19th Sep2014

Graphic Novel Review: Elric Volume 1 – The Ruby Throne

by Paul Metcalf

Written by Julien Blondel | Art by Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, Robin Recht | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardback, 64pp


Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne may just be an introduction to the Albino Emperor of Melnibone but what an introduction it is. Julien Blondel, Didier Poli, Robin Recht and Jean Bastide have converted Michael Moorcock’s Elric to a graphic novel, and what we get is an orgy of blood, violence and nudity that would make Game of Thrones just a little jealous.

Elric sits on his throne seemingly at the end of his life, his energy spent and enthusiasm to rule waning. Typical of Melnibone’s decadent nature war is not far away and as barbarians make their way towards the city Elric’s advisers implore him to destroy the invaders with haste. Rising for battle and calling on gods and demons for strength he may win the battle, but with the real war being against corruption in his own ranks his time as emperor is seemingly at an end.

The artwork in Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne is dark, bloody and full of decadence. Like the last days of Rome, Melnibone has become an over bloated and corrupt society living off past glories and the desire for power corrupts any close enough to stick a knife into Elric’s back. Looking at some of the designs of the characters I can’t help but see resemblances with the style of Clive Barker’s Cenobites, and this is a hint at just how dark Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne is. It’s interesting that Elric as the anti-hero tiring of the constant wars and death is an albino and starkly stands out from the other characters with his pale skin. He is the difference in society and he has made himself the problem, this makes him a target for the power-hungry who see it as being time to remove him from his throne.

Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne works as an introduction to the character of Elric. Even as an introduction though it starts with a bang, violence is sudden and opulence and debauchery is everywhere. There is a certain feel of invincibility within the society of Melnibone and this is its weakness. In ways it makes Game of Thrones seem like a walk in the park, but this signifies the extreme nature that Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne seems to have. This is the point of course which is obvious, when an empire is ready to fall it tends to feel at its strongest, no matter how over bloated and weak it may be Melnibone has reached the point of no return and is destroying itself from within. It is the true end of an empire, which history has shown usually ends in not a whisper but an explosion of bloody violence.

Elric makes choices in Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne that set up things to come and this in many ways feels like the perfect origin story for what is hinted on the pages. It’s not only Elric that is tired with what he sees but gods and demons too. While some work against him others bring power to him, which creates the power he requires to do what he has to do. The teasing of this is well done, but it is a shame that just as things feel like they are picking up pace the end comes. This is of course pushing you to continue reading the next volumes to see where the story goes.

For fans of not only Game of Thrones but also the God of War games and even Lord of the Rings, Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne is something worth having a read of. It’s definitely one for a mature audience as it features nudity and depictions of horror (plenty of gore). It left me wanting to read on and find out what happens to the Albino Emperor so I’m sure it will do the same for you.

****½  4.5/5

A decadent fall into an empire ready to implode on itself. Our introduction to Elric is explosive and bloody, full of gods and demons this is an excellent start to a bloody war. Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne is available in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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