really hoping these are given more focus as we move forward. There's a cool page showing the design of many characters in the back of the book, but when the next issue comes around, you'll probably only remember Fall's name. We now have a great handle on Fall, so hopefully everything else will receive more of the spotlight in the next chapter.
THE LAST FALL #1 is a pretty exciting read that offers an engaging insight into its tragic lead. The universe may not be nearly as fleshed out as its main character, but the potential is certainly there and I'm hoping the plot begins to take more elaborate and interesting steps in the next chapter. Still, this debut issue succeeded in making me interested in Marcus Fall and I absolutely want to see where his journey takes him next. If you're a sucker for sci-fi wars, I'd recommend giving THE LAST FALL a chance. The overall narrative may not blow you away, but the action is a blast and odds are you'll establish a connection to the hero.