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Elric: The Balance Lost #1 (Ray's review)

Posted: Saturday, July 9, 2011
By: Ray Tate

Chris Roberson
Francesco Biagini, Stephen Downer (c), Travis Lanham (l)
BOOM! Studios
No doubt inspired by Doctor Who, Michael Moorcock envisioned the Multiverse as a way to create multiple incarnations of the Eternal Champion. Essentially, this was regeneration on a cosmic level. Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon and Eric Beck are all variations on Elric, the albino warrior wielding the soul-stealing ebony blade Stormbringer, and the Multiverse plays a role in the latest Moorcock-based comic book series Elric.



The presence of the Multiverse raises Elric above the basic sword and sorcery tale. Elric travels to another realm already ravaged by the imbalance of chaos and law. Here be monsters, but these monsters do not roam in a setting that's typical of fantasy. Rather, they stalk and slaughter on a modern earth in ruins. The contrast is intriguing. People who read Elric back in the seventies are used to his adventures in a realm that would be more suitable to Conan than Captain Kirk. This, however, is not the only land explored.



Today's comic books are starting to remind readers of modern day fascist movements. Perhaps, this is a reaction to extremism from the Tea Party and Republican governorship leading to a curtailing of human rights. Maybe, it's borne of the fear from European austerity measures. For whatever the reason, Eric Beck's earth is slowly becoming isolationist as jack-booted troops and waste of skin followers begin usurping the law. The most openly heroic of the Eternal Champion's avatars Dorian Hawkmoon feels unease as his daughter, warned by a winged cat, dreams of the forces of chaos making their assault, and Corum upon his return finds a brutal kingdom.



As you may have construed, the plot of the book is a heady mix, but it's Chris Roberson's characterization and Fracesco Biagni's incredible artwork that are the real stars. Roberson lays down ample evidence why Elric above all the avatars is the strongest. Although physically diminished, it's his strength of personality and his knowledge of the many worlds that gives him the edge over his fellows. Dorian's a good ruler and an above board hero, but Elric understands the gray areas. He straddles law and chaos, and that makes him ideal to combat the situation.

What combat it is as well. Elric slashes through grotesque nightmares. Biagni creates some amazing figures that might have wandered off from a Brian Yuzna production or a Japanese yokai film. Elric has never looked better or strangely more colorful. Stephen Downer makes black a color, and as a result Elric's ebony armor and blade standout amid bile-shaded monsters plying their horror in a dead brown world.



When the focus turns to Eric Beck's earth, the Law Party's troops despite sporting similar color schemes do not possess Elric's resonance, unlike the cliffhanger babe who appears to save Beck from an unwarranted beating. Again, Biagni is at the fore, with a pleasing collage of science fiction accoutrements for the lady.

Elric has swashed buckle in comic books before, but this newest excursion bears the feeling of a Moorcock book while exploring the overall linkage to his works.

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



Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.



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