REVIEW: ‘The Last Siege,’ Trade Paperback

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Last Siege

I’ve never actually seen a castle in real life but in the books I read, castles showed up all the time. They were the homes of brave knights and fair princesses, impregnable strongholds that could hold off dragons. I didn’t realize it then, but castles have their dark sides as well. Castle Walls can keep an army at bay. But when the enemy is at the gate, those same walls become a prison. This is exactly what happens in The Last Siege from Image Comics, written by Landry Q Walker,  with art by Justin Greenwood, lettering by Patrick Brosseau, and colors by Eric Jones and Brad Simpson. After years of bloody conflict, a new king reigns over the western lands. As warlord from across the sea, this new king has crushed all opposition under the weight of his army.

Only one castle remains unconquered, the keep of Lord Aedon. But with the lord dead and their defenses depleted, the keepers of the castle have lost all hope. This changes when a lone stranger from the east wanders into town carrying little more than a Katana and a sealed letter from the late Lord Aedon. With his brutal fighting skills and tactical genius, this castle just might survive the last siege of the war.

The Last Siege cuts with a brutal edge. There’s rawness to its story that plants the book in a world readers can recognize. It’s not that the comic is realistic.  After all, our main character wields a Japanese long sword on the decidedly English battlegrounds. Historically accurate it is not. However, that doesn’t really matter since samurai swords make everything better.

What really grounds The Last Siege and sets it apart from other medieval stories is its utter lack of romance. It has all the trappings of a medieval fantasy, but its world is ugly.  Royal advisors treat princesses worse than cattle. They see them as child brides that can be pawned off for security. And Knights? Knights are just killers with a bit of talent.

It’s a grim world, but it matches the book’s feudal atmosphere. In that sense, The Last Siege has more in common with the amoral spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone than any take on King Arthur. Our man with no name carries a katana instead of a six shooter, but otherwise, The Stranger would be right at home in any number of westerns. This genre blend mostly works, but at times I felt like the books stuck too closely to the western formula. Mashups can be unpredictable and wild, but The Last Siege is happy to play the standards.

But just because there’s no romance doesn’t mean The Last Siege lacks in drama. Every one of its fight sequences is jam packed with visceral energy. You can feel the impact of every blow. Greenwood’s panel work carries us through sweeping vistas of carnage, each panel building in momentum as warrior clash and blood spills. Some of these battles go down in complete silence without a dialogue bubble in sight. It’s a simple method for building tension, but Greenwood and Walker execute it well.

The Last Siege tells a familiar tale, and tells it well. With Western attitude and Medieval brutality, this comic is definitely worth your time.

The Last Siege is available in comic book stores everywhere now.

The Last Siege TPB
4

TL;DR

The Last Siege tells a familiar tale, and tells it well. With Western attitude and Medieval brutality, this comic is definitely worth your time.