EXCL. PREVIEW: "Avatar: Smoke & Shadow" TPB Threatens the Fire Nation
All this month I’ll be reviewing different comic books by female creators, based on submissions from the actual creators of the comic books themselves. Here‘s a list of all the books featured so far this month.
We continue with the first volume of The Endling, drawn by Cecilia Latella, written by Jonathan Larsen and colored by Paul Mounts.
The Endling opens billions of years in the future where perhaps the final pregnancy in the history of the planet occurs.
It does not go well.
Then the first twist. This is NOT the future! It is a simulation on a computer in the present day, with a teenage girl watching it all go down…
Amber is a brilliant young woman who is trying to get a recommendation from a prestigious college professor to help her get into a good school. However, her obsession with the simulation of what the world will look like after a billion years of evolution is getting her into trouble. Especially, you know, when the world’s last baby, well, talks to her…
You ever see that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the Professor Moriarity in the holodeck simulation comes to life? That’s a lot of what The Endling is like. This simulated final being on Earth (hence forth referred to as The Endling, natch) has evolved SO much that he can do all sorts of crazy stuff with his body. But his mind is also so developed that he knows he is in a simulation but he also knows of a way that he can become a “real boy,” Pinocchio-style. And it requires Amber’s help.
Here’s the thing, just like Moriarity, the Endling is a manipulative, evil little dude. Amber doesn’t realize that she is getting played BIG TIME, as the Endling takes advantage of all of her various insecurities. It’s really messed up. Meanwhile, the people who created the simulation are trying like crazy to use the simulation to kill the Endling before he can find a way out of it. It’s all a rather tense game of cat and mouse with poor Amber stuck in the middle of it, slowly but surely realizing how screwed she is.
Latella nails Amber’s personality so well. I think her depiction of Amber really sells the book the best. Latella makes Amber feel like a real person. Meanwhile, Latella also does a great job depicting all the crazy evolutionary enhancements that the Endling has, like the ability to cut off his own toe and control it to kill people. It’s sick but also awesome (and also based, kind of, on the properties of a real life animal).
That’s where Larsen really shines in the book as he comes up with some insane but based in real life evolutionary characteristics for the Endling. Plus, I just like how Larsen slowly drags us to the end. We’re forced to watch as people get tricked into doing the Endling’s bidding as the Endling just manipulates everyone. And you hope after hope that they can stop him while you know that they cannot. It leads to a great ending for Volume 1 and a nice set-up for Volume 2. Volume 1 is 20 issues long.
You can read the whole thing at Thrillbent here (it is one of those comics that are designed so as to be read on the computer, with panels and dialogue appearing as needed. It’s done really well (although I personally had problems with the reveals on the very last pages of issues, as the reveal would disappear too quickly as the next issue popped up).
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