Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Michael Moorcock Library: Elric of Melnibone

    Most sword-and-sorcery heroes follow a typical mold: they're strapping muscle men, killing monsters with a sword while canoodling with a beautiful, half-naked damsels.

   But writer Michael Moorcock took a completely different approach when he created Elric of Melnibone.

   The heir to the throne of a mystic kingdom, Elric is an albino, given to bouts of weakness, which he offsets with drugs and magic - and eventually by the use of the arcane sword known as Stormbringer, a blade that gives Elric strength by drinking the souls of its victims.

   This volume collects the six-issue 1980s mini-series by writer Roy Thomas, layout and ink artist P. Craig Russell, and pencils by Michael T. Gilbert - and what an amazing, gorgeous volume it is.

   It's the perfect combination of incredible writing (is there anyone better at crafting comics adaptations than Thomas?) and mind-blowing artwork.

   Gilbert and Russell are different artists, but their styles mesh vey well here, creating mystic, flowing environments, stunning character designs and shocking depictions of alien creatures and monsters. Sometimes lovely, sometimes gruesome - you never know what to expect.

   This collection isn't for everyone - it's a dark, adult story, with death, destruction, nudity and terror.

   It's an origin of sorts for Elric, and reveals his connection to dark gods and mystic forces, introduces some of his supporting cast, and describes how he came to possess his mystic sword.

   It's great to see this classic tale being made available to modern audiences. Part horror, part adventure, and all imagination - it's a terrific work and highly recommended!

Grade: A


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