Merriam Webster defines “Amazon” (no, not the online retailer) as, “a member of a race of female warriors of Greek mythology” and “a tall, strong, often masculine woman.” Interesting then, that a futuristic world of high-tech drones and primary computer mainframes should use such an archaic name for their first line of defense.
At first glance, The Last Amazon’s technologically advanced forces have little in common with the bow-and-arrow-wielding soldiers of yore, but if you think about it, it makes sense that an army of formidable female soldiers should be named for the celebrated warrior women whose battles line the pages of ancient lore. Capable of destruction on a vast and massive scale, writer Jamison Stone’s and illustrator David Granjo’s Amazons are a force to be reckoned with in this post-apocalyptic graphic novel set in the year 2050. Sharing the same universe with Stone’s Rune series, the story begins at the end of World War III, a devastating affair that almost completely wiped out the human race.
What is left of civilization is now scattered sparingly throughout a nuclear wasteland, engaged in an ongoing cold war between its two largest cities—Denver and the Azureas Islands, formerly known as Hawaii. These superpowers are determined to achieve world domination, pitting the Denver Denizens and the last remnants of the U.S. government against the island nation’s Lockbae Monstlé, a corporate alliance of bioengineering scientists and military executives. Caught up in this struggle is a sentient technology known as Lex, who must rediscover her past in order to change the future. The fate of humankind lies in her hands, and there is not much time.
One of my favorite things about the book is its decision to move away from the graphic novel’s traditional panel format to tell the story through a series of vignettes, or separate experiences, if you will. Each page advances the story from a different perspective and medium, including social media, digital conversations accessed through surveillance systems, computer hacking, confidential government documents, blog posts, and online news articles, to name a few. I enjoyed sifting through the assortment of resources and points of view, which provided an insider’s perspective to a world filled with political corruption, corporate espionage and the ruthless quest for global domination.
This approach also serves as a clever way to cover a lot of ground in a fast-paced, dynamic way. While most of the book is backstory designed to set the stage for the series to come, readers take an active role in its retelling. As both detectives and historians, we unlock the secrets of the past right alongside the main character, who suffers memory loss after a traumatic event nearly takes her life. Interestingly, in this tech-centric world, collective and personal histories are no longer found in print-based archives, but digital records pulled from Facebook accounts, Instagram photos and computer schematics.
The innovative illustrations also stand out thanks in large part to their emotional impact, working in tandem with the text to tell the story visually through frames that alternate between close-up and panoramic views, a dynamic color palette and a mix of original art, video footage and photographs. Many of the characters are based on real people, and online profiles that include their photographs lend the book another layer of realism that ultimately pulls the reader in further.
Granjo also uses image to create an authentic web browsing experience, complete with pop-up ads that accost Lex throughout her online research. These ads, with their overly sexualized images of large-busted women, initially had me rolling my eyes. But then I thought about it. It makes sense that in a society numbed by information overload and dumbed down by fragmented info bytes, that the superficial would reign supreme. From social media sites where users can air brush their photos to achieve maximum hotness to soldiers as beautiful as they are brawny, Stone and Granjo infuse the story with their biting humor and social commentary.
Overall, I enjoyed this nail-biting read for its cast of strong female characters, hyper-realistic illustrations and unique format. The parallels between this futuristic society and our own also provide a lot of meaty content to mull over, from the dangers of big business mergers to social inequality to government corruption and political unrest. Since the book features a complex and often violent storyline, it is most appropriate for adults and older teens. Whether interested in postapocalyptic worlds, AI and computer-based technology, or action and adventure stories with a brainy underpinning, The Last Amazon should appeal to a variety of readers.
The Last Amazon
By Jamison Stone
Art by David Granjo
Apotheosis Studios, 2018