Read This Book- ‘The Last Barbarians: Volume 1’

As I have said numerous times before, I love me a good sword and sandals story. Conan the Barbarian, John Carter, heck, I even rewatch the Beastmaster. It’s a fun genre that blends my love of fantasy with my love of ancient history, and sadly, while it is essentially the root of a lot of gameplay for both video and board games, we don’t see it much in comics.

Oh sure, Conan has been published pretty consistently for a while, but they always seem a little afraid to fully commit to the bit with him. And while Dynamite has a long running Red Sonja series that has had some pretty epic runs done on it, it frequently feels like that series is surviving more on variant covers than on storytelling.

So when I saw that Brian Haberlin, author of The Marked, one of my all time favourite urban fantasy series, was working on a new sword and sandals fantasy mini series, I was 100% on board. In a previous article I gave the first issue a glowing review, and now that the entire 5 issue run has been released in a single trade, it’s time to revisit this work and encourage those of you who slept on it to pick it up!

So let’s crack into this volume, and explain not only why it is great, but why we need more comics like this in our lives.

Here’s the blurb: In a world where your guild means everything, classless Sylv is labeled a Barbarian. She’s a jack of all trades who can fight, pick most pockets, and cast a spell or two. But without official membership to a guild, she’s barred from having adventures. No adventures means no money, and no money makes it awfully hard to support herself and her 7-foot tall disabled brother. But when an underhanded cleric says he’s got the quest of a lifetime for her, she can’t really say no (even if she knows she should). It’ll take every skill she’s got to stay alive, save a child, prevent the fabric of the universe from being ripped apart, and prove that being multiskilled isn’t totally barbaric.

There is so much to love in The Last Barbarians. Right off the bat the characters are interesting and unique, while at the same time familiar to anyone who has ever played a character driven board game or fantasy video game. Our lead, Sylv, is beautiful competent, and honestly worth the price of admission alone. Haberlin has a real knack for writing interesting and capable female characters, avoiding the damsel in distress archetypes that so often hampers other authors in this genre.

In fact, there is a whole cast of interesting female characters, yet other than a bit of skin on some of the covers, at no point does the book devolve into fanservice cheesecake (not that there is anything wrong with that, but when every issue of a book seems more interested in undressing the main character, well, you don’t really have a book at that point, do you?)

Not to mention that the art in The Last Barbarians is just as fantastic as the storytelling. This is a rich and lived in world that blends the everyday with the extraordinary in a way that few other series manage to do. There were times when reading it that I would just flip through the whole book, looking at the art and completely ignoring the story. It’s such a beautiful, ugly, dirty, and fantastic vision of a fantasy realm that it kind of takes your breath away.

If you slept on The Last Barbarians the first go around, you really missed out. Don’t make that mistake twice! Grab the collection this week from your LCS and let me know what you think about it!

Until next time, Stay Safe.

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