COMIC BOOK REVIEW: ELRIC VOL 2 – STORMBRINGER / AUTHOR: JULIEN BLONDEL, JEAN-LUC CANO / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: TITAN COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Stormbringer is volume two of the latest comic-book interpretation of Michael Moorcock's Elric series, following on from The Ruby Throne. Given the artists and writers that have already told Elric's story in the past, there are some tough acts to follow, but readers needn’t fear; despite this being a slender volume, writers Julien Blondel and Jean-Luc Cano have distilled the essence of the story down to its core, portraying Elric as a tortured and ill-fated hero who will do anything to rescue his beloved, including making deals with Chaos Lords and elemental forces.
Stormbringer is arguably one of fantasy’s most famous tales, and this take on it is a pleasure to read from beginning to end. Alan Moore’s introduction joins Moorcock’s declaration that this is “the most successful true-in-spirit re-imagining of his fate-harrowed icon” and it's easy to see why. Every page is beautifully drawn, characters and locations brought vividly and dramatically to life. The art has an otherworldly quality to it, coloured in tones of red, grey and blue that make it fittingly elemental, while the script ensures there’s constant drama. The portrayal of the demons and monsters Elric is forced to deal with are nothing short of stunning, as is the creeping sense of impending doom that comes to its head when our hero finally wields the eponymous sword.
All of this is packaged within an oversized hardback graced with a superb cover. It’s slim – on first glance, maybe too much – but never disappoints. Despite trimming down the story, the writers have chosen wisely to ensure the plot motors along and, while there’s a risk that some won’t like this, it most certainly works; yes, Elric is doomed, but we still maintain sympathy for him, so much so that we may find ourselves hoping against all hope that the young man may beat the odds this time round.
For those who haven't read or heard of Elric before, it may be better to start with the previous volume; although this does feel like it could be read in isolation, some background knowledge of the character would be wise. Those who do know what to expect should find themselves pleasantly surprised and will doubtless join the former in appreciating the beauty of the storytelling on show here.