Ed Brisson (Batman & Robin: Eternal, Bullseye) teams with Lisandro Estherren (Redneck) for an explosive exploration of the cycle of violence that perpetuates the life of an aging hitman, and the struggle with trying to escape it. The Last Contract, out this week in a trade paperback which collects all four issues of the 2016 limited series, is the story of a retired hitman only known as The Man. He’s living a quiet, peaceful existence when shooters come knocking at his door. After years of retirement, The Man is now the target, and he’s not the only one. But before he can work on saving his own skin, he has to save another’s: the son of one of his last targets.
Ed Brisson has proven to be a versatile writer, and I can’t think of a genre he’s touched on that didn’t work out well. I honestly feel that Batman & Robin Eternal was the best weekly series DC has put out since 52, and his work on the most recent runs of Iron Fist and Bullseye for Marvel Comics have been fun, unique takes on these classic characters. He excels at writing the quiet, withdrawn hero, and plays up this strength to a tee with The Man. He’s an ornery old cuss, clearly at the end of his days and yet still able to kick ass with the best of him, the type of aged action hero you imagine the likes of Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford playing. Tagging along is Dillon, a foppish and awkward kid who isn’t entirely sure of his connection to The Man. The dynamic between the two is rife with mystery as it quickly becomes apparent that neither is what they claim to be. The cast of characters is rounded out with the usual assortment of mob bosses, fellow assassins turned deadly enemies, each with their own stylings and motivations that are serviced excellently by the well thought out, twisting plot.
Complementing this gritty drama is the art of up and coming artist Lisandro Estherren. The Argentinian based Estherren has a beautiful style for The Last Contract with a muddied, busy look that makes the whole story feel seedy. The sense of desperation and impending finality is present in every panel of the book, closing in on readers as it is our main characters. The world created here is not a pleasant one, rife with violence and gore, and no one we’re introduced to is really a “good” guy. Even Dillon, presented as an innocent in the on-going affairs of all those around him, turns out to have a dark side to him by story’s end. The art is complemented by the gorgeous colors of Niko Guardia (Hit: 1957). Guardia gives the book a firm but cool color palette to convey the grungy, seedy nature of the story, primarily blacks and blues with punctuating accents of reds. There’s a unique sense of style to the pages that really draws the reader into the story.
The Last Contract is a classic tale, an old hitman out for one last job. The story is bleak and dark, but tonally it works. Fans of hard-hitting crime drama will find this something to enjoy. The long overdue trade collection contains all four issues, as well as a cover and ink gallery. This is a definite must-have for fans of the genre, and one that will be remembered for years to come.
The Geeked Gods Score: 8/10
“The Last Contract” TPB
Writer/Letterer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Lisandro Estherren
Colorist: Niko Guardia
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: May 31st