01/05/2012. Contributed by Andy Whitaker
pub:Arcana Comics. 66 page graphic novel/pdf file. Price: $ 9.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-926914-89-3.
check out website: www.arcanacomics.com
This is an absolute gem of a fantasy graphic novel. I have rarely enjoyed reading one so much. The artwork is of the usual Arcana high standard and the style employed helps to emphasise the fantasy nature of the story. Before discussing the plot in detail, I should mention that the story was by Jason Chiu with the art by Ada Zhu. The script was by Alex De-Gruchy while Bernie Lee appears under the credit for Letter. There is also a credit to Robekka Art Studio but I’m not sure if this is a person or a company. I understand these details are important to collectors of graphic novels.
Anyway, back to the plot, which starts with the traditional ‘Once upon a time…’ before going on to describe the kingdom of Gulmakane and its capital city, Penning. Unfortunately, King Hector Granville III has been very ill for a month and shows no sign of getting any better despite the best efforts of the royal physicians. In desperation, the king proclaims that any man who can bring him the legendary Elixir of Eternity will win his daughters hand in marriage. Step forward one Roland Morgaine, a hero renowned throughout the kingdom for his strength and courage for fighting for truth and justice. He will be accompanied on the quest by two of the King’s most trusted men.
This may all sound like traditional fantasy fare especially as the princess is reported to be spoilt, selfish and arrogant which is probably why imprisoning her in her own wing of the castle for the last six years may not have been such a bad idea. Things get interesting when we learn that the hero Roland Morgaine is actually ‘an utter bastard’. It is not traditional for the King to hire an assassin and charge him to trail the hero on his quest and kill him just before he delivers the Elixir. The King’s two most trusted men have also been given the same orders to kill Morgaine on the return journey but have not been told about the assassin. However, the assassin has also been told to kill the two men as well just to avoid any loose ends. The plot’s getting complicated but we are only on page 6 and the quest has yet to start.
There are yet more twists and turns to the plot as the party progresses on its quest to find and return the legendary Elixir of Eternity. It would be unkind of me to mention the latter plot elements as that would act as spoilers to any first time reader. All I can say is that I was surprised at the depth and pace of the story. There is one exception to this, which is mentioned on the back cover ‘…people will learn that you should always go around the haunted fort.’ A wise lesson for everyone I think.
Surprisingly for a graphic novel, the characters have real character. The many twists and turns of the plot are consistent with the story and the environment. Lastly, we come to the end and the ending is done well leaving the door open to possible further tales, for the survivors at any rate.
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