Free Comic Book Day preview - - books worth seeking out – Part 1

ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST  (Boom Studios, Free Comic Book Day edition May 2011)  Written by Chris Roberson.  Art by Francesco Biagini. Colorist: Stephen Downer. Letterer: Travis Lanham.  Elric created by Michael Moorcock.

Elric_FCBD_CVR

Among the many benefits of participating/supporting Free Comic Book Day by visiting a local comics shop on May 7, 2011 is getting to network a little with like-minded individuals who share our fascination with this original American art form.  (We are legion!  That’s reason enough to be there. )   Obviously, the primary purpose is to entice new readers to our hobby by giving them a free sample.  For those of us already converted, it’s a chance to explore a little beyond our regular reading choices and see what else might attract our attention.  I certainly hope that comic shops have ordered enough copies of ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST because this is a book that everyone should sample.

     Writer Chris Roberson has already demonstrated his ability to adapt and create new works from classic genre literature  (DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?: DUST TO DUST mini-series/prequel) and I definitely expect the same high quality and attention to detail with his handling of  Elric, the philosophical self-doubting reluctant adventurer from creator Michael Moorcock.  The highly literate Moorcock  raised the bar for sword and sorcery epics with these stories back in the 1970’s.

With just 12 pages to work with in the FCBD edition, Roberson capably lays the foundation and touches on the main points of this epic,  managing to entertain us at the same time while whetting our appetite for more by hinting at a bigger picture/universe.  Roberson plans to incorporate elements of Moorcock’s greater creation, the Multiverse.   Here there are similar heroes to Elric  (Eternal Champions) all taking different stances /approaches to the infinite clash between Law and Chaos, and the balance of the universe.   I can’t wait to see how he handles Corum and Hawkmoon, as well as the dream-plagued Eric Beck of more modern times.

A quick summary of the main points for the uninitiated:  Elric is the albino prince/emperor of Melnibone, a fantasy world amongst the Multiverse, who is physically linked and partially nourished/strengthened by the use of his black blade Stormbringer, which steals the souls of all he slays.

Elric_FCBD_rev_Page_4

    I admit to rushing through this story a bit, and not dwelling on the artwork - - which is absolutely fabulous.  The art and coloring on this book by Biagini and Downer is both vivid and fluid and worth lingering over in admiration.   I can’t wait for the main book to begin this summer.

The back of the FCBD edition contains a nice written piece on 40 YEARS OF ELRIC:  SEQUENTAL ART that traces the history of prior adaptations of Moorcock’s work from Marvel to Heavy Metal to  Dark Horse and DC as well as some long-lamented former publishers in First, Pacific, Topps  and Windy City Comics.   The book wraps up with some gorgeous concept sketches by Biagini.  Yes, this one is a keeper   --  and free to boot  (for now).   Grab your copy on 5/07/11.

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