Thursday, 14 May 2015

Comic Review - Elric Volume 2: Stormbringer

[Cover Art Image]Writers
Jean-Luc Cano, Julien Blondel

Artists
Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, Julien Telo, Robin Recht, Scarlett Smulkowski

Published by Titan Comics

‘Yyrkoon fled Melniboné with Elric’s beloved Cymoril. Left behind, heartbroken and humiliated, the albino emperor pursues them with the help of Straasha, King of the Sea Elementals. Finding that Yyrkoon is hiding in the ruins of Dhoz Kham, in the heart of the Young Kingdoms, Elric prepares to challenge his treacherous cousin and rescue Cymoril. But little does he know that this quest will forever change his destiny, as he finds the legendary cursed sword Stormbringer…

Continuing the stunning new comic adaptation of the classic Elric of Melniboné novels by Michael Moorcock!’

Sequels are always a difficult thing in most formats and this isn’t so much a sequel as a continuation of the first graphic novel, and after the Alan Moore introduction we get straight into the story. The opening panel doesn’t have the grandeur of the first book, but it does get into the action with aplomb. The artwork is still of excellent quality and the design continues to be amazing, although it is missing a little of the sweeping grandeur of the first book.

If I had to make a single complaint about the art then it would be one thing - that sword.

Stormbringer is the soul-sucking black blade of the anti-hero, and it's gone from a slim longsword to an oversized anime-esque broad-bladed monstrosity. The design works in that it really shows the strangeness and otherworldly qualities of the black blade, but it didn't work for me. It simply felt like an improbable weapon to wield in a fight and even though I fully appreciate that this is a fantasy and that there's probably a thousand different reasons why a magic blade with a will of it's own could be wielded in an amazing fashion, it visually fell flat. 'A wizard did it' simply doesn't cut it for me this time.

By page three the imagery of the cruelty of The Dreaming City then topples over the edge. The fact that the Melniboneans are cruel was well established in the first book, so to go even further with their disregard for any life of any age is somewhat distasteful and over-the-top, and there's a sense of 'Okay, they can be bastards - we get it!'. Then, a few pages later, we’re shown Elric surrounded by corpses, and any kind of sympathy we may have had for the man starts to slip away. Later on we witness him savagely execute a small family and from then on I lost any kind of interest in the fate of the character, a character who I originally thought was doomed to tragedy but was starting to feel that he now deserves the cruel destiny that awaited him. If this series ended with Vol 2 then that would do me fine, and I would appreciate it as a story about the doom of a cruel and vicious man. If this continues on in this vein then I’ll no doubt treat it the same way, but any kind of attachment I had to the main character won’t be there and I’ll enjoy it for what it is; a version of Moorcock’s original book.

Perhaps, as with Vol 1, seeing the actions of the people of Melnibone and reading about them are two different things. You can edit your imagination, not so when the images are stark and plain in front of your eyes.

Now, it may seem like I didn’t like Vol 2 but I did – it’s well written, the artwork is exceptional and I can still recommend it. It didn't gel with the memories I have of the book or how I felt about Elric, but it was good to read about the emperor from a wholly new angle.