If you've been thirsting for a mature, high-fantasy comic with horror undertones, the offerings have been slim. With creator-driven titles like Sandman, Preacher, and even Fables, DC Comics' Vertigo imprint reinvented what these genres could be, by thinking outside the box. So perhaps it's fitting that the evolution of Vertigo, now DC's Black Label imprint, is the home to a title that truly answers the call. The Last God aims to draw on the classic Tolkien-esque fantasy epic, but strives to subvert the fantasy staples and enter into new spaces with gruesome body horror.
We've taken a look at the concept and world building of The Last God with co-creator and writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson, but now we take an exclusive look at the creature design of this world with Johnson and co-creator and artist Riccardo Federici, whose artwork immediately establishes the book as a must-read this winter.
"The world of Cain Anuun was a tricky one to design," said Johnson. "On one hand, we want it to be a place readers are eager to travel to and explore, but we also need it to be kind of a cruel place. This is not a world of happy, sparkly, undying elves, shining white unicorns, or comfortable, quaint hobbit-holes. Riccardo’s creature designs perfectly reflect the harsh and unforgiving world that is Cain Anuun."
"Even earthly creatures are affected by the particularity of this universe, but some beings existing in our reality, while others are totally invented," explained Federici. "The Ursulon (originally called the Pecheron) and flowering dead are two examples that fit perfectly."
The ursulon (see below) are gigantic, powerful creatures that live on the dragonsmoor, but they don't speak in a way we recognize as language. Still, their presence in the series is important. "The ursulon are very intelligent, fiercely protective of their mates and young, and are known to RARELY become attached to a single human," revealed Johnson. "They most often walk and run on all fours, but in combat can also raise up on their hind legs and fight like the bipedal races do. You do NOT want to be around when that happens."
One of the important creatures in the series is what chief adversary, Mol Uhltep, aka the Last God, unleashes unto the world: the Plague of Flowers, a natural plague that makes all dead things his servants, the Flowering Dead (see below).
"The Flowering Dead are a mix of chaos, irrationality, weeds, and zombies," said Federici. "You put everything in the blender and depending on the amount of ingredients and mixing time, you'll get different characters."
"When we were discussing possible designs for the Flowering Dead, I explained to Riccardo that these are not just reanimated corpses, not simply ghouls or zombies — they’re PROFANITIES! Disgusting masses of dead flesh, plant life, smoke, and ash, each one more horrifying than the last. We drew a bit of inspiration from beloved video game franchises The Last of Us and Dead Space, as well as a number of other sources, but the end design is one only Riccardo could have come up with."
See below for our entire exclusive preview of these incredible creature designs and look for them as part of the epic fantasy comic, The Last God #1, on stands Oct. 30, at your local comic shop or wherever digitial comics are sold.