‘Last Driver:’ Advance Graphic Novel Review

In a world riddled with death, despair and giant man-eating monsters, one man does his best to not let the apocalypse get him down!

Three-year-old, London-based, independent publisher Dead Canary Comics is at it again! With a catalogue of comics that touches on bounty hunters, ancient demons, superheroes, frogs, and Shakespeare, Last Driver explores a post-apocalyptic wasteland created by the minds of writer C.S. Baker (The Fitzroy, Reddin) and revered illustrator Shaky Kane (The Bulletproof Coffin, Judge Dredd Megazine). The dynamic duo are joined by letterer Paul Clark-Forse and colorist Boo Cook. Artist Juan José Ryp rounds out the creative team by capturing everything about Last Driver into a fantastic cover.

With blonde locks, bulging muscles, and mirrored shades, Frank Sudden's decision to quit his 9-to-5 desk job just happened to coincide with a catastrophic event which left Frank's world populated with gigantic creatures with hungry appetites. Readers join Frank one sunny morning as he drives along a desert road in his blue 1969 Corvette Stingray in which he starts his morning with a perfectly chilled beer, a pack of smokes, and a higher grade unused porn magazine. The day, however, quickly turns sour and seems to set off a chain of events leading to mayhem, blood, scantily clad women, a prophecy, and, of course, giant monsters.

Last Driver delivers a simple, straightforward story that is hilarious. On the surface, it makes nods to all manner of popular films that include Mad Max, Godzilla, and any B-move with a giant creature in it or any small budget, post-apocalyptic film, along with a dash of Corvette Summer and 1980s buddy cop porno parody; however, dig below the surface and one will find that Baker has been judicious with his words, creating a sharp, over-the-top, witty tone that is entertaining and matches the cutting, fast pace of the narrative. This balances out Frank, who is actually just looking to cruise through the apocalypse, yet has the skills to neutralize people and things that hinder his goal of a laid-back existence.

Visually, the understated art style of Kane complements Baker's story. He focuses in on the main subject of each panel and leaves out extraneous details that would distract from the story. At other times, the frame is cluttered for the purpose of conveying the chaos created by the creatures as they destroy a city or at the arena when the slaves follow Frank into battle. Accentuating Kane's handiwork is the brilliant vibrancy of pastel colors from Cook's palette. It's colorful and keeps the tone of the story light and humorous. The speech balloons are laid out with the flow of the action and the reader's eye. Clark-Forse's lettering is clean and centered in the balloons, providing readable text, complementing the reading experience rather than drawing attention to itself.

Dead Canary Comics is currently running a Kickstarter to fund Last Driver. A few days into the campaign, the project was closing in quickly to their goal of $7200, at the time of writing this review. Last Driver will appeal to readers who gravitate towards the humorous, post-apocalyptic stories that don't take themselves too seriously while giving nods to popular '80s films and well-worn tropes. And the art style and colors will resonate with fans of superhero stories and Judge Dredd comics. It's another notch in Dead Canary Comics' publishing belt, further establishing their presence for solid indie titles worth one's time and money.

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