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Last Sons
Alan Grant
Warner Books, 336 pages

Last Sons
Alan Grant
Alan Grant was born in Bristol, Englad in 1949. After finishing school, he edited wildlife, romance, and fashion magazines before becoming a freelance writer. With long-time writing partner John Wagner, he scripted Judge Dredd and a dozen other science fiction series for the British comic book publisher 2000 AD. Since 1987 he has written over 200 Batman stories for DC Comics. He is the author of The Stone King, a Justice League novel published by Pocket Books. Alan works in a Gothic mansion in the Scottish border country with his wife.

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A review by Nathan Brazil

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'The Alpha was an artificial intelligence.
A Martian. A Czarnian. A Kryptonian. An Auriun.
We will retain a single specimen from every species.
Their DNA will be analysed, replicated, and stored in our valuts.
Their emotional energies will be used as weaponry.
The Universe will be ours.'
I grew up reading comics, both American and British, and retain my fascination with the best examples of the genre. Over the years, comic books have introduced some sharp writers, gifted with the ability to entertain, inform, shock and sometimes surprise. Novelisations of comic book characters can work well, allowing authors to use the unlimited pallet of readers imagination, rather than the interpretations of a single artist. Because there's so much more space, characters can be written with a depth that is often missing on the standard comic book page. Even more so, when the writer is fortunate enough to be working with characters that are iconic, well established figures such as the Martian Manhunter and Superman. Alan Grant, author of Last Sons, has written over 200 Batman stories for DC, and apparently lives in a Gothic mansion in the Scottish border country, all of which sounds like a fine pedigree. Unfortunately, though, Last Sons is a Bernard Matthews special, in other words, it's a turkey.

The premise features a Living Monolith character, uninspiringly called the Alpha, who intends to destroy all inferior life forms in the universe, just as soon as it has collected the last sons of those races that have already perished. The purpose of this collection, and I'm not kidding here, is to drain their emotional energies to use as a weapon. Thus do we find J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter and last son of the red planet, teamed with Superman, the last son of Krypton, and the cosmic bounty hunter Lobo, who is the last son of Czarnia. This trio are soon embroiled in a plot so poor, it makes the average episode of The Muppet Show seem like Shakespeare. The Alpha uses the ploy of having galactic authorities issue a false arrest warrant for the Martian Manhunter, and hires Lobo to go fetch him. Naturally, J'onn J'onzz realises it must be a horrible mistake, and lets himself be taken into Lobo's custody. The pair then travel to the Vrk Imperium, which is where the warrant originated. Unhappy with the situation, Superman tags along, clandestinely observing and eventually deciding that he should help his old colleague out of a tight spot. But, the Alpha has planned for this, and in two shakes of a cat's tail, all three of the Last Sons are held in cells which exploit their unique weaknesses, and at the same time, drain their emotional energies. As might be expected, the trio break free, and set to work putting things right.

A large part of the problem here is choosing a third rate character as the lead. For those who may be unfamiliar with him, Lobo is like a DNA splice of the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin, a lobotomized space biker, and the early Wolverine. That is to say, Wolverine before depth and maturity were used to shape him into the figure we know today. So what we get are sequences of idiotic juvenile posturing, gratuitous swearing, and pointless violence from the self-styled "Main Man." While Superman and the Martian Manhunter get to play naff supporting roles, alongside Xemtex, a former villain, whose brain Lobo has imprisoned as the onboard AI of his Spazz-Frag 3000 space bike. Honestly, I'm not making this up, it's that bad. Xemtex, Darlene the space-waitress, and Tartan Quarantino's bounty hunting agency are all sub-plots which crash in and out of the main theme, as if the author was tired as a pack of geriatric hounds, and really couldn't be bothered using his imagination. Even allowing for the handicap of Lobo as the lead character, Last Sons came out as an ill conceived excuse to exploit famous names, and an opportunity missed by a country mile.

Copyright © 2006 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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