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Last Sons, by Alan Grant
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Warner Books
Published: 2006
Review Posted: 9/18/2006
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 0 out of 10

Last Sons, by Alan Grant

Book Review by C. Dennis Moore

Have you read this book?

After reading the Roger Stern-penned Justice League novel THE NEVER-ENDING BATTLE, I was happy to see another DC Universe book on the SFReader book list, this time Alan Grant's Last Sons. I dig novelizations of comic book characters, and Roger Stern did a great job of taking characters I'd previously seen as legends and made them human. Alan Grant, not so much. Not that he had a lot to work with, I mean frickin' LOBO is the main character!

In Last Sons, an artificial intelligence called The Alpha has decided that all life forms are worthless and it's going to destroy them. But first it's going to collect the last sons of already-extinct races, which includes J'onn J'onzz (the Martian Manhunter, the last of his race), Superman (the last Kryptonian) and Lobo (the last Czarnian). The Alpha issues a phony arrest warrant for the Martian Manhunter and requests Lobo, who happens to be a bounty hunter, retrieve the fugitive. The Czarnian captures his prey (well, J'onn ALLOWS himself to be captured in order to straighten out what is obviously a mistake as he's committed no crime) and takes him back to the Vrk Imperium from where the warrant was issued. When they get there, however, the Alpha captures them both and throws them into specially-designed cells which will not only use their own unique vulnerabilities against them, but also drain their emotional energy for use as a weapon. Superman arrives to assist his friend and, of course, The Alpha planned for this and has a krypton-rigged cell waiting for him, too.

As the villain sets off to destroy more of the universe, the heroes escape, The Alpha is defeated and everybody lives happily ever after. Except, you know, all those civilizations that fell before the heroes could end the terror.

So it sounds like an alright story. Why did it suck?

Lots of reasons. First, like I said, Lobo is the main character. Lobo is DC's interstellar version of Marvel's Wolverine character. Don't believe me? Let's see, both have a mutant healing ability. Both have some form of "wolf" in their names. Wolverine has claws that extent from his fists while Lobo has a giant metal hook and chain wrapped around his forearm. Their attitudes are almost completely identical, the bad-tempered rebel with the strict code of ethics. Even the designs around Lobo's eye mirror the shape of Wolverine's mask. Only difference is, Wolverine can carry a story on his own, while Lobo is a side character, always will be. Maybe if he weren't so blatantly a rip-off of the other, but when I read a Lobo story all I can think is "This guy is nothing more than Wolverine in space".

Another thing leading to the downfall of what could have been a . . . well, I don't want to say GOOD book, with Lobo in the lead, I don't think this book ever stood a chance, but one thing that could have made it not suck as bad would have been deleting the stupid subplots. There are too many in here. There's Darlene, the space-waitress Lobo has the hots for. There's Xemtex, a criminal Lobo is hunting in the beginning of the book. Xemtex accompanies Lobo on his job because he . . . well, see Lobo's got this space-bike, his hog, a Spazz-Frag 3000 and this space cycle has a central operating system that functions much like a sentient mind. When Xemtex destroys the operating system on Lobo's bike, the Bo takes out Xemtex's brain and, um, hooks it up to his bike, making the criminal his slave because if he doesn't do what Lobo wants, Bo will flip a switch and shock Xemtex's brain. Christ, it sounds even dumber writing about it than it did reading it, and reading it it sounded pretty frickin' stupid.

Other subplots that take up too much time include Xemtex's old gang who try, once and not very convincingly, to rescue their old boss. Plus there's the other bounty hunters. When Lobo's colleagues get wind of The Alpha, they see the reward money and want to steal Lobo's bounty.

But it's not all structural. The writing also was a mess. And while I know you're not SUPPOSED to quote from an advance reading copy in a review, I'm really NOT going to bother checking a final published edition against the advance text, so I'll quote from this one. Here's one instance of author Grant's sloppiness:

"It won't be too back," the dog handler called down. "You're a hero. You saved untold thousands of people from a horrible death. We'll treat you like a god. In fact," the man went on, warming to his theme. "You could even become the Official Hero of Gallioz, or something like that. You could protect up, save us when we needed it--"

Did you spot the sloppiness? If not, go read it again. I'll wait.

The bulk of Last Sons is taken up with all the dull stuff readers hate and there's very little real action considering the book's 322 pages. There's a lot of telling and too little showing and overall I found LAST SONS to be a dull book. Would it have been better without Lobo? TONS better, but I'm biased because I've never, in all my years reading comics, cared for the character. But that fix would only go so far, there's still the meandering plot to contend with regardless of who's in the starring roles. Grant seemed a little too concerned with word count and not so much with holding the reader's interest. Skip Last Sons and go re-read the Roger Stern book. Better yet, just read the comics; I'm no longer convinced these novelizations are all I'd hoped for just yet.
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