Conflict of Conscience
Edition: bigger than a paperback, smaller than a standard
comic book, able to fit in no man's pocket.
told by several people, and I've read as much over at The
Fourth Rail, that Scion is one of Crossgen's most consistently
well written comics. Since it just got the Traveler Edition
treatment (smaller size, smaller price, extra issue collected),
I picked it up.
is this: Avalon, a world that combines the highest of technology
with medieval mentality, has known peace ever since warfare
had been replaced with ritual combat between the two largest
factions of the planet, the Heron and the Raven Dynasties.
twenty-first birthday, Heron prince Ethan enters the combat
circle, ready to take part in the tournament, but not before
a strange creature emblazons a sigil onto his arm. The very
same red and orange yin-yang that all the Crossgen cronies
have, go figure.
the fight with the Raven Dynasty's champion Bron, the sigil
flares and Ethan gives Bron a nasty scar and a need for an
eye-patch. Accused of using an illegal weapon, Ethan offers
his own imprisonment at Raven hands as a means to avoid war.
arrives in the Eastern lands, his imprisonment is short-lived
when he is smuggled out by a mysterious woman named Ashleigh.
She then asks Ethan to join an underground movement to free
the "lesser races," genetically engineered servants
and creatures made to serve the dynasties who all seem to
share certain traits resembling mermaids, trolls, and Smeagol.
Ethan ponders the question, but must first find his way home
to prevent a war, or at least tip the scales in favor of the
the first to admit that the concept and the story aren't first
rate or too original, but I don't expect the Crossgen titles
to be mind-blowingly good. I do expect them to be solid, though,
and Ron Marz delivers a pretty solid tale of medieval romping
with some neat high-tech nuances. (In lieu of horses, some
people ride genetically engineered lizards, giant cats, and
griffins, not to mention the occasional dragon complete with
onboard computer systems.)
have done some things better. For instance: he really could
have put in more effort to world building. We get only the
smallest sense of what kind of culture this world has; if
the lesser races are truly reviled all over, or whether it
is simply an aspect exclusive to the Raven lands, is barely
addressed. I would have liked to see more about the Underground
and the woman Ashleigh, as Ethan tends to ramble on about
it, yet the reader gets no real information on the movement
because it's just Ethan saying "I feel guilty about not
joining up...but my family needs me
but I feel guilty
glowy thing on my arm itches
Marz does right is give the reader some action. I complained
before that not much happened in Meridian, as per the Crossgen
formula, but Marz managed to fit in a duel, a fun scarring,
lots of Ethan being chased by people who'd like to kill him,
and a full on (albeit brief) medieval clash between the armies
of the Heron and the Raven dynasties. All this while balancing
the story and setting up future plot threads with the introduction
of characters like Ashleigh and the mysteriously shifty, Aryan
poster boy Bernd Rechts. Oh, this guy has "Hitler-esque"
written all over his Teutonic face.
mentioned the art? Because once again, Crossgen shows that
it knows how to hire. Jim Cheung's style is beautiful and
fits the "Sword & Sorcery" feel of the book
like a jewel-encrusted gauntlet. If you combined Terry Moore's
art from Strangers In Paradise with Chris Bachalo's
moody style, you'd get something close to Cheung's work. He's
not real great with facial expression; the characters seem
to range from angry to mildly disinterested most of the time
(I was actually surprised when somebody smiled), but the rest
of the visuals are good enough to overlook it.
it before and it's still true: there's no better value in
comics then $9.95 for the equivalent of seven issues. And
it is a good read.
In a comic
industry where crap comics continue to be published (let's
Marville, Uncanny X-Men, Thundercats, stop
me if you've heard it before), it's good to know there's at
least something entertaining and readable to be found. So
go out (or stay in and use the link provided) and pick up
Scion and save it for that slow week where only one good monthly
comes out and you're chomping at the bit for your three-color-ink
the methadone of modern comics.
Traveler: Conflict of Conscience