Two weeks of barbarian comics? Why not, especially when they are both this good.
Last week I reviewed the excellent ongoing series Barbaric: Hell to Pay, and this week I’m back with the latest from author and artist Brian Haberlin, The Last Barbarians.
No relation to each other, except that they both have excellent art, characters, and storytelling. Oh yeah, and they both have awesome female leads!
As I said last week, I love me a good female barbarian. Maybe it’s all the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman and Red Sonja comics I grew up on (or too many Liberty Meadows comics from Frank Cho), but there’s something about a strong, forceful female figure that is not just there to be rescued that always gets me hyped
Heck, I think I was one of the only people who did not lose their minds about Teela being the actual lead in the new He-Man animated series from Kevin Smith. I love it when we get to see things through a new lenses like that, and don’t understand why people just want more of exactly the same same thing they already have.
But I digress.
I’ve been a big fan of Brian Haberlin for a while, with both his fantastic fantasy series The Marked and his brilliant sci-fi retelling of Jules Verne’s Lighthouse topping favourite comics lists of mine, so to see him back once again with a new, original story? Well, I knew what I’d be writing about this week.
So let’s check out The Last Barbarians together and see why a new book from Haberlin is always a must get on my list.
Here’s the blurb:
To be Classless is a whole new low…
You’d think in a fantastic world full of giants magic and flying fish it would be a world of possibility. But you’d be dead wrong here! Sylv is a jack of all trades; she can fight with the best of them pick most pockets and even cast a third-level spell or two. It’s too bad for her that if you aren’t a member of a guild you are persona non grata: completely outcast from adventuring. That might be fine except she has her disabled seven-foot-tall brother to take care of. If she can’t find a job to support them both they’ll be dead in a ditch in a matter of weeks. So now her only hope is a quest from a sketchy cleric who promises only a true hero can save the day. Sylv has a lot of skills…and she’ll need them all to survive this hero’s journey!
One of the reasons I tend to enjoy female leads more than male leads these days is that, on the whole, female leads are allowed to be much more fully fleshed out characters than their male counterparts. Female barbarians have to be tough as nails, but they are also allowed to express much more empathy and pathos, and have to show much more cleverness and wit than their male counterparts are usually given.
And it’s no surprise that Brian Haberlin excels at this, with a solid history of female characters like fan favourite Witchblade to his name. Haberlin’s women exude confidence, leadership, empathy, and grace, all while also being vulnerable in compelling and unique ways.
Sylv, the hero of The Last Barbarians, is all of these things and more. On the surface, there’s a lot to remind you of other characters, such as the previously mentioned Red Sonja, while at the same time she has a toughness to her that isn’t so much born from her actual abilities, as much as it is from her desperation to protect her brother and rediscover her own past. She’s a character that on some level you know would probably be more successful on her own, but at the same time would be noticeably diminished without her role as protector to her brother.
It’s a fun twist on the classic Of Mice and Men dynamic, and really adds a great extra level of depth to show this isn’t just another D&D style quest rip-off.
And, of course, let’s not forget the art of The Last Barbarians. Brian Haberlin has a unique art style that definitely helps set his work apart. He has a bold, ink heavy style that somehow manages to be both clean and dirty at the same time, and in the best of possible ways. If you’ve never flipped through one his books it’s worth it for the art alone.
Not to mention his gorgeous covers that would make Robert E. Howard weep with joy.
Well written and beautifully illustrated, this first issue of The Last Barbarians is a great start to what I hope will be a long series of fantastic adventures in this new world. Brian Haberlin has not let me down so far, and The Last Barbarians feel like it will definitely be another great ride.
That’s it for me. C2E2 is right around the corner folks. I can’t wait to go again this year and cover all the fun.
Until next time, Stay Safe.