Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Comic Review - Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne

[Cover Art Image]Writer
Julien Blondel

Artists
Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, Robin Recht

Published by Titan Comics

'The ancient island of Melniboné has been ruled by Elric, the albino emperor, for millennia. Reliant on magic and herbs for his strength and prolonged life, Elric’s grip on Melniboné is crumbling, as his people slide into decadence. Now his envious cousin Yyrkoon, Prince of Melniboné, plots to overthrow him and claim the Ruby Throne for himself!

Lavishly illustrated, this new comic adaptation has been produced with the full and enthusiastic endorsement of Moorcock himself, who has written an original introduction for this edition.’

This hardback graphic novel seems a little slim at first, but once you open the pages to reveal the stunning maps on the inside covers and the touching introduction by the creator himself Michael Moorcock, you’re then plunged into the world of Melnibone and all it entails.

The artwork from page one is somewhat amazing – the first full-page image alone pretty much punches you in the face with the sheer awesome imagery of the gates of Melnibone, and the design and atmosphere – glory touched by decay – is evident in that very first image alone. We’re then treated to a quick introduction, and then we see the man himself, a well-realised and gaunt Elric, upon the amazing Ruby Throne… and it’s here that I’m going to have to stop talking about the artwork. Every page is a glorious delve into the darkness and rich decadence of The Dreaming City of Imrryr. There’s no pulling back with the imagery here – the denizens of this once-great island are cruel and revel in the base things in life and it’s here in all it’s black glory. It teeters on the brink of overwhelming but never quite topples over the edge, moving from artistic to gratuitous, and seems to be much more dark than the book I remember reading; but then, reading it and seeing it are two different things.

The writing is sharp and well done, with the narrative being enough to accompany the images without telling the story for the artwork, and the dialogue is excellent. The characters are well captured and Elric himself is exceptional, but I always felt, in the books, there was a side to Elric I could find sympathy for, giving him the chance to prove his worth in my eyes before falling foul to another tragedy. I didn’t get that feeling as much in this as he does take part in some questionable acts. This isn’t much of a problem as this is an interpretation of Moorcocks novel and hits home with the alienness of the Dragon Isle.

And an interpretation it is, as it does deviate from the original. From the new opening scenes to the change of design of the Melnibonean warships, you will find differences in this to the original book, but that’s a good thing as you get to explore different aspects and takes on the setting and story.

Elric Vol. 1 is stunning to look and a great read. It lavishly brings the world of Elric to life and the details at the back of the book explaining how the graphic novel was conceived, with some concept sketches, only makes me highly recommended this book even more.