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Meridian #43

Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2004
By: Olivia Woodward



Writer: Barbara Kesel
Artist: Vincenco Cucca (p), Don Hillsman II & Tom Ryder (i)

Publisher: CrossGen

Synopsis:
The sunship has been destroyed and, along with it, Sephie's dreams of unity for the world of Demetria. But is it beyond repair? Using her newfound abilities, can Sephie realize the potential that still lies among the dashed remnants? With hard work and determination, can she rebuild the hopes and dreams of her people?

But there is opposition. Ilahn, her cruel uncle, has gathered a group of sigil-bearers. His goal is to destroy Sephie and the dreams that she represents. In a battle, outnumbered five to one, can Sephie overcome the odds? Or will her mission of peace and community fall victim to Ilahn's greed and dominance?

Critique:
"Everything changes, sometimes in seasons. . . more often in sudden squalls."

This is the penultimate issue of this series. It's hard to start wrapping up the character threads that have built up for over three years, but Kesel focuses upon the underlying themes of change and hope. Sephie's mission has ultimately been one of change, in the hopes of creating a peaceful unification of Demetria's diverse population. Like with the sunship, Sephie has looked towards the potential of her fractured world; using kindness and diplomacy, she has hoped to bring it together.

But change is not easy. In opposition, Ilahn wishes to maintain the unjust status quo, a harsh hierarchy of economic and military subjugation. Sephie's mission has been disruptive to Demetrian society. Now, Ilahn has brought in outside help to permanently remove this bothersome catalyst of change. He wants her dead, and his allies have the power to deliver upon his wishes.

The plot is straightforward. Sephie tends to the sunship. Then, Ilahn and his allies appear. They get into a big fight. A sudden and dramatic change occurs that alters Sephie's life. It is a light plot, but the narrative point of view gives the action a greater emotional depth. This title has always been more about exploring the character than showcasing her actions. This issue holds to the tradition.

Although the pacing of the action doesn't grab the reader with its intensity, Sephie's emotional insights have poetic resonance, even in what would normally be a traditional "supers" slugfest. It is the lyricism of the narrative that compels, rather than the pacing and plot. The charm of this title is in its unique style and mood.

Likewise, the artwork captures the romantic and fabulous atmosphere of the story. The composition is exceptional. Sephie's flight has a breezy quality that captures her sense of joy and exultation. The facial and stance depictions are dramatic, but convey the emotive poignancy of the scene. The inked line work is dynamic in its weight; it is thick with action but delicate on detail. The radiant, yet gentle light of Sephie's sigil, the dark and furiously destructive energies of Ilahn and his allies, these rich colors tell a powerful story.

Appraisal:
"Things change. Sometimes. . . they change forever."

This issue ends with a dramatic change to Sephie and her mission. The readers are ready for a painful change as well; there is only one more issue left before this title is ended. Poor sales have dashed this lyrical title down upon the harsh rocks of economic feasibility. This issue eloquently speaks to both Sephie's story and the fan's concern. Things broken can be mended, but only if hope remains.

A tender tale of trodden aspirations, this issue showcases the richness of Barbara Kesel's storytelling craft. Sephie's voice is unique among comics. Don't let this voice pass away without giving it one last chance to beguile.



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