Review: Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne

My first and only experience with the character and world of Michael Moorcock’s Elric was when Boom Studios took a stab at the character a few years back. I didn’t make it past the first issue for numerous reasons. The character looked cool and even seemed to have an interesting backstory, but the series itself was not a great reading experience and so I checked out quick. Because of that it took me some time to work up the nerve to read Titan’s take on the character, but having wonderful looking artwork from Robin Recht and Didier Poli helped significantly. Ultimately though, it was Julien Blondel’s story that won me over as I began reading and couldn’t stop. Unlike the previously mentioned story, The Ruby Throne begins at the beginning and explains who and where Elric comes from. Elric’s is a society that is feared by others due to its extreme power, love of death and it’s embracement of magic. In some ways it reminded me of Riddick and Thanos rolled up into one strangely magical world.

After a quick montage showing Elric’s birth and death of his mother, we’re taken to the present in which he’s become the king and ruler of the city of Imrryr and the Melnibonean citizens. His cousin and other Melniboneans think of Elric as weak, which is partly true. He is the most powerful King, but also the weakest because of the power. His cousin Yyrkoon calls him out in front of the rest of the court and Elric’s queen (who is also the sister to the Yyrkoon and married to Elric) attempts to put her brother in place. Fortunately for Elric he doesn’t need to prove himself on this night as enemies draw near to their city. Of course the cousin wants to make an offensive attack as he cares that other societies fear them. Elric decides that they’ll take a more defensive approach and use the “sea maze” to their advantage. The question is, how did their enemies learn the path through the sea maze and who is really behind the attack?

Other than the inbreeding the story is very interesting and entertaining… and the inbreeding was whatever since its fantasy story set in a time in which inbreeding between royalty wasn’t uncommon. In actuality this story is well-plotted and the characters were fleshed out and believable. The story does end on a cliffhanger which I liked and would love to read more of. Let’s just say that a person/entity is brought up a lot throughout the story and when it’s finally revealed it’s not even what Elric expected.

Julien Blondel’s story has been translated very well. There was never a moment in which I was confused or felt the story dragging or being too chatty. All-in-all it was a solid translation from Nora Goldberg.

Elric-Coverweb copy 1There’s never a shift in the art so I can only assume that Robin Recht and Didier Poli are an art team that have a style they can both produce or that it just wasn’t different enough for me to catch. It’s some gorgeous artwork and several times I found myself just looking at the page and taking it all in. There’s a lot of details to every panel that’s accompanied by Jean Bastide’s coloring which has a colored pencil look to it that is familiar to Richard Isanove’s style.

The character designs were very interesting as they had a familiar look to them; perhaps a little inspired by Moebius, Dune and even a dash of Blade Runner as strange as that sounds. Again, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something familiar about the aesthetics of the world, but I liked it regardless.

I’ve often heard Elric compared to Conan which is something I will never understand. Personally I think they’re nothing alike and that couldn’t be better illustrated than with this new tale from Titan. You have plenty of time to pre-order it and check it out for yourself as the book releases in September. I would definitely recommend it if you like fantasy and magic, mixed with sword play.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Julien Blondel Artists: Robin Recht, Didier Poli Publisher: Titan Comics Price: $12.99 Release Date: 9/16/14 Format: Hardcover, Print