Tag Archives: pepic & kraus

The Third Testament (Volume 1): Marc, the Lion Awakens Comic Books | My Reviews 27 APR 2009

The Third Testament Volume 1At the dawn of the fourteenth century, a disgraced inquisitor and his young disciple find themselves at the heart of a struggle for power between medieval Europe’s occult powers. From the roofs of Notre Dame to distant abbeys, they embark on a quest for the greatest mystery of all: The Third Testament.

Their mission is fraught with danger as everyone who knows of its existence is ready to fight to the death to recover this Testament, a scroll which could very well herald the start of a new Apocalypse. Quite simply, it is the light which will bring those who have strayed BACK to the True faith.

The Third Testament (Volume 1): Marc, the Lion Awakens is part one of a fantastic four part Franco-Belgium comic book series, written and illustrated by the talented pair of Xavier Dorison and Alex Alice. The series was first released back in 1997 in Europe, but only reached us locally here in 2004 thanks to the small-time publisher, Pepic & Kraus, the same house that was responsible for bringing the first Lanfeust print to our shores.

The genre is best described as medieval mystery, and the story itself takes place in the early1300s, a dark time for Europe when a corrupt Church was all powerful and the dreaded inquisition prowled people’s nightmares. The plot revolves around a mysterious scroll that appears to be wanted by all, and wanted badly enough that murder is merely a step in reaching that goal. A young woman named Elisabeth becomes embroiled in its saga after her high-ranking, adopted father is murdered and an old comrade of his resurfaces from the past, seemingly summoned thanks to the mystery that Elisabeth’s father had uncovered just before his death.

Now hunted by the law and by what seems to be the very Devil himself, Elisabeth and Conrad, the mysterious Count of Marbourg, race against time and their pursuers in order to solve the mystery of the mysterious scroll and take vengeance for her father’s murder.

Dorison lays out a very tightly scripted, well guarded and intriguing opening volume to this rather engaging saga and his writing seems to come through quite naturally and unforced. However, unfortunately as all I have is the English translation to go on, I can’t really comment much further than this on his particular writing skills.

Alex Alice on the other hand I can speak for days on. His particularly beautifully rendered visuals, especially his mountain and forest vistas, appear throughout the book and although his pencils are fairly simple in the number of lines on display, the magnificent blend with subtle and very clever, effective matt colouring makes for an absolute visual treat. His characters are all well drawn and kudos must be given for some brilliantly sketched horses in action, and then there is his knack for constantly shifting the camera angle over the length of any single page, moving effortlessly from high eye-in-the-sky shots to tight, close quarter angles, but always laying his images out in such a way that you never feel lost, even for an instant.

In short, this appears to be the start of an absolutely fascinating saga, one which I hope to one day be able to read in its completeness. The medieval mystery genre is a historical period and genre mix that American writers seldom explore, all of which makes The Third Testament (Volume 1): Marc, the Lion Awakens that much more of a thoroughly intriguing and enthralling read.

Definitely recommendable then.

The Third Testament Volume 11

Lanfeust of Troy (Volume 1): Magohamoth’s Ivory Comic Books | My Reviews 29 MAY 2008

Lanfeust of TroyOn the world of Troy, most humans have a single magic power. Each power is unique to the person and includes such diverse feats as walking on water, personal teleportation, and causing thirst in others. However, none can use their power unless in the close or remote presence of a sage of Eckmul, Troy’s truest version of a studied magician.

Lanfeust is an orphan and an apprentice blacksmith who can heat metal at will. His adventure begins when he’s asked to mend the sword of a passing aristocrat. When handling the sword’s pommel, which was made of ivory from the Magohamoth – a legendary magical beast – Lanfeust gains the power to use any power known in Troy, more so without the presence of a sage. Nicolede, both the local sage and Lanfeust’s future father-in-law, persuades Lanfeust to accompany him and his daughters C’ian and Cixi to the University of Magic in Eckmul in order to learn more about this phenomenon.

Of course, while life is fairly safe and tranquil in the magic-laced villages of Troy, outside the villages it is a completely different story and Lanfeust and his travelling companions (including a newly turned troll) are soon involved in both desperate flight and fight as they struggle forth towards their final destination of Eckmul!

Lanfeust of Troy is one of the most successful comic book series to come out of France in the last couple of years and is written by Christophe Arleston and illustrated by Didier Tarquin.

As you have gathered by now, Lanfeust of Troy is firmly set in your traditional sword and sorcery fantasy mould, though it does take on a uniquely European feel to the various settings, interactions and environments which is a nice change of pace from the usual American fare we have access to. Arleston’s writing is a work of pure fantasy interlaced with loads of subtle and sometimes not so subtle humour, making it an absolute treat to read. The situations and interaction between the various characters makes for an enjoyable ride, particularly the way in which the insufferable vixen Cixi teases Lanfeust every step of the way. There is a fair bit of visual violence and gore you must be warned, but usually this is done in such a way to make it part of the fun. The story is well paced and sets us up for a great series that is surely to follow.

With regards to the artwork, Didier’s pencils feel a little rough in places and sometimes he doesn’t quite seem to get the character expressions exactly right, but there is an unmistakable ‘humanness’ to his characters who are all extremely expressive and instantaneously loveable. His line work is pretty solid and the amount of detail pushed in everywhere is superb. His creature designs in particular need special mention because he has to come up with a lot of weird and wacky specimens to inhabit the world of Troy and some of his designs are simply magical – even his dragons don’t look like anything you’ve seen before! His layouts and pencils remain clear and crisp throughout the volume which serves to make Lanfeust both look good and easy to follow at the same time.

Overall, Lanfeust of Troy: Magohamoth’s Ivory is a great start to what is going to be a great fantasy-fuelled comedy romp that both looks great and will have you chuckling aloud to yourself almost all of the way. This is definitely one of the better strips originating from mainland Europe and makes for a nice change of pace from all the American stuff that we usually only have access to.

(And as a further bonus, you can pick it up for cheap here in SA thanks to Pepic and Kraus publishing house having picked it up, promising that more will follow. Well worth it!)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanfeust_of_Troy