Last of the Irin is a science fiction fantasy, spanning thousands of years of Earth history, focussing on a family of ancient aliens. These human-like but vastly more technologically advanced extra-terrestrials appeared like gods to the inhabitants of Earth and, in the story, have coloured our history and development ever since. The family tree in the first few pages shows the basis of the situation, and is heavily influenced by religions such as the Canaanites, that predated but heavily influenced the likes of Judaism and Christianity.
The underlying thrust of the story is built around a feud between two sons of El, Baal and Yahweh. We see this murderous friction come to fruition in the first section of the book, as Baal’s first son Marduk is assassinated by Yahweh during a religious ceremony, releasing a terrible plague on all his followers. Yahweh is exiled on another planet and Earth is assigned a status of quarantine, watched over by a minion of Baal called Satan. As you might expect from the name, however, Satan’s motives aren’t as obedient as Baal might hope.
What follows is a complicated plot of family subterfuge and intrigue, played out across space and time, as this broken family tries to assert its will on the universe. It’s worth pointing out at this point that the background detail drawn on and illustrated here is stunning. When we first encounter agents of these ‘gods’ on earth, they’re wearing space suits, with wings and glowing helmets that give their heads a halo-like glow. At no time are they referred to as angels but the fact that these high-tech space suits offer a sort of explanation of how human witnesses might have jumped to magical conclusions is typically perfect.
This gentle enhancement of the plot through the style and detail of the world building is the kind of thing I love in comics. We have the time to pore over these images and Wouter Gort’s art certainly rewards it. The plotting and script is just as worthy of careful appreciation, and I found myself needing to reread and go back to sections to draw out the nuances of the relationships between the characters. I don’t mind this at all: it’s subtle, sophisticated storytelling, and is surface detail drawn from depths that we can’t wait to explore further.
If you’re interested in gods and pantheons, and appreciate that riffing off stories that have been told for thousands of years is a fascinating and interesting place to start building a new fictional world, then you’ll love this. There are parallels that can be drawn to modern classics, such as Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for its appropriation of cultural symbols, or George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire for relocating English history to a fantasy setting.
This is the first book in a series but is an exceptionally strong start. Let’s hope the rest of the series can live up to its promise. You don’t even have to take my word for it, read it for yourself at the Last of the Irin website.