Michael Moorcock’s Elric: Vol. 4: The Dreaming City by Julien Blondel, Jean-Luc Cano and Julien Telo (graphic novel).

Elric: The Dreaming City’ is the fourth and final volume, for now, in this adaptation of Moorcock’s albino hero by writer Julien Blondel, co-author Jean Luc-Cano and artist Julien Telo. Like any serial, they are best read in the right order to avoid spoilers and confusion.

The saga continues. The Young Kingdoms are currently being ravaged by the forces of Melniboné who are looking for Elric to drag him back home. Unknown to the albino, his true love, Cymoril, now rules his people but she’s changed and despises him for his weakness and misguided compassion for the humans. Meanwhile, after his encounter with ancient Melnibonéan Emperor Saxif D’aan, Elric has decided to seek out R’lin K’ren A’a, the ancestral home of his people. In this quest, he will be aided by human adventurers Smiorgan Baldhead, Duke Avan and his crew who are keen to loot the lost city. En route, up a jungle river, they encounter Nuurc, an insect god, master of the million wings. Charmless Nuurc helps them find their destination but, as usual, things don’t go according to plan.

The story rolls along. I recall being very impressed by ‘The Dreaming City’ when I read the prose version and this does capture some of the magic. Not in the same way, but I’m older. I’m also less impressed with the character of Elric. If you had a sword that kept you alive but killed all your friends, every single one of them, would you keep it? The survival instinct is strong in all of us but this seems to take selfishness to new levels. I believe the sword is a metaphor for some other dependency, alcohol or drugs, which do indeed lead to self-destructive behaviour and can lose you all your friends and family. A terrible shame, of course, but it doesn’t make you a hero. Stormbringer does quite a lot of chatting in this episode which amuses me because writer guidelines for fantasy magazines often warn against talking swords. It’s been done!

Regrettably, the art here is not quite as magnificent as in previous volumes. ‘Volume One: The Ruby Throne’ had Robin Recht and Didier Poli doing the pictures and was stunning. ‘Volume Two: Stormbringer’ added Julien Telo to the team but I think Poli was less involved and it showed. ‘Volume Three: The White Wolf’ had Recht and Telo and it was still pretty good. The last one has only Julien Telo with Ronan Toulhoat helping out on storyboard and designs. Don’t get me wrong, the art is still damn good by general standards but comparatively, it seems to have slipped since Volume One. It also looks a bit rushed on the last pages. Deadline doom? According to their bios, all the creators have several projects on the go in film, television, animation and gaming.

The hardback edition is a quality product printed on fine paper with a foreword by Jean-Pierre Dionnet, co-founder of ‘Metal Hurlant’ magazine, and several pages of artist’s sketches at the back. It’s a collector’s item. It’s worth mentioning that there’s a boxed set of all four books coming out in September 2022 in case you don’t have any of them yet.

Eamonn Murphy

August 2022

(pub: Titan Comics, 2018. 64 page graphic novel hardback. Price: £17.99 (UK), $19.99 (US), $25.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-178586-771-2)

check out website: www.titan.com

Eamonn Murphy

Eamonn Murphy reviews books for sfcrowsnest and writes short stories now and then. Website: https://eamonnmurphywriter298729969.wordpress.com/

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