Sunday, June 20, 2004
Kicking off my week of coverage of some of the CrossGen Comics is their most "successful" title, in terms of sales anyway, SOJOURN. Following in the path of stories like the LORD OF THE RINGS series, SOJOURN is a fantasy quest series involving dragons, trolls, wizards and magic items of power.
The initial setup is that the "deux ex machina" power behind all of Crossgen's initial sigil based series grants its power to Mordath a long dead tyrant. Which brings him back to life, and he once again sets about taking over the 5 realms of the planet Quinn.
One of his troll armies kills the family of a female archer known as Arwyn, who vows vengeance on Mordath. She is given the bow of the famous hero of old who vanquished Mordath thousands of years ago, and along with her dog and a rogue known as Gareth sets out to gain the pieces of arrow that killed Mordath. For only its power has any hope of putting an end to Mordath's tyranny once and for all.
On the surface the book seems to follow Arwyn, given that it is her quest for vengeance. Yet the book is much more Gareth's as we see everything from his perspective, as the book uses his internal monologue for narration.
Which is interesting in the respect of showing the hero as someone else sees her, yet a little annoying as well since I never felt like I got to know Arwyn herself.
There are very few books with female leads, and of those even fewer that I would care about given the propensity of "bad girl" books that only care about showing the women's bodies.
Yet this book seemed to promise something deeper to its lead, and I wanted to know more about her. Yet the choice of narrative made that nearly impossible, as just as there is a separation between Gareth understanding her, so too do we as the reader not understand her.
Which I think hurt the book's potential in the long run, because I grew to not care what happened to her on the quest as time went on.
The quest itself takes the heroes to distant lands all gorgeously rendered by the art of Greg Land. Land's art is just simply gorgeous to behold in terms of its beauty in scenery and the way the people are drawn. Which is both a blessing and a curse at times.
The art is too pretty, in a world where evil is only a step away from total domination the beauty of everything made me feel like things were not as bad they should seem. The people too are just too perfect, even the trolls who should be scary horrible beings, have a sort of beauty and majesty about them.
Which made for a sense of detachment for me as a reader, nothing seemed truly horrible so nothing held a sense of danger. Because I couldn't cross the line to care about the characters or story just didn't involve me enough to make me want to read more.
I can see why this was a favorite so many of the CG faithful though. Land's art is enjoyable to look at, if not suited exactly for the story. The covers along show off how great of a pin-up artist he is, with many covers with Arwyn and other female characters in exotic locales and attire. And there are enough mixtures of the overall CG universe background to make readers involved in that happy
Yet it just never quite gets to the level of involvement that would require a casual reader to have the intense desire to come back for more. Which is a shame, as the basic setup has such promise, but it never quite gets there. And now with the series having ended and CG likely soon becoming a footnote, it will never reach it.