Another day, another comic book property headed to the big screen. Not only has Hollywood hijacked the annual San Diego Comic-Con to promote their upcoming films, they also use the event to try and sniff out the next big thing. One of the most talked-about inclusions this year was Daniel LuVisi's Last Man Standing - a visually striking and uniquely formatted graphic novel from Heavy Metal publishing.
According to Deadline, Paramount has purchased the rights to develop Last Man Standing as "a multiplatform franchise property" with LuVisi remaining on board as a producer.
The level of attention Last Man Standing has received is actually well-deserved. I've been following LuVisi's work for a couple of years and he's been the talk of the town amongst the deviantArt community for quite some time. His work is both photo-realistic and highly stylized - even a quick glimpse indicates how much potential this has as a film.
Here's a synopsis of the story from LuVisi's deviantArt page:
LMS (Last Man Standing) tells the story of Gabriel, the last living Paladin soldier. Genetically engineered, he is a warrior of supernatural strength, anointed as the guardian of Amerika and its people. Admired and celebrated by most, Gabe's world takes a sudden turn when he finds himself framed by the terrorist group Pandemonium, for a series of atrocious crimes he had no part in. For these alleged crimes, Gabriel is sent to the treacherous Level-9 Prison Facility and incarcerated with the very scum he helped put away. After nine years of torture and agony, the once-famed hero kills his captors and escapes the 9 levels of hell he has been condemned to. From here on forward, Gabriel embarks on a journey into the heart of darkness; the New Amerika, a world filled with colorful and deadly characters that will either help or try to eliminate him - neither of which attitude is always transparent. As the once invincible hero digs deep to unravel the true reason behind his framing, he also discovers a problem he never had to face before: He's dying, and quickly.
While the plot may not sound alarmingly original, Last Man Standing's strength is in LuVisi's imaginative designs and in the divergent way the story is told. The graphic novel is designed to literally be the main character's scrapbook and from the fleeting glimpses I've had of it, this looks to be an unbelievably effective gimmick. LuVisi explains the reasoning behind this approach:
As for the entire series, it's a story of mine I've been crafting over the past two and a half years. I want it to be a graphic novel series, but start it in a non-traditional type way. Where most comics start off with a first issue, this starts off with a 230-page bible of a book, Killbook of a Bounty Hunter, that sets up the entire universe of the LMS world. But not only that, the audience gets an incredibly deep perspective on the protagonist, Gabriel, and what his plans are now that he's escaped from Level-9.
Here's some more of LuVisi's artwork for Last Man Standing from his deviantArt page:
I actually like the simplicity of Last Man Standing's premise and the number of different stories it allows to be told inside the universe LuVisi has created. With the comic book medium being exploited as a way to get film properties greenlit (I'm looking at you, Radical) it's at least assuring to know this project was born from passion and a desire to tell the story, and not as a business venture or studio pitch.
For more information on Last Man Standing as well as a preview of the book, check out Heavy Metal's official site.