Writer: Ian Edginton
Artists: Greg Land (p), Matt Ryan & Jay Leisten (i)
A simple sea voyage to the north, that's all Arwyn wanted. But things are never simple on her quest to reunite the fragments of the legendary arrow of Ayden. From murderous slavers to flesh-hungry zombies to living islands, things have gone from bad to worse. But has our group of intrepid adventurers come to an end of their misfortune?
On a luxurious island, populated solely by beautiful women, what can go wrong? Yet, there's a mystery here. Why is the island primarily in ruins? Why do the women call Gareth "great sire"? Why is Cassidy so upset at Gareth's frolicking with the women? (No mystery that!) What will happen when the women find out that Gareth is not what they think?
"This place is virtually a ruin. So how come those bits of fluff are living here?"
Bits of fluff, that's a good description for this title. We have a stereotypical "heroic quest" and a party of adventurers to fulfill it. Along the way, we see exotic locales and thrilling situations. A dragon's lair, ancient crypts, a boundless desert, these are some of the locales that we've seen on Arwyn's quest. Escaping from the "dark overlord's" castle, leading a rebel uprising, and fighting giant arachnid-beasts, these are some of the situations. But for over two years on her journey, Arwyn has remained merely a "bit of fluff," a pretty face amidst pretty scenery.
Things are changing.
Edginton is slowly delving into a much-needed exploration of character. In this issue, we get some time focusing on Cassidy, and her frustrating relationship with Gareth. These are the types of character concerns that create depth. Cass isn't just a roguish scamp; she's got passions that drive her actions. This is a good start, but we need more. In one issue, Cassidy goes from being a total stereotype to a character with "issues" to face. But it needs to be sustained.
As always, the art is fantastic. This is one of the prettiest titles around; this issue doesn't disappoint. However, Land's tendency to have his female character's strike cheesecake poses and flirt with the reader gets a bit tiresome. This gets absurd on occasion. For instance, there's a scene between Arwyn and Cassidy where the dialogue addresses Cass' emotional frustration towards Gareth, but her facial expressions and body language are clearly flirtatious towards Arwyn!!!!
"Just the same old, same old, really!"
Cassidy sums up my feelings in the quote above. The story is fun, the characters are enjoyable, the setting is interesting, and the art is gorgeous. Yet, there isn't anything compelling underneath the charm. There's no strong narrative premise that makes this a gripping read.
Month after month, we are treated to a fluffy, pleasant read. The storyline advances, but no significant changes occur. I'm happy to see the Cassidy/Gareth relationship put into focus, but it needs deeper and more sustained treatment over the course of the series. By creating character-driven conflict, this title will have a stronger emotional impact on the reader. Right now, I like the characters, but I don't really feel for them. They are too shallow and stereotypical for me to establish an emotional attachment.
Edginton is winning me over. If he keeps a focus on the characters, their passions, and their fears, then this title will be a classic. The wonderful adventures and tight plotting will achieve greater strength because we'll care about these characters. Their happiness and survival will be meaningful to us. No longer cardboard cutouts, they'll become "real" in our imagination.
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