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Andy’s Read Pile: Elric

I know. More Michael Moorcock shite. Before you start thinking I have some sort of rager for this guy or something, let me explain.See I wanted to read more high fantasy comics…y’know Swords and Sorcery stuff. And I didn’t want to read more Conan, cause that’s cool and all but you can only read so much Conan. And I didn’t want to read Elfquest as that always struck me as kinda lame. And well I’ve read all the MOTU mini comics like a gazillion times, so where did that leave me?

Maybe the DC book, Warlord? Eh, too Vietnam Vet livin’ in a cardboard box for me.

Maybe Red Sonja? Eh, nice cans, but really is there much else after that?

Dungeons & Dragons? Everyone worth a salt knows there has never been  a decent D&D comic.

imageThen I found these Michael Moorcock Eternal Champion adaptions done in the early to mid 80s. Right time period? Check. Oozing Monsters? Check. Roy Thomas? Check. Its a done deal. I’ll put all these books on my read pile and it’ll be a nice change of pace.Only problem is that I haven’t finished all the other series I was going to talk about in this part of my blog, so I’m saddled with discussing these Michael Moorcock books instead. Which leads me to this week’s topic, the Pacific comics 6 issue adaption of the original pale ass gangsta, Elric of Melniboné.

Elric is probably the best known character from not only the Eternal Champion books, but Moorcock’s writings overall. He’s that one character, that like Conan, that crossed over into the mainstream and is fairly popular among most fantasy enthusiasts. That being said I thought it was a no brainer that I read his series first prior to any of the other Moorcock adaptions (like Hawkmoon, which whom I raved about a couple weeks ago)I don’t know if that was a mistake or not. At the time, I thought it was though. For the first 3 issues of the Elric comic adaption, it’s hard to give a flying fart about anything that’s going on.

Elric is portrayed as semi sickly morally ambiguous monarch of a decadent empire that long since conquered the known world with a mix of technology and dark magic. His days are spelt brooding like a Emo teen, humping some chick cousin of his, and having long winded speeches with an even more skeezy cousin named Yyrkoon who wants nothing more than to see Elric dead so he can gain the crown.And although that seems to be a main driving conflict and as a result provide tension to the piece, I found myself not really caring whether Yyrkoon succeeded or not. Elric, Yyrkoon, who cares? These are all miserable people which deserve miserable things heaped upon them. So it was at that point, I said I was done with the book, and started reading something else. Nobody in that story was sympathetic or heroic in any stretch of the imagination so let them have their petty little war. I won’t have any part of it.

That is until a couple weeks ago, when after finishing Hawkmoon, I decided to bite down and just finish the final 3 issues of the Elric series. Call it boredom, call it convenience seeing that the issues were right there in front of me, but I continued reading this depressing yarn.I gotta say after a shaky issue 4, the series actually started getting good in issue 5.

Elric travels to some other dimension in search of a fleeing Yyrkoon and the ancient twin blades of power. There he meets a character which I personally credit for saving the whole damn story in my mind, Rackhir, the Red Archer.imageA charming Errol Flynn type rogue, he quickly becomes friends with Elric and helps him on his quest to obtain the legendary sword, Stormbringer. However it’s not exactly the character which saved the story, it’s the way Elric interacts with him. By basically having a good buddy to play off of, Elric is someways humanized to the reader and becomes a more much likable protagonist. Just through the use of some friendly banter and you start caring about whether Elric accomplishes his mission or not. Not everything is gloom and doom. It’s an amazing breath of fresh air.

And then right on the heels of that, you get the epic confrontation between Elric and Yyrkoon with these uber powerful magic swords, and during which Elric shows himself as a capable and deadly warrior, again making him more of a character you’d want to cheer for instead of pity.image

He even spares Yyrkoon’s life in the end, showing the heroic trait of mercy. It’s like a totally different character than the one shown in the first 3 issues and I for one couldn’t have been more pleased.In the end, Elric doesn’t even want to stay in that depressing old kingdom any more after he gets back. Instead he wants to travel the world with Rackhir and see what adventures it has in store for him. Whether this was a part of some sort of character arc to start him as unappealing as possible and end him as more of the traditional hero, I don’t know. It somewhat worked as I do want to read the next series to see if this version of Elric continues.

In the end, I don’t know if I can recommend this series to everyone. It’s very good for the final two issues, but those first four issues is still some of the most self absorbed tripe I’ve read in a while. Flowery and verbose without needing to be with characters you could care less about. Still some of you Goth punk “parents don’t understand my music and feelings” kids out there might enjoy it.

Andy’s Read Pile Rating: F (first 4 issues) B+ (last 2 issues)

 

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