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ADVANCE REVIEW: Elric: The Balance Lost #1 (Danny's review)

Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011
By: Danny Djeljosevic

Chris Roberson
Francesco Biagini, Stephen Downer (c), Travis Lanham (l)
ADVANCE REVIEW! Elric: The Balance Lost #1 will come out on July 6, 2011.

When I reviewed the Free Comic Book Day Preview of Elric: The Balance Lost, I marveled at the high fantasy trappings colliding with intradimensional craziness and was just a little intrigued by the taste of Michael Moorcock's world(s) we were getting from Chris Roberson and Francesco Biagini. Plus, it had Elric shrieking and killing things with a sword. While excited to find out more, I didn't read up on any Moorcock in preparation for the series proper (that would have shown initiative), but I certainly eagerly read the first proper issue of The Balance Lost. After all, the perspective of a newbie is important to this kind of thing, right?

While the FCBD issue was Elric-centric, The Balanced Lost #1 plays up Eric Beck, the earthbound counterpart of the Eternal Champion(s), who happens to be a video game designer with an evil demagogue of a twin brother who heads a political group called the Law Party, which is a bit like the Tea Party but with way more Third Reich iconography. In other words, this is the bit where Roberson throws a bone to readers who might not be as interested in the potential threat of chaos if their home planet isn't in immediate danger.

I don't think Earth is that important. To me, Earth is a setting in a genre movie with budget restrictions. It's a place Dolph Lundgren and Chris Hemsworth go because Eternia and Asgard are too expensive. Comics don't have the same monetary chokeholds on creativity, so sticking to Earth feels a bit small to me. Most people can't look past the ground they stand on (too pessimistic?), so maybe I'm in the minority on this one.

Either way, despite my complaints, Roberson makes the mundane stuff thematically relevant enough to keep interest. Eric the game designer is working on a good versus evil kind of game that he deems "simplistic" while the so-called Law Party is clearly causing chaos by protesting and spouting hilarious chants like "What don't we want? Change! When do we want it? Never!"

Really, though, I can be kept happy if I get some more of Elric murdering things with Stormbringer. Thankfully, Roberson and Biagini indulge me as the Eternal Champion hews and cleaves some wonderfully designed monsters with teeth and mouths in all the wrong places. At one point there's a giant serpentine creature with venus flytraps for tits. I feel like this comic gets me.

Roberson's script spends a bit of page time on the other two Champions, Corum Jhaelen Irsei and Dorian Hawkmoon, respectively an adventurer turned depressive death-seeker and an epic hero turned family man. Roberson seems to be visiting these characters in the aftermath of their hero-defining quests, and aftermath is something that intrigues the writer part of my brain, ever since teen dramas never really matched up with my real-life middle school -- walking into the sunset on the last day of school, I'd still come home and have dinner with my parents and go to bed and get up the next day.

To use what little fantasy experience I have, it's like catching up with Bilbo in Fellowship of the Ring after The Hobbit and realizing the star of that amiable kid's adventure had grown very, very fucked up after holding on to the Ring for so many years. Even though the writer's written the last sentence and you've closed the book, there's still this big ideaspace where characters exist and can age, die or live forever as the imagination chooses.

But you know these seemingly retired heroes are going to go on another big quest to help right the balance of order and chaos. That quest isn't quite underway by the end of the first issue of Elric: The Balance Lost, but once it kicks off I'll probably be even more exited by this book.

Ray Tate also reviewed Elric: The Balance Lost #1. Read his thoughts, too!

Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book writer, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat.

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