COMIC BOOK REVIEW: ELRIC OF MELNIBONE / AUTHOR: ROY THOMAS / ARTIST: MICHAEL T. GILBERT, P. CRAIG RUSELL / PUBLISHER: TITAN COMICS / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 28TH
Michael Moorcock's hero is making a resurgence of late; as well as new comic book versions of Elric's adventures, publishers Titan have also released what they’re calling The Michael Moorcock Library, a series of hardbacks that collects, restores and re-edits the classic comic adaptation from the 1980s.This first volume, Elric of Melnibone, tells the story of the doomed albino up to the point where he returns home with the famous sword Stormbringer, following a quest to retrieve his stolen love from the clutches of Yyrkoon, the would-be usurper.
It's aged well, a tale brilliantly told and lavishly illustrated. Michael T. Davis and P. Craig Russell broke the mould with their Art Nouveau style and, although it is sometimes overloaded with detail, the eyes of the reader are captured by every part of the pages, which are brought to life by unconventional layouts and sublime colouring. Davis and Russell brought Elric with them into a new age of comics, which is why it has lasted so well, but there are still moments that shock the reader from the story. Yyrkoon, for instance, often looks like a cross between a cartoon character and a pantomime villain, while Rackhir the archer is essentially Errol Flynn dressed in red. Roy Thomas’s script remains faithful to its source, praised by Moorcock himself in the introduction, although by today's standards it may feel somewhat overblown. However, like the art, it's something the reader quickly succumbs to; once begun, this is a book that can't be put down until the last page, a sometimes surreal and often dreamlike interpretation.
The publishers have put together a wonderful package, a good place to start for anyone interested in Moorcock's ill-fated character. Elric is arguably the hero many know about but have never read, and Titan have offered a fantastic opportunity to do so, one which will hopefully see the readers entranced enough to seek out Moorcock's novels. While it shows its age, which may prove divisive amongst fans, there's no denying the power of the story and the characters involved; the fact that, decades on, Elric's name is still on the lips of fantasy fans is testament to that strength, making him a hero deserving of space on everyone's shelves.