Image’s Samurai-Fantasy Spaghetti Western Collected: The Last Siege TPB

by Brendan M. Allen

One castle stands alone against the might of a brutal warlord. For those caught within, it is not a question of survival, but rather hope for a good death. Game of Thrones warfare meets Spaghetti Western storytelling in this epic medieval saga from New York Times bestselling writer Landry Q. Walker and critically acclaimed artist Justin Greenwood!

In the wake of a long and costly war, the Usurper is divvying up the spoils among his loyal lords and knights. One of the remaining castles has apparently been assigned to this “Feist” fellow. Feist is cruel and hard, and the way he’ll be assuming control is by marrying an underage girl who is the last of her bloodline and the heiress to the castle. Everything’s moving along smoothly, until a stranger from the East pops in and everything goes sideways.

Once Feist is dispatched, clapped in irons and sent packing, the castle residents begin to realize they have bigger fish to fry. Dispatching the sadistic knight is only the beginning. Evicting the Usurper King’s men invites retaliation, and there are hardly enough men to weather a full attack from the despot’s forces. The castle’s “liberator” may have just cost everyone within the curtain wall their lives, unless this stranger just happens to be a brilliant military strategist.

The story itself is pretty standard fare for all three of the genres Landry Q. Walker calls on here, at least the three I recognized. There are elements of Spaghetti Western and fantasy, for sure, but I also picked up some samurai themes and imagery. Those are katana, yeah? Mysterious stranger walks into town, stirs some crap up, big fight scene, cowboy cliffhangers between chapters… There’s definitely a Fistful of Dollars element woven throughout this book. Or is it Yojimbo? Maybe that’s why the katana? Slick nod to Kurosawa?

There are several places where Walker backs way off the exposition and allows the art team of Justin Greenwood, Eric Jones (chapters 1-4), and Brad Simpson (chapters 5-8) carry the story. The first five pages are completely wordless, allowing Greenwood and Jones to set the tone for the rest of the book. Greenwood’s gritty, heavily textured linework plays well with Jones’ miserable, muted palette to create an aesthetic of absolute, hopeless despair. The action scenes that follow have a very cinematic feel with quick, dirty linework, inventive angles, and a fire-lit palette.

There are stories that play better as trade paperbacks than single issues. This one actually paces better as individual chapters. The cowboy cliffhangers at the end of each chapter call back to black and white serials. Putting the back up stories between the chapters in this collected edition helps, putting a hard stop between installments before moving into the next chapter.

If you’re into period epics, spaghetti westerns, samurai serials, or are just looking for a piece of slobberknocker action, you’ll find what you’re looking for in The Last Siege.

The Last Siege TPB, Image Comics, collects the complete limited series, chapters 1-8, releases 06 March 2019. Written by Landry Q. Walker, art by Justin Greenwood, color by Eric Jones (chapters 1-4) and Brad Simpson (chapters 5-8), letters by Patrick Brosseau.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he mostly tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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