Last Man: The Stranger by Bastien Vivès, Balak, and Michaël Sanlaville
Review by Lauren
Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: The Games are already underway when Richard Aldana arrives in town. This mysterious stranger seems to have more in common with our world than the world where the Games are held. He smokes cigarettes and wears a leather jacket while everyone else in this medieval realm is casting spells and weaving tapestries. Nobody knows what to make of him, but when Aldana enrolls in the games he quickly becomes a top contender. Eschewing magic and using only his martial arts prowess, Aldana also befriends and protects a small boy for reasons as mysterious as his origins.
Who will win the games? Who is Richard Aldana, really? And what is the ultimate purpose of this gruelling gladiatorial contest?
Review: This book, and its soon to be released sequels, were originally published in France. Once they became popular, they were translated into English and are now being released here. When looking up the summary for this book, I saw people describe this as a manga (Japanese comic). I’ve only read one manga, so I’m no expert, but I was a bit surprised to read that. I figured I’d mention it for those interested though.
In general, this was a curious graphic novel. It focuses on 11-year old Adrian who is training to fight in a martial arts competition, except most people use powers like summoning wind instead of their fists. This is what makes Richard Aldana truly interesting to the people in this town. He comes from seemingly nowhere, partners up with Adrian, and begins to win battle after battle with his bodily strength alone. Adrian tries to help by always fighting first, but he never wins. If not for Aldana, he would have been eliminated from the game after the first fight. But this is a partner’s competition, and Aldana does do his best to help teach Adrian.
There isn’t a lot of backstory, and it’s something that keeps readers a little confused while reading. I assume most of this will be revealed later though, like the summary states. Why are these games happening? Who is Aldana really? I’m definitely curious to know more, though Last Man: The Stranger was definitely not my most favorite graphic novel. It’s interesting, nonetheless, and I love books from other countries.