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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #10

Abandoned to their own devices after exiting the living ship Spammer Gain, the four heroes of this latest saga of the Eternal Champion Cycle are left facing the forces of two armies and two elements of the Multiverse.

If you haven’t been reading, this comic series is but the latest installment of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle and features several incarnations of the Champion: Dorian Hawkmoon, Corum Jhaelen Irsei, a new incarnation (created for this comic) named Eric Beck and, of course, the titular Elric himself, who have joined forces to restore the Balance, lost as the forces of Law and Chaos battle for supremacy. Whichever one wins, the result would be disastrous.

The last couple issues of this book have been slow, mostly explanations of the workings of Moorcock’s Multiverse’s unique take on physics and the interweaving of the various planes of reality. Interspersed with this has been a bit of back story on some of the characters and their feelings about the collapse of all reality.

The current issue is somewhat similar, but centers around the four Champions’ attempt to confront of the two alien “god” brothers whose game of chess, designed to settle a dispute between them, and make them realize that their game is deadly real for untold souls who inhabit the worlds they destroy.

We are left with a set up for what promises to be the final battle of the epic, as the armies of both Law and Chaos are transported directly to the game board for  \what the alien brothers intend to be the decisive battle.

It bears repeating that artist Francesco Biagini’s work is simply magnificent. His rendering of both the classic Moorcock characters and those never before brought to life by an artist are both imaginative and true to Moorcock’s descriptions in his existing work. Beyond that, his depictions of the various environments are as realistic as a fantasy book could want.

If you haven’t been reading Elric, you probably won’t want to jump in at this point, but with the series (which I understand to be ending at 12) coming to a close, you won’t have long to wait before you can read the entire epic in a volume or two. At this point, I feel it’d probably be best enjoyed that way.

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #9

Take a trip you’ll never forget! See the sights of infinite worlds aboard the living ship, Spammer Gain, as she plies the waves between the very folds of reality itself.

For those not in the know, this latest installment of  Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle features several incarnations of the Champion, Dorian Hawkmoon, Corum Jhaelen Irsei, a new incarnation (created for this comic) named Eric Beck and, of course, the titular Elric himself, who have joined forces to restore the Balance, lost as the forces of Law and Chaos battle for supremacy. Whichever one wins, the result would be disastrous.

In this current issue, we spend most of our time listening to dialogue consisting of lengthy explanations concerning fictional physics needed to travel between layers of the Multiverse. I actually found it rather boring, even as a life-long fan of Michael Moorcock, and while it filled several pages nicely it did seem to be just a space filler rather than necessary information.

After last month’s slow issue, I was hoping the book’s pace would pick back up and for the first time since this series started, I was disappointed. Still, writer Roberson has given us a tremendous ride so far and I have to believe it will pick back up shortly.

As I’ve said before, artist Francesco Biagini’s work is simply a delight to behold and his rendering of the innards of the living ship were both slightly disturbing and interesting. Imagine yourself in the intestines of an organism and then imagine that body was filled with fantastical organic machinery. That’s just what Biagini did and he brought it to life spectacularly.

If you aren’t reading Elric already, this issue probably wouldn’t excite you too much, but for those of us who love the worlds of Michael Moorcock, it’s a necessary bridge to the next chapter and I look forward to enjoying many more issues.

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #8

War has come to the Multiverse, created by the literal sundering of the Balance, and the forces of both Law and Chaos assault the holy city, Tanelorn.

The latest and second graphic installment of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle features several incarnations of the Champion, Dorian Hawkmoon, Corum Jhaelen Irsei, a new incarnation (created for this comic) named Eric Beck and, of course, the titular Elric himself, who have joined forces to restore the Balance.

After making their way to Tanelorn, and discovering it under siege by the forces of both Law and Chaos, the four Champions briefly engage both armies before achieving egress to the city where they are greeted by Elric’s “late” companion, Sepiriz. It seems all four Champions have come into contact with him in the past, whether realizing it or not, and he may have been subtle guiding them to this point in order to give them greater insight to the Multiverse’s true situation, as well as a path forward.

This was a slower issue than previous ones, and I was glad for it, as it gave writer Chris Roberson a chance to not only expound on some of the story details our heroes (and thus we, the readers) have not had access to as well as setting us up for the next leg of the story. I’ve wondered, since the first issue of the book, how the story will continue as the war to restore the Balance cannot possibly last forever; after this issue, I have no doubt that Roberson will find a way that is both logical and enjoyable to continue for as long as he cares to.

Artist Francesco Biagini continues to delight, and I took a great deal of interest in his unusual page layouts this time around. The way a page flows can make or break a story, and Biagini not only ably tells Roberson’s story, he does so in ways that are both unique and fascinating on their own. The individual panels almost seem to crawl across the page, and the effect is that turning a page seems less like a new page, and more like the previous one simply shifting its shape to reveal something else. It’s enthralling in a way that I’ve not seen in some time.

Elric is definitely Boom! Studios’ best book, so if you aren’t reading it, you’re simply doing yourself a disservice.

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #7

No longer is the conflict between Law, Chaos and the Balance restricted to skirmishes in separate worlds, war has come to the Multiverse.

In this latest installment in Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle, several incarnations of the Champion, Dorian Hawkmoon, Corum Jhaelen Irsei and, of course, the titular Elric himself, join forces with a new incarnation unique to this comic named Eric Beck to put down the destructive forces of both Law and Chaos and help restore the Balance.

With Tanelorn, the City of Eternal Peace, under siege in one reality by the armies of Law and by the armies of Chaos in another, our four Champions and their companions rush (in two separate groups in two different realities) towards Tanelorn’s defense. In the midst of two pitched battles as each group seeks to enter the city, the two worlds merge, at least around Tanelorn, and the four Champions finally come face-to-face while realizing that they have been at odds with their true patron all along.

This was a great issue. What could be hectic and poorly-paced, easily, is the exact opposite. The book rushes headlong into an extremely convoluted situation, but never is the reader confused (at least if they’re paying attention).  Roberson’s dialogue is spot-on and he has captured the personalities of Moorcock’s characters quite well. He also treats us, once again, to glimpses of how other incarnations of the Eternal Champion fare in their worlds as the Multiverse crashes around them, and as a long-time Moorcock fan I was thrilled.

Hands down this is one of Boom! Studios’s best books, current or past, and if you aren’t reading it you’re doing yourself a disservice.

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #6

The drama of the end of at least some of Michael Moorcock’s worlds continues in the latest issue of this series from Boom! Studios. No surprise, it is enjoyable and well-done. If you’ve missed what’s come before a brief overview: Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle is a decades-old sci-fi/fantasy series encompassing dozens of different characters …

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #5

I can’t believe it’s been five months since Boom! Studios’ new Elric series began, and having just re-read issues 1-4, plus #5 out this Wednesday, I still highly recommend this book to anyone who likes comics, fantasy or just good writing. In case you aren’t familiar with any of the above, however, a brief overview: …

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #4

Boom! Studios’ new Elric series continues its initial storyline, detailing the opening salvos in the latest war between Law and Chaos for as both seek to tip the balance in their favor, an outcome that would benefit no one! For the uninitiated, Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle is a decades-old sci-fi/fantasy series encompassing dozens of …

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #3

Boom! Studios’ new Elric series is a rare thing in comics: a licensed property that both accurately captures the feel of the original source material and is itself original. It’s also highly entertaining, whether you’re a fan of Michael Moorcock’s or not. If you are unfamiliar with this series, it is the story of the …

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Review: Elric: The Balance Lost #1

As life-long fan of Michael Moorcock, I can safely say that I was both thrilled and extremely wary when I heard late last year about the new Elric comic Boom! Studios was doing. I’ve read virtually all of Michael Moorcock’s “Eternal Champion”-related material, of which Elric of Melniboné is simply the most famous, and could say I am something of an expert as well as a nit-picker.

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