Elric: The Dreaming City #1. Based on the novel by Michael Moorcock. Adapted and Written by Julien Blondel & Jean-Luc Cano. Art by Julien Telo. Colors by Stephane Paitreau. Translated and Lettered by Jessica Burton.
It's safe to say our boy Elric, Emperor of Melniboné, has had a pretty rough life. If you want to read all about it, you can pick up the previous trades from all good stockists. If not, here's a quick rundown of the very few highs and soul crushing array of lows that make up our story so far.
In Volume 1: The Ruby Throne, we learned of Elric's early days: Born an albino, he was mistrusted by his people, he sustained his life with dark magic and herbal medicine. His control over his country crumbled as his people slid into decadence, and things started to look pretty bad. And just when things couldn't get any worse, his cousin Yyrkoon attempts to overthrow him, and take the throne for himself!
Then, in Volume 2: Stormbringer, Elric's Cousin and Queen, Cymoril, was kidnapped by her brother, the duplicitous Yyrkoon. To get her back, Elric made a deal with the Lord of Chaos, Arioch, and paid for his services with the souls of the slaughtered people of Melniboné. This ended about as well as any deal with a Lord of Chaos can... leading to Cymoril dead at her brother's hand, and Elric consumed by his cursed sword Stormbringer, after he used it to resurrect his dead cousin/wife.
Last, in Volume 3: The White Wolf, Elric left his people behind, and went into self-imposed exile. He spent many years wandering about as The White Wolf, getting into a whole lot of trouble, before his path eventually brought him back to the ruins of Melniboné. Just in time for the arrival of a host of dragons and the new fleet. Lead by none other than Empress Cymoril...
So, yeah. Not a fun few years. But now, Elric needs answers. And he knows if he wants them, he there's only one place he can go: The Dreaming City, ancestral home of the Melnibonéans.
The Dreaming City #1 begins where all good adventures should: In a tavern. Sadly, there's only time for a swift half before we set off on our journey.
Our crew will need to chart their way over treacherous seas, and traverse bug-infested swamps... and that's just to get to the point where our adventure begins!
Will they make it to their destination? And, more important... will things get any easier when they get there?
If you have to ask that, you're clearly not familiar with Elric... As getting to their destination is just the beginning of our party's troubles. But to find out just how badly things go, you'll have to come back for issue #2!
I've always loved Moorcock's writing, and the Elric series in particular. I've always considered Moorcock one of the most literary of the great fantasy authors of his era, creating a world so rich with history and lore, that each paragraph feels like it contains the weight of centuries.
Needless to say, this makes his work a little heavy for some. So, transforming his meaty tales into a comic book, one of the most easily absorbed of the literary media, seems like an absolute slam-dunk of an idea.
But, of course, a good idea needs a great team to bring it to fruition! And I think we can all agree that the work being done here by Blondel, Cano, and Telo is nothing short of masterful. Seeing these tales I've loved for a huge part of my life coming to life on the page fills my nerdy heart with joy.
The first issue of The Dreaming City sets the stage incredibly well. If you somehow missed the "suggested for mature readers" advisory on the cover, it wouldn't take more than a page or so for you to get the hint: This is not your standard tale of noble warriors performing heroic deeds. Elric is one of the true anti-heroes of literature: a deeply conflicted character, he tries his best to be a good person and overcome his weakness, but so often finds himself leaving a trail of broken corpses and shattered lives in his wake.
But, Elric will never stop trying to be better. He will never let his failures stop him from trying to be a better person. So, as he once more tries to make things better, and ends up paying a brutal price for the knowledge he gains, I can't help but feel for him and cannot wait to see where this journey takes him next!
Overall, The Dreaming City #1 was a solid start to the series. Blondel and Cano's adaption of Moorcock's work flows wonderfully, not letting up for a moment and dragging the reader onwards from one harrowing scene to the next. Complemented perfectly by Telo's wonderfully gothic art, and Paitreau's muted colour palette, this first issue was just as satisfying from an artistic standpoint as it was from a literary one.
If you want to sample this beautiful darkness for yourself, you can pick up a copy of Elric: The Dreaming City #1 on August 18th, from all good comic stockists or online. Enjoy!