Once in a while, something really spectacular makes itself known and this time it is a new release featuring one of literature’s greatest characters. Michael Moorcock’s legendary creation, Elric, has been adapted many times in the comic book medium, not to mention starring in many novels and stories by his creator. The Ruby throne is the first time where the story and the artwork finally put across the majesty, the glamour and the horror of what it is like in the land of Melniboné. Why it has taken so long to get to this point is anyone’s guess, and not to do a disservice to anyone’s work who has come before, because much of it was quite enjoyable, this particular adaption is just miles ahead of what anyone else has ever done. This book is beautiful on all fronts, as well as frightening, awe-inspiring and decadent. Even Moorcock, in his introduction loves this version above all others. If you were to get a note of congratulations, getting one from Moorcock himself is the best you could hope for. It is well deserved as well, as once you start reading this book, you find yourself immersed in the happenings of the court and of Elric, and it is extremely hard to put down.
Those creators include writer Julien Blondel who must have read the original novels dozens of times to pick up on the right mood and the right atmosphere needed to portray Elric in all his glory. In The Ruby Throne, Elric actually sounds and acts like he should and seeing him before you, like you have always pictured him, is almost surreal. There is being faithful to the source material and then there is understanding it and being one with it, and that is what Blondel has seemed to have done. The script is strong and really delivers all the subtle wit of our chaotic hero. At first Elric seems a bit foppish, still cutting a strong figure, but by the story’s end, you believe that the man is a king, especially as he returns from certain death to exert his will over his traitourous cousin Yyrkoon.
Melniboné is a fierce and dark land, one of evil deeds and more fearsome gods like Arioch, the Master of Shadows. This is brought to vivd life by Robin Recht and Didier Poli on pencils and Jean Bastide on colours. From the first page of the book with a look at the very imposing and breathtaking entrance to the Dragon Isle, Recht and Poli give Melniboné and its characters magnificence and a horror previously unseen up until this point in the character’s comic book life. There is grandeur to the work, when even at its darkest and showing the most horrific of acts, is beautiful to behold and grabs you with a power that is amazing to behold. You find yourself inspecting every line of every page, looking at all the small details in the background whether it is just the walls of a cave or the obscenities going on around our characters within the palace. Bastide’s colours are appropriately dark for this entrancing tale, yet extremely lucid when they need to be such as during the biggest moments of the book like the last page illustrates with Arioch’s arrival. If anybody was meant to draw the adventures of Elric, it is these three artists.
What makes this book so wonderful is the reverence that the creators treat the source material with. You can feel it on every page and it ranks among the very best of adaptations to ever make it into a comic book. The horror of Melniboné is present like never before and to finally give a visual that lives up to Moorcock’s vision is great to behold. Sadly this is only the first part of the adaptation with three more to come. While it is nice to hear that there is more to be published with the creative team continuing on, it is also going to be hard to wait for those books to come out, but it will be without a doubt, worth the wait.
5 out of 5