ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #3 ( BOOM! Studios) Written by Chris Roberson. Art by Franesco Biagini.
The beautiful painted covers for this issue showcase the anti-hero Elric, and rightly so - - for the title of this book is ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST. But the actual book goes far deeper than just the tales of Elric - - it covers more of the multi-verse created by author Michael Moorcock. It’s a universe inhabited by countless alternate versions of Earth as well as different individuals assuming the role of Eternal Champion in each.
As such, ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST is a very episodic book - - jumping back and forth between universes and characters. If you are not at all familiar with Moorcock’s expansive work, then you’ll need a scorecard or at the very least - - you’ll want to keep notes (mental or written). It’s worth the effort, as writer Chris Roberson takes full advantage of the massive canvas that Moorcock has left him to fine-tune this portrait of a time when the balance between chaos and order is becoming threadbare.
In addition to featuring more events from the four universes depicted so far, a new universe is introduced this issue. It’s a version of London different from any other: early Henry Ford-styled autos motor across the streets while dirigibles fly overhead and citizens dress in a Victorian style. Two new characters, detective Sir Seaton Begg and his associate Mrs. Una Persson (also drawn from Moorcock works) exchange notes on how unstable travel has become between the time lines. Not enough is shown this issue of this realm, but I suspect it will pop up again in coming issues.
Each of these universes has its own peculiarities and quirks and all of them are linked to New Orleans. Elric finds himself in a version of that city inhabited by both humans and aliens (both humanoid and insectoid). They encounter difficulty in gaining passage aboard a “meat boat” (in the truest sense of the word) because of Elric’s white skin. The ruling class of Machinoix look down upon the “blancos” (or “whiteys”) servant class. Corum and Hawkmoon have similar quests/journeys in yet more versions of New Orleans, while in the city that we know best - - Eric Beck learns more of his destiny and starts to begin to accept these changes, in spite of banding together with an agent of chaos who breaks into an elite residence and uncovers a back blade that calls to Eric.
While there is some action and fighting going on in this book, ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST is becoming less and less of a standard sword and sorcery adventure and much more of a very detailed and classic fantasy with some wonderfully depicted vistas by artist Francesco Biagini. It’s definitely worth a look.
OTHER BOOKS WORTH CHECKING OUT THIS WEEK: ACTION COMICS #1, ANIMAL MAN #1, iZOMBIE #17, and CUBA MY REVOLUTION TPB (all DC/Vertigo); POTTER’S FIELD TPB (BOOM!); DAREDEVIL #3 and RED SKULL #3 (both Marvel).