Since time immemorial, there have been fantasy creatures taking up residence in many of our stories, from Grimm fairy tales to J.R.R. Tolkien. Pixies and goblins, dragons and unicorns have always been popular, but what place do they have in the modern world? Well, Paul Allor and Louie Joyce try to give us an idea in Past the Last Mountain, which sees 3 such creatures escape human captivity, but will their ongoing escape be a runaway success?
Publisher: Comics Experience
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Louie Joyce (art and colors), Gannon Beck (layouts)
Price: £2.49 from ComiXology
Our rating: [star rating=”4.5″]
Set in a world where the magical creatures of fantasy stories are real, Past the Last Mountain #1 begins the story of Simon, Kate and Willa (a goblin, faun and dragon respectively) who escape an internment preserve in which magical creatures have been held since losing a war with humans. However, upon breaching the wars of their prison, the three find the hard part is just beginning as the new head of the preserve sets out to track them down and re-catch them – a plan he will pull out all the stops to achieve. Can the trio escape to the mythical Dragon Lake, a nirvana for their kind, or will the humans find them first?
Past the Last Mountain’s first issue is a truly fantastic comic, both in its concept (as a mix of Hellboy and the Fugitive), but also in its execution. Writer Paul Allor (Tet, Strange Nation) has created a fully formed and truly interesting idea here, that showcases a different side of the standard ‘man versus creature’ trope, filled with incredibly well-defined characters. These protagonists are what make the book truly engrossing, as both humans and escapees give off the sense of having very legitimate motivations, with none of them reading like traditional mustache twirling villains.
Besides the main players, this book has a nicely paced plot and is well written, with a nice surprising ending which draws you into the action right from the start. (Including a final reveal that is gorgeous and sets up a serious question for the following issues.)
Meanwhile, Louie Joyce and Gannon Beck provide equally captivating artwork, as the rough pencils and very muted, natural colours give Past the Last Mountain a very children’s fairy tale kind of look, which is quite fitting given the content of the issue. However, this isn’t to say that the art is childish as all the creatures look so realistic, especially the scene of Simon on Kate’s back as she and Willa escape and this sense of realism is only exemplified by Joyce’s colours. The art in this issue is glorious from the get go, culminating in a truly gorgeous final reveal which plays the surprise end to full effect.
Past The Last Mountain is tremendously written, incredibly rendered onto the page, and a fantastic start to what is sure to be a beautifully compelling series. This comic is one where every page feels like a joy to read and with it’s final page setting up serious questions for the next issue, read this and you will not want to escape this title.