Review – Last Driver (Dead Canary Comics)

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Click to enlarge

Publisher: Dead Canary Comics
Writer: C.S. Baker
Artist: Shaky Kane

“Woke up today with a big smile and morning wood that’d inspire a standing ovation.”

Meet Frank Sudden, your new favourite action hero and the star of Last Driver, the latest offering from those fine folks at Dead Canary Comics.  Fresh from a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, this gloriously over-the-top post-apocalyptic romp takes the form of a 60-page full-colour graphic novel where we get to watch Sudden run into all manner of mishaps, from giant monster attacks to forced gladiatorial combat.

Sudden reads like a glorious amalgam of Jack Burton, Mad Max and Kyle Starks’ Sexcastle, with writer C.S. Baker delivering some absolute gems of dialogue at a dizzying, machine-gun like pace.  From glib one-liners to over-the-top profanity, pretty much every page you turn will feature your new favourite Frank Sudden quote, and while any pretense of subtle character development or nuanced storytelling is cheerily discarded by about the third page, there’s just something truly compelling about Sudden’s antics and general attitude.

One thing I particularly love about the story is the fact that Baker makes almost zero attempt to explain the state of the world and why it inexplicably seems to have become populated by terrifying giant monsters.  In a picture perfect example of “knowing your audience”, Baker gleefully glosses over all that boring exposition stuff, instead focusing squarely on Sudden’s trials and tribulations in this post-apocalyptic wasteland as he tries to stay alive, keep his porn dry, and – most importantly – just keep driving.

Visually, you know exactly what you’re getting with Shaky Kane, and with all due respect to Baker’s dialogue and plotting, Kane’s strikingly stylised artwork is likely to be the main selling point of this graphic novel – and rightfully so.  Kane has made a career out of bold, colourful and decidedly unconventional artwork, and in Last Driver, he is given opportunity after opportunity to showcase the very best of his distinctive style.  Whether it’s Sudden doing battle with a giant bird-headed Tyrannosaurus or just hanging out at the side of the road barbecuing a really nice Pterodactyl burger, every page is an absolute treat here, with poster-worthy splash pages and bright, vibrant colours aplenty.

Okay, so full disclosure, Last Driver isn’t going to appeal to everyone.  Those looking for a more serious tone or more sophisticated storytelling are likely to go home disappointed, and Kane’s stylised, cartoony approach may not necessarily be to everyone’s tastes.  What I can say however is that it most definitely appeals to me, and the sheer wilful enthusiasm of the creators helps to cover up a multitude of sins when it comes to pacing, flow and the actual story itself.

Simply put, if you’re a fan of gloriously over-the-top action, hilariously macho dialogue or fantastic, eye-catching artwork, Last Driver is guaranteed to make you all warm and fuzzy in your unmentionable places.  Slick, polished and crackling with relentless enthusiasm, this is the cult favourite 80s action movie you never knew existed until right now, and I’m keeping everything crossed that we all get to read more of Frank Sudden’s exploits as soon as humanly possible.

PREVIEW ARTWORK – Courtesy of the Last Driver Kickstarter page

Make sure to follow Dead Canary Comics on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news on how to get your hands on a copy of Last Driver.

ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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You can follow Ceej on Twitter


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