Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Lisandro Estherren, Niko Guardia (Colours)
Release Date: 10th February 2016
Hitman stories in comics and film rank among some of my all-time favourites, so Ed Brisson’s tale of an ageing, but still entirely capable assassin coming out of retirement was always going to be a must-read. In the first issue, our as yet unnamed protagonist was the target of a botched assassination attempt, and is now attempting to piece together the who and why. This second issue expands on his backstory, and sinks multiple story hooks regarding his links to the man accountable for the failed hit, and his responsibility to the son of one of his past victims.
Ed Brisson is performing an admirable juggling act here, with a conflict between our hero and Burrell’s crime clan running parallel to the identity of the blackmailer, and the chequered past of our geriatric gunman and his associates adding some spice. Although the opposing sides have the same objective, Brisson has them approach it from different angles: Burrell taking out the hired assassins, and our ‘hero’ focussing on the victim’s families. The resultant overarching conflict is tense and intriguing, highlighting remorse and a desire to atone on one hand, and vicious, unadulterated self-preservation on the other.
While set in the present, the series has a gritty, neo-noir vibe to it that’s instantly appealing, bringing to mind the dark urban crime stories of the ‘70s, like Serpico, Mean Streets, and Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Brisson’s script crackles with an energy and tension that brings a nice ebb and flow to the dialogue. Instantly quotable turns of phrase and esoteric gangster lingo accent the language to give it an authentic flavour.
Brisson’s expertly placed beats create a suitably taut pace, and each one is aptly framed for maximum dramatic, emotional, or comedic effect by Lisandro Estherren, whose loose, imprecise linework fits the story beautifully. The figures who populate this world are far from model citizens, they’re rough round the edges, experience worn into their rutted, weathered faces, and his tough-as-a-coffin-nail character design reinforces this idea. His storytelling has a filmic sensibility to it, too, his use of character’s POV’s fully immersing you in the action. Niko Guardia’s colours round things off, his bluish brown hues match the tone perfectly, and greatly enhance the seedily realistic urban vibe.
Overall, The Last Contract is a fine example of contemporary noir, and is well on the way to becoming a classic. Do not let this one slip under your radar.
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If you want to find our more about The Last Contract, make sure to check out our interview with Ed Brisson and Lisandro Estherren by CLICKING HERE.
The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
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