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ELRIC: THE DREAMING CITY #1 [Preview/Review]

ELRIC: THE DREAMING CITY #1/ Script by JULIEN BLONDEL & JEAN-LUC CANO/ Art by JULIEN TELO/ Storyboards and Designs by JULIEN TELO & RONAN TOULHOAT/ Colors by STEPHANIE PAITREAU/ Translated and Lettered by JESSICA BURTON/ Based on the novels of MICHAEL MOORCOCK/ Published by TITAN COMICS

Cursed by the gods, Elric of Melniboné has exiled himself from the land he once ruled as emperor. Bound to the soul-drinking sword Stormbringer, Elric hopes to save the woman he loves and his people from the dark prophecy that foretells their destruction. His quest has brought him to a distant jungle, in search of the lost city of R’Lin K’ren A’a – the ancestral home of his people – where he hopes to find lost lore that might change the course of destiny.

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Much has been written about Elric of Melniboné and the influence of Michael Moorcock’s antihero on contemporary fantasy. I don’t have any new insights to add beyond affirming what Moorcock himself said about this effort to adapt the Elric stories into graphic novels in chronological order – “the best graphic adaptation of the story.”

I can’t vouch as to the quality of the English translation by Jessica Burton, but the script (originally written by Julien Blondel and Jean-Luc Cano) perfectly captures the essence of the original novels and while the words may not be Moorcock’s, the essence of his story is still there. There are no obvious incongruities, such as the text saying a character is smiling when the art shows them not smiling, which I have seen in lesser fantasy novel adaptations.

The artwork by Julien Telo is intricate. While the world of Elric is a grim and gritty place, Telo’s artwork avoids becoming cluttered or busy as he depicts the filthy and decay of the environment. Stephanie Paitreau’s colors add to this aura, with a washed-out palette symbolizing the fading glory of the lost empire and Elric’s weakening resolve.

Like Elric: The Ruby Throne before it, Elric: The Dreaming City is a worthy adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s work and a riveting read on its own terms. Fantasy fans will want to check this one out, whether or not they’re familiar with the original novels.

Elric: The Dreaming City #1 releases on August 18, 2021.

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