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Last Sons: DC Universe    by Alan Grant order for
Last Sons
by Alan Grant
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Marvel Comics has dominated the super-hero genre in the last decade. In novel (instead of their typical comic book) format, they published new storylines with such classic characters as Spiderman, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. Well, DC Comics proves that it can hold its own with their new release of DC Universe: Last Sons.

When Lobo, bounty hunter and all-around nasty fellow takes up a warrant to bring John Jones to some unknown corner of the universe, he heads to planet Earth to earn the million dollar bounty. John Jones' real name is J'onn J'onzz. He is the last son of Mars, and a member of the Justice League of America, where he goes by the name Martian Manhunter. When Lobo attempts to apprehend Jones, the two swap blows until Superman, the last son of Krypton arrives and instills order. Believing he's done nothing wrong, but wishing to clear his name, Jones goes peacefully with Lobo. Superman follows, finding the entire situation dubious and wishing to support Jones, his long time friend.

Lobo brings in his bounty, already planninig how to spend the reward. With Martian Manhunter imprisoned, Lobo expects payment but instead is tossed into a cell alongside his prisoner. His employer (going by the name of Alpha) explains that Lobo too is wanted since he stands as the sole survivor of Czarnia - a planet whose population was decimated by no other than Lobo himself. Shortly after Alpha leaves to eliminate all other life-forms in the universe, Superman shows up, but he too is captured. Superman and Martian Manhunter must form an uneasy alliance with Lobo in order to escape - while Alpha attacks neighboring planets and Lobo's enemies show up to cause him much deserved misery.

As a novel, Last Sons is a lot of fun and decently layered. While the cliché plot of having to save the universe from devastation initiates the story, readers will enjoy several subplots that fill in the gaps. With three powerhouses like Lobo, Martian Manhunter, and Superman, action is a given, while Lobo's sarcastic and crude machinations add plenty of elements of humor.

The compelling theme of the last son or offspring of an entire planet or heritage weighs very differently on each of the main characters. Superman - jettisoned from Krypton by a father who predicted the planet's destruction - stands as an orphan who has taken up Earth as his home. J'onn J'onzz survived a deadly virus that decimated the Martian population including his family. Teleported to Earth and unable to return before the entire population died, he carries the guilt and sadness of being the only one to escape. In contrast to both, Lobo caused the destruction of his planet. He harbors no remorse, but rather wears his genocidal actions as a badge.

Though Superman gets plenty of play time within the story, the novel primarily focuses on Lobo, with the Martian Manhunter as a close second. This works well for readers new to the DC universe. One would have had to have been raised by wolves in a cave in Siberia to not know who or what Superman is - he's an easily accessible icon. While the other two protagonists are not, they are just as engaging and complex.

Whether fan, foreigner, or foe to DC Comics, readers can enjoy Last Sons as an individual novel and do not need any special information about the characters than what is provided in the book. Alan Grant does a fabulous job of delivering exposition about the protagonists without overloading the reader. Indeed, Grant manages to balance many tricky obstacles within this novel and has created a fantastic piece of entertainment.

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