The Last Contract is a mystery/thriller graphic novel by the Canadian writer Ed Brisson. The story revolves around an elderly retired hitman known only as “The Man,” who is forced to leave his quiet retirement when he confronts two bikers sent to kill him in his house. Proving that his decrepit looks and slipping memory do not match his agility and strength, the Man easily bests the bikers, burns down his house, and sets out to find the person who ordered the attack. He finds Burrell, his old boss, and discovers that Burrell is being threatened by an anonymous blackmailer who claims to have a list of every hit he’s ordered. Burrell is trying to solve the situation by going after the hitmen and the relatives of the victims. Feeling that it is his duty to protect Dillon Williams, the son of a police officer he was ordered to kill, The Man finds him and enlists his help in finding the blackmailer.

The Last Contract is a fast-paced thriller that pulls no punches. It is violent and action-packed, but that is not all there is to the book. The story draws the reader in until the end. While many characters were somewhat bland and two-dimensional, including Burrell and the kid Dillon, two of the lead characters were better-developed. Despite lacking a name, The Man is a character who readers will find relatable. A retired hitman racked by a conscience and seeking to atone for his sins is not a particularly original character, but his grit and strength made him a character I could not help rooting for. Then there’s Sharon, an old colleague who also managed to get out of the game for the last ten years. She is, however, determined to fight for the life she’s built and to ensure the safety of her husband and two kids. In their fight to rise above a life of violence, these two characters are more realistic than the blander “mobster” types they are up against. Some might argue that retired assassins’ strength and stamina are not entirely realistic based on the sedentary lives they’ve led after retirement, but I doubt the author was aiming for that degree of realism.

Lisandro Estherren’s sketchy, rough art coupled with the dark, muted colors are well suited to the story. The exaggerated sketchiness of the art takes some getting used to, but does well to convey emotions and the tension of certain scenes. This book would fit well in adult graphic novel collections as a standalone thriller and would appeal to fans of noir.

The Last Contract
by Ed Brisson
Art by Lisandro Estherren Niko
ISBN: 978-1608869626
Boom! Studios, 2017

  • Anush

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Anush is a youth services librarian at the Monrovia Public Library. She orders books for children and teens. She regularly conducts programs at the library, including tabletop gaming, anime club, and 3D printing workshops. Her love of graphic novels started when she discovered the Sandman comics, and while she reads all kinds of graphic novels, Sandman and Neil Gaiman still have a special place in her heart. Fantasy and young adult literature are her favorite, and when she’s not reading graphic novels, you can find her listening to audiobooks and drawing. She has served on YALSA committees and is a director on the board of the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California.

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