By Ben Boruff
As I read Luminous Ages, “Elegy” by Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy played in my mind. The song seemed to capture the essence of the comic: a beautiful depiction of a vague fantasy. I have played Dungeons & Dragons several times—once as a halfling, once as a dwarf, and once as an aggressive tiefling named Octavio Warchild—and, though I was an admittedly poor addition to my various groups of honor-bound vagabonds, I enjoyed the game’s ability to evoke imaginative scenarios. Guided by the classified omniscience of the Dungeon Master, participants help create the story by choosing actions and moving freely within outlined areas. If the narrative is a house, the Dungeon Master builds the frame, and the players decorate the interior. This type of minimally guided storytelling, however, does not work well in comic form. Comics, including Luminous Ages, require characterization, effective pacing, and unforced dialogue. The author of a comic cannot operate like a Dungeon Master.
Though the basic story is enjoyable, Luminous Ages lacks the characterization needed to make the narrative truly compelling. As an English teacher, I tell my students that, in some ways, an author and a reader work together to create a narrative experience—the reader must visualize the scenarios that the author describes—but the reader’s power in this relationship is limited. Ultimately, readers must follow the trail paved by the author. Readers of Luminous Ages are not given enough information to empathize with the characters, and the information that is provided is somewhat banal. The protagonist, Thrakos, exists in a stunning world, but most readers will not be able to develop any meaningful connection with him as a character.
The creation of Luminous Ages was clearly a labor of love. Some panels are breathtaking, filled with vibrant colors and Brobdingnagian characters. Reading some pages of Luminous Ages is like playing Magic: The Gathering at a Pink Floyd concert. Some of the panels could be sold for decent prices at comic conventions as single prints. The story opens with a description of the universe of Luminous, and artist Anthony Christou immediately showcases his impressive talent. On the second page, thirteen radiant stars morph into thirteen magnificent creatures, and the page seems to crackle with bioluminescent energy. Neon oranges rub against electric blues, and the characters are strategically balanced in each panel. If nothing else, Luminous Ages is a notable introduction to the dazzling artwork of Christou.
I hope that future issues of Luminous Ages will take time to effectively develop Thrakos and other characters so that the comic can be both visually and narratively engaging. Though the first issue has its blind spots, I am excited to see what the next issue adds to the universe.
Luminous Ages #1
Writer/Artist: Anthony Christou
Publisher: ACD Comics