The Last Battle
Originally printed in 2005 as L’Ultima Battaglia by The Walt Disney Company Italia, The Last Battle by Tito Faraci and Dan Brereton is an English translation published by Image Comics.
In 52 BCE, General Caius Rodius, retired hero of Caesar’s Legions, is called back to war. In nearby Gaul, Rome’s combined armies lay siege to the Gallic stronghold of Alesia in a conflict fated to shape history. A third barbarian horde prepares to attack the Romans from without, led by the rebel Cammius, who once fought for Rome. Rising star Julius Caesar dispatches Rodius to track through the wilderness and bring back the rebel’s head. Who better to hunt Cammius than the man who taught him the very skills he now uses to defy Rome? Rodius must choose between duty to Rome and Caesar or the barbarian he raised as his own son.
This is an action buddy story with many cinematic techniques; it feels like a movie in its choices of plot, characters and development. It’s up to you whether that’s good or bad.
A soldier is pulled in from retirement for one last job. To get things done he reunites with his old crew and takes on an impossible task that will most definitely get a lot of them killed, all the while trying to not get screwed by the people they’re working for. Yep, that’s a whole lot of “I’ve seen that before”, but it makes good reading because the formula works. Add in foreshadowing scenes, the “twist” of enemy-as-old-friends, the double cross and doing the right thing in the end. Check out the gladiator games occurring while Rodius is being attacked, switching between both scenes in case we couldn’t understand the “battle to the death” assault on our hero.
Art is classic Dan Brereton: painted pages with unique yet familiar to all work faces. Have a good look at the pages and decide whether you love it or hate it. I fall into the love it camp so it was a joy to experience another Brereton work. Nice panel layout, detailed backgrounds and period immersion.
The Last Battle works nicely but would have greatly benefited from a larger format treatment. Since the story was written so cinematically larger pages, like most European works, would have conveyed that sense of spectacle. As it is we’re getting 80 pages of story and extras, including character designs with notes from Faraci and Brereton, for $8.
Originally published at Comic Book Daily.