Friday, November 28, 2014

"The Sylvan Elves' Honor" (Elves, Volume 2) by Nicolas Jarry (script), Ginaluca Maconi (artist) & Diogo Saïto (colors)

"The Sylvan Elves' Honor (Elves, Volume 2) / "L'Honneur des Elfes Sylvains"
by Nicolas Jarry (script), Ginaluca Maconi (artist) & Diogo Saïto (colors)
Publisher: Soleil Productions
The review is based on a bought copy of the book
Other titles in the series: "The Blue Elves' Crystal" / "Le Crystal des Elfes Bleus"

Elves receive a special treatment at Soleil Productions, the French publisher of comic books; an entire universe is dedicated to these legendary creatures with five different writers and five different artists to tell their stories. I’m not sure if with the five teams behind the tales the intention of the publisher was to have five albums in this series, I am only certain that number was surpassed and we are talking of an ongoing series of comic books. But without getting ahead of myself, after the first volume, “The Blue Elves’ Crystal”, written by Jean-Luc Istin and illustrated by Kyko Duarte, here is the second, “The Sylvan Elves’ Honor”, with a script by Nicolas Jarry and art by Gianluca Maconi.

A group of city-states driven only by mercantile intentions seek to seize the rights of customs held by the city of Eysine, but when they refuse to wield under their pressure an army of mercenary orcs hired by the group besieges the citadel. With no allies left to stand by the city of Eysine Llali, the king’s daughter, decides to seek help from the sylvan elves, retired within the forests. Hoping to awaken an ancient alliance between the humans and the sylvan elves Llali meets Yfass, an elven hunter, who leads her to his people.

The reader is thrown in the heart of the story from the first panels, with the entire plot revealed only several pages later and until the full scenario is grasped it takes a series of journeys back and forth in time. Due to this approach and the fact that healthy chunks of dialogue are necessary for the whole plot to be set into places makes the unraveling of the tale a slow process. The stage is occupied mainly by the game of politics, played by the involved parties until the extreme consequence of war is brought upon them. Economic interests, old treaties and internal affairs are all important pieces of this assembly. Assassins, magic and a couple of twists and turns are served on the side, adornments making the story more interesting.

However, as it was the case with the first volume of Soleil Productions’ Elves series the limited space accessible for these comics books (little over 50 pages) turns “The Sylvan Elves’ Honor” a story without depth. The mechanics behind the plot are restricted in order to be contained within the pages of the present volume. Even the small elements used in the support of the tale are barely scratched and every single aspect of the story is more left unexplored rather than surveyed to satisfactory needs. I could not shake the feeling that what could have been a captivating adventure becomes just a feeble endeavor because of the very tight space in which Nicolas Jarry has to develop a complete story.

Sadly, for me, neither the art of Gianluca Maconi works in favor of “The Sylvan Elves’ Honor”, most of the panels are unimpressive and there is little to be had out of the illustrations. Despite of a few of them being acceptable and showing promise, from my point of view most of them are rather schematically treated, with no panel being able to hold my gaze for longer than a couple of moments. I was left largely unimpressed by the final result, among the characters, settings and fighting scenes I could find only a few that I liked quite a bit, but I cannot honestly say that the art of “The Sylvan Elves’ Honor” is what I’d count among my preferences. Diogo Saïto’s coloring saves the situation a bit, it sets nicely the tone and atmosphere of the panels, but I am afraid it does too little to shake my general opinion of the comic book’s art.

Although part of a larger series and universe Nicolas Jarry and Gianluca Marconi’s comic book is independent from the first volume, “The Blue Elves’ Crystal”, as each new album of the Soleil ProductionsElves series is, but in comparison with that first entry I felt “The Sylvan Elves’ Honor” took a tumble for the worse. It is not a bad comic book, it provided me with a quick and fun reading, but no more than that and certainly without demanding another one.

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