A Critical Hit Right To The Feels! – Reviewing ‘The Last Session’ Vol. 1
Writers: Jasmine Walls
Letters: Micah Myers
Welcome to the table.
Let me start by saying I actually cried reading The Last Session. There are moments depicted in and out of character that are so real and heartfelt that I was moved to tears. Often media can almost be trope-y when trying to tell a story about a group of friends who happen to play a TTRPG together, and in doing so it feels slightly insulting and anything but representative of the actual experience at the table.
The Last Session, published by Mad Cave Studios, is the antithesis of those trope-filled offerings. It’s heartfelt, honest, fun, and unapologetically representative of all non-gatekeepers who come to the table.
Jasmine Walls‘ script follows Jay, Lana, Drew, Walter, and Shen who began playing “Dice & Deathtraps” in high school. The characters are leveled, a clear indication that the party has been playing together for ages. The story picks up with the cast dealing with college and the litany of pitfalls both emotional and exterior that can plague people at that time in their life. Their weekly game serves, as it did for many of us at that age, as a constant.
As college graduation looms and the players’ lives begin to move down vastly different paths, Lana (The party’s 17th level Half-Elf Rogue) is excited to finally complete the party’s unfinished original campaign. However, there is some conflict and mixed feelings when Storyteller Jay’s partner Cassandra joins the game. Lana refuses to allow Cassandra’s inexperience to wreck what she considers the best part of her week, but sour feelings sew division and manifest both in character and out-of-game.
Dozerdraw‘s art is spectacular and lends itself to both the fantasy world of “Dice & Deathtraps” and the real world that the players inhabit. The writing is overflowing with real emotions and quiet moments that make the work feel lived in and honest. I often do not find myself about to label a work of fiction as authentic but I can think of no better use of the phrase than describing how this graphic novel feels.
There are some powerful ups and downs and a satisfying non-sitcom ending that makes me hopeful this is not the last time we can join these players and their characters at the table.
If you are a fan of Table Top RPGs, slice of life stories, LBGTQ+ representation, amazing art, and well thought out storytelling then this book may be what you are looking for. The Last Session Vol. 1 is available for purchase on June 22, 2022. You can preorder at Mad Cave Studios’ web store, or at your local shop.
Until next time, may you always keep track of your notes.