Love, War, and Other Frightful Creatures: Past the Last Mountain

Love, War, and Other Frightful Creatures: Past the Last Mountain

Past the Last Mountain Louie Joyce (Art and Colors), Paul Allor (Words), Gannon Beck (Layouts), Andy Schmidt (Consulting Editor) CE Digital January 13, 2016 Disclaimer: WWAC received review copies of all four issues of Past the Last Mountain from Paul Allor. On Free Comic Book Day in 2014, Paul Allor and Thomas Boatwright released a comic through Th3rd World

Past the Last Mountain

Louie Joyce (Art and Colors), Paul Allor (Words), Gannon Beck (Layouts), Andy Schmidt (Consulting Editor)
CE Digital
January 13, 2016

Disclaimer: WWAC received review copies of all four issues of Past the Last Mountain from Paul Allor.

On Free Comic Book Day in 2014, Paul Allor and Thomas Boatwright released a comic through Th3rd World studios about a world in which fauns, dragons, trolls and goblins were real, but had been on the losing side of a fierce war with humans. The compelling and complicated story that the introductory comic promised has now arrived; Allor, along with new artist Louie Joyce, is publishing this story through Comics Experience (CE) Digital.

Image courtesy Paul Allor and CE Digital

Willa is also pretty fast. Image courtesy Paul Allor and CE Digital.

Past the Last Mountain follows Willa, a dragon; Simon, a very young troll; and Kate, a faun who loved Simon’s mother, as they run away from a zoo-like prison in Montana where non-human creatures have lived since losing the interspecies war. The story switches between the prisoners’ escape and the prison director’s attempt to recapture them. This storytelling tactic allows the reader to learn details about the war and how it has affected faun, dragon, troll and goblin culture without painting humans as incomprehensibly evil.

Joyce and Allor are a fantastic match-up. Joyce’s backgrounds are simple and his action scenes are exciting and engaging. We truly get a sense that Kate’s speed and Willa’s dragon fire were great threats during the war, and experiencing them makes the human characters’ fear feel both palpable and valid. Allor keeps a good pace to make the chase feel real, but in issue two leaves time for an interaction that reveals how war destroyed positive interspecies (and interpersonal) relationships. A story that, in other hands, could have been trite or unoriginal provides valuable commentary on the complex ways in which war, racism, and xenophobia ruin lives.

One of the more intriguing pieces of the plot is the monsters’ conversation surrounding Dragon Lake, a utopia of sorts where monsters can live in peace, far from human influence. Allor uses the possibly mythical promise of Dragon Lake to highlight how desperate the non-humans have become. Kate, for example, does not believe that Dragon Lake is real, but thanks to the war, she has lost all connection to the vibrant, intricate culture that once defined faun identity. Her storyline gives a glimpse into the devastating effect imperialist war has on culture, and collective identity.

Image courtesy Paul Allor and CE Digital

Simon is a very cute, faithful troll. Image courtesy Paul Allor and CE Digital

This vignette about faun society is one of many moments in which Past the Last Mountain emphasizes the non-monolithic nature of monster culture. Fauns originally had a tribal structure, thus Kate is driven by loyalty. Dragons seem to have been more solitary, and Willa appropriately reacts selfishly and impulsively when the group runs into obstacles. Trolls and goblins also have very different, unique ways of living; Past the Last Mountain is packed with hints at how these creatures once lived that will tantalize readers who love world building.

Allor and Joyce have created a cast of humans that is racially diverse and a cast of monsters who are culturally diverse. Both the characters and conflicts are fascinating, although the sociopolitical problems of Past the Last Mountain’s world are not easily solvable, so it’s not a good piece to turn to if you’re looking for escapist fiction. However, if you’re looking for an allegorical story that highlights how racism and imperialism are both abhorrent and complex, you’re in business.

The first two issues of Past the Last Mountain are already available, and two more will be released in March and April respectively. To get your hands on this wonderful, complicated comic, purchase or subscribe to it on Comixology.

Alenka Figa
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