Last Man: The Stranger by Balak, Michaël Sanlaville and Bastien Vivès, 207 pp, RL 4

The Last Man trilogy is the creation of a trilogy of men well known for their work in their home country of France. Balak, a star from the world of French animation, Michaël Sanlavalle, a star from the world of French video gaming and Bastien Vivès, a star from the world of French comics joined forces to create this fast paced graphic novel that feels familiar and new at the same time.

The Last Man trilogy begins with The Stranger.  The world of The Last Man has a medieval European feel to it with Asian influences. The story opens on students in a dojo-like school practicing battle techniques in preparation for the annual gladiatorial contest, the Games. The hero - or one of the heroes - of The Last Man is twelve-year-old Adrian Velba, small for his age, loved and protected by his single mother who works long hours in a bakery to put meager amounts of food on their table. Also, Adrian's mother is a Bridget Bardot, grade A knockout. When Adrian's battle partner falls ill, he is saddened, but not for long. The mysterious Richard Aldana arrives and enters the competition, disdainful of the magic (think Avatar the Last Airbender magical battles) used by the fighters and  disregards the rules. Marianne Velba reluctantly agrees to let Adrian partner with Aldana and the story takes off from there.  While there are many elements of The Last Man: The Stranger that feel familiar, there is a maturity to the story and the illustrations that I have not encountered yet. I am excited to read the rest of the series and think about the differences between a French born graphic novel and an American one...

The Last Man: The Stranger ends with a brutal (for the reader, and possibly for Adrian) cliffhanger. Happily, the next volume, The Royal Cup, comes out in June of this year!

More images from The Last Man: The Stranger:

 Balak, Bastien Vivès, and Michaël Sanlavalle 

Source: Review Copy

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