It’s been a busy year for the Black Kaiser. After kicking ass in his own film, everyone’s favorite one-eyed assassin has decided to retire in Miami. But if action movies have taught us anything, it’s that assassins never retire peacefully for very long. As the final volume in Victor Santos’ gritty noir series, does Polar: The Kaiser Falls, published by Dark Horse, end with a bang or a whimper?
Some of the early scenes with BK’s cleaning lady, Paz, didn’t feel believable. She was definitely giving the old man too much sass considering that she works for him.
The Kaiser Falls brings together everything we love about Polar– minimalistic color choices, creative paneling, and gory action. There are entire sequences without any dialogue that are still captivating and emotionally affecting. We also see the Black Kaiser fight in a way he hasn’t previously. He’s like an animal backed into a corner and he can’t afford to make mistakes or be merciful.
The addition of hipster assassins Richard and Iggy acts as a perfect foil for the aged Black Kaiser. It’s Pulp Fiction vs Pop Culture! The gag of Richard abiding by the need to live life to the fullest even when he’s killing people never ceases to be funny. Santos has expressed interest in exploring this team of modern freelance assassins in further stories and I’d be on board with that.
The Polar series has served as an artistic playground for Santos to experiment with different ways of communicating fight scenes in comics. The years of experimentation pay off in a killer final volume that captures visceral action with patiently paced storytelling.
The Kaiser Falls is a satisfying conclusion for longtime fans of the comics and a welcome introduction for fans of the Netflix film. While all good things must come to an end, the author and protagonist have one thing in common– going out on their own terms.