Elric: The White Wolf #1
Source: Novels by Michael Moorcock
Writers: Julien Blondel, Jean-Luc Cano
Artists: Julien Telo, Robin Recht
Designers: Robin Recht, Julien Telo, Ronan Toulhoat
Colorists: Jean Bastide and Luc Der Driest
Translator: Edward Gauvin
Letterer: Kirsten Murray
Publisher: Titan Comics
Review by Stacy Dooks
I grew up a voracious reader of all manner of fantasy fiction, but easily my favorite sub-genre of fantasy is Sword and Sorcery. Tales of ancient civilizations that never were, mist-enshrouded ruins, and dense jungles–all replete with ancient cities of spider-haunted mystery and larger-than-life mighty-hewed heroes is my jam, jelly, and entire sandwich. My first encounter with the genre was through Robert E. Howard’s legendary creation Conan the Cimmerian, and I devoured as many of the Ace paperback Howard tales and Conan pastiches I could get my grubby mitts on.
As I grew older, I made the discovery of another writer in the genre: Michael Moorcock. Moorcock is a fantasist and author whose works have included literary fiction, criticism, music (with bands like Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult), and whose concepts like the war between law and chaos as well as the multiverse are virtually common parlance in pop culture today. But easily his most recognizable creation is the fantasy anti-hero Elric of Melnibone, the White Wolf. How did the latest comics incarnation of Moorcock’s eternal champion fare? Let’s dig into Elric: The White Wolf #1 and find out.
In the wake of the events of the previous volume (Elric: The Ruby Throne) Elric, former emperor of the island kingdom of Melnibone has gone into exile, leaving the throne in the hands of his brutal cousin Yrkoon and leaving behind his cousin and paramour Cymoril. He’s taken on the burden of service to Arioch, a lord of chaos and is now the bearer of the sentient demon blade Stormbringer, which staves off the chronic weakness of the albino swordsman by devouring the souls of its victims. Knowing that swearing fealty to a demon lord of chaos is unlikely to end well, Elric wanders the Young Kingdoms, attempting to lose himself amongst the throngs of humanity–which are much different than his own kith and kin of the Dragon Isle. Our story sees Elric drawn into the affairs of one mortal woman in particular, one whose circumstances are almost a perfect mirror of Elric’s own. . .
First things first, the art in this book is gorgeous. From the designs by Ronan Toulhoat, Julien Reno and Robin Recht craft an absolutely beautiful story that’s well in keeping with the spirit of Elric and his world. The writing is great too, capturing Elric’s detachment and bitter melancholy perfectly and providing contrast to the more earthy human characters our anti-hero encounters. And make no mistake, he is most definitely an anti-hero, given some of his actions in this debut chapter. Another fun wrinkle was the addition of dialogue from an unexpected source: Stormbringer. The demonic hellsword is a constant presence in Elric’s mind, whispering at him to feed it more souls, bathe it in the blood of more people, ostensibly to keep Elric strong. It’s the devil on Elric’s shoulder constantly whispering poison in his ear, and I like that the blade seems simultaneously protective of its master/host and oddly jealous at the same time as well. I look forward to more of this dynamic in the future. And the surprise twist of just who their mysterious host is and what exactly she wants. . .well, let’s just say I’m invested in seeing how this tale turns out.
The Verdict: Buy It.
If you’re a fan of fantasy in general, and dark fantasy in particular, you’d do well to pick up Elric: The White Wolf #1. He’s one of the fantasy genre’s premiere bad boys. If the comic intrigues, all of Moorcock’s novels should be in print and include not only Elric’s saga but the greater tale of the Eternal Champion, the Multiverse, and the never-ending conflict between law and chaos. Run. Do. Not. Walk. Recommended.