What if I told you there’s a fantasy series that rivals Conan the Barbarian? A fantasy world with a bigger setting and mythology that is grander and more captivating? You’d call me crazy, because surely if there was such a thing you would have seen movies based on that universe by now!
I’m here to say, after reading the first volume, we might just have our next hugely popular film series available to read today. And it was published in the 1980s!
The Michael Moorcock Library Vol. 1: Elric of Melnibone (Titan Comics)
This first volume is 176 pages of fantasy of the highest order, with dragons, pirates and magic swords coming together into an incredibly epic and robust world. Based on Michael Moorcock’s novels, this book opens with its hero, Elric, Lord of Melniboné — who was born an albino. Due to his royal blood in a long line of incest he’s been reduced to taking potions and elixirs to keep his energy up. His evil cousin Yyrkoon is aware of this weakness and wishes to control the throne so that he may rule Emerald Isle. Elric commands dark magics but has chosen not to use them. Yyrkoon doesn’t mind using powers of his own which ends up costing Elric a great deal.
Some amazing panels and layouts in here!
While the material is very much Lord of the Rings there are still some more adult themes within. There’s some brief nudity for instance and some of the concepts are philosophical in nature and might go right over younger fans’ heads. Ultimately though this is a great adventure that sees Elric do things that challenge the imagination and take you to a truly wonderful place.
Sweet plateform man!
This series was adapted and scripted by Roy Thomas and some might say he stuck a bit too much of the novelization into the book. The narrative and dialogue tends to run rather long, which makes one want to skip ahead to get back to the great artwork. Each page is rife with detail, but there also lots and lots of words to read, which is a shame at times because the art is so fantastic. I haven’t read the novels myself, so maybe extremely verbose dialogue is part of the book’s charm, but here it tends to get in the way of the art. That said, the story is easy to follow and at times has a storybook quality that’s enjoyable.
The story arc of this first volume feels very self contained and you’re definitely getting one large story when purchasing this. There are more volumes to come, but this is a fantastic heroes journey as by the series’ end Elric proves himself physically and mentally. Throughout he must tap into magics, the help of gods and even leave our plane of existence. In some respects this series feels like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series as the adventure takes you many places and challenges the hero in a variety of ways.
The artwork by Michael T. Gilbert to open the series is some of the best art I’ve seen ever. It has so many impressive flourishes, from interesting borders on panels to impossible architecture. Characters chew up the scenery and it goes a long way in capturing a vividly different and magical world. At times the landscapes and architecture feels like it came from a science fiction series as it’s so alien and impossible. The design of the pages are quite fascinating as well and tend to imbue a sense of atmosphere and mood.
Hmmm similar to an Ent from Lord of the Rings?
P. Craig Russell and Michael T. Davis are also artists in this volume and they aren’t any less atmospheric as Gilbert. The art does take a more traditional comic book feel with less accoutrements around panels and less risky page layouts, but the story doesn’t suffer because of it. This might actually be good for the narrative as the hero’s journey kicks in much more in the later portions of the book. The focus should be on Elric and less so on the landscapes and world around him, but it’s a change that does affect how the story is consumed.
Making some magic.
Is It Good?
A fantastical magical world awaits you if you give this incredible collection a chance. It has everything you’d want from a fantasy right down to the vivid world and heroes journey.