Brad Meltzer is a very polarizing writer when it comes to comics. Some absolutely love his work with their emotional centers and narration boxes, creating a match-on-word transition between scenes, while others loath him for the same reasons. I fall into the former category more than the latter (though I do feel that sometimes the match-on-words do get a little tiresome when overused). It’s always the interactions between characters that drive me to the store each week and in a way, Brad Meltzer’s comic work is tailor made for a readership exactly in tune with my tastes.
Then there is the obvious marketing tie between this one-shot and DC’s latest event book, Final Crisis. Though Last Will and Testament has no "Final Crisis” label on it’s cover, the book is meant to be a taste of what a super-hero in the DC Universe experiences on the calm night before the storm. And this is where Last Will and Testament might disappoint readers whether they are a fans of Meltzer’s work or not, at no fault of his own.
See, besides some lines about it being the “end of the world” or references to past crisis’, Last Will and Testament is really Meltzer picking up the threads he created in the pages of Justice League of America more than a year ago because no other writer carried them through. This is Geo-Force’s story wrapped up in the timeframe of Final Crisis. Here, let me explain with a rather awesome analogy; see Geo-Force’s confrontation with Deathstroke is the “hotdog” and everything else going on in the DCU makes up the “bun.” Now this specific outlook on the Geo-Force/Deathstroke dynamic couldn’t be told without the looming threat of Final Crisis, i.e. the hotdog needs the bun to be complete, but the hotdog is still the main draw of the meal. Get it?
Now if you can get over that little fact, there is something to enjoy with Last Will and Testament. Actually, in hind sight, the powers that be at DC probably didn’t stamp a “Final Crisis” trade dress on the issue for the simple fact it actually isn’t a direct tie-in. So that makes complaining about its lack of consistency with the happenings of the actual event a pretty mute argument.
So after talking about Brad Meltzer as a writer, and the merits of the Final Crisis-ness of Last Will and Testament, the true question is: does it deliver a good story? To this I say, "Yes.” Geo-Force has had a rather rough ride recently and it’s pretty much enhanced ten-fold by the conclusion of this issue. Yes, he does confront Deathstroke and gets his “revenge” but at a severe cost to his own well being and sanity. It’s just a shame Meltzer is disappearing into the shadows of comic writing to pursue his next novel because I can’t see any writer, a) tackling this plot development for the character and, b) pulling it off with such grace and poetic resonance.
Then there’s the art of Last Will and Testament which most will agree is probably some of Adam Kubert’s best work. Most recently on Action Comics Adam showcased a style that made his sketchy figures stand out more than I would have liked when set against his detailed, precise backgrounds. However, in Last Will and Testament he has found the perfect balance, making every panel of every page blend together to form a seamless example of the comic medium. There were even instances where Kubert’s pencils took on a look reminiscent of Dale Eaglesham, which is an extremely good complement from this reviewer.
I can safely recommend Last Will and Testament to pretty much anyone looking for a well written piece of fiction. While the connections to Final Crisis are rather broad, there is still a good story making up the foundation of this issue. Those that hate Meltzer have probably already sworn the book off but for everyone else: you’re not likely to find a better writer than Brad Meltzer when it comes to personal stories that tap the core of human existence. This is but another example to add to an already excellent portfolio of work.
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