Other Nexus Graphica Columns
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Free Comic Book Day
Elric: The Balance Lost
The Adventures Of Jerry Cornelius, The English Assassin
Codename Hawkind: The Sonic Assassin
"The Prisoner of Pan Tang"
The Rise of the Musician-Assassin
"The Entropy Option"
The Saga of the Man Elf
Matthew Ridgway's Erekosë
"Return of the White Wolf"
Prometheus Gets Burned
"Michael Moorcock and the Comics of the Multiverse"
Michael Moorcock Comics Compendium
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1969
Strange Adventures #1
Recent Books of Interest
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1969, Written by Alan Moore, Art by Kevin O'Neill (Top Shelf)
The new 96 page chapter of Moore and O'Neill's acclaimed series finds the immortal trio of Mina
Murray, Allan Quatermain, and Orlando far from the Victorian roots of their previous adventures. Set
in London near the end of the mod-sixties, the group continue their century-long war with Alastair Crowley,
begun in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910. New allies for the League
include Jerry Cornelius and Jack Carter (from the novel Jack's Return Home, popularized as the
Michael Caine film Get Carter). Moore does an exquisite job of incorporating the League
within the chaotic world of 1969. Perhaps the finest installment since the first
series, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1969 concludes with a shocking
turn of events, leaving the reader eager for the concluding book.
Strange Adventures #1, Written by Selwyn Hinds, Tala Hershewe, Peter Milligan, Lauren Beukes, Jeff Lemire, Ross Campbell, Kevin Colden, Paul Cornell, and Brian Azzarello, Art by Denys Cowan, Juan Bobillo, Sylvain Savoia, Inaki Miranda, Jeff Lemire, Ross Campbell, Kevin Colden, Goran Sudžuka, Eduardo Risso, and Paul Pope (Vertigo)
Behind the beautiful Paul Pope cover, Strange Adventures #1, a one shot anthology of science
fiction tales, offers a mishmash of quality and content. The collection begins strong with the
intriguing "Case 21" by Selwyn Hinds and Denys Cowan, a story of tattoos, rebellion, and
betrayal. "All the Pretty Ponies" by Lauren Beukes and Inaki Miranda overcomes a stereotypical
concept with some excellent art and quality storytelling. Jeff Lemire successfully resurrects
a forgotten concept from the Silver Age of DC comics with "Ultra the Multi-Alien." Reminiscent
of The X-Files and Fringe, "A 'True Story' From Saucer Country" by Paul
Cornell and Goran Sudžuka delivers an intelligent, humorous aside. The first chapter of the forthcoming
series Spaceman by 100 Bullets creators Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
provides a glimpse into what looks to be an interesting concept. Kevin Colden's "The Post-Modern
Prometheus," clever and beautifully rendered, delivered the volume's finest tale.
The Illustrated Moorcock
(A significantly different version of this piece originally appeared in Michael Moorcock's Multiverse #6
as "Michael Moorcock and the Comics of the Multiverse." Special thanks to the invaluable
resource Michael Moorcock Comics Compendium.)
Amongst the various releases during May's Free Comic Book Day festivities,
Boom! Studios premiered the initial installment of Elric: The Balance Lost,
the first non-Michael Moorcock crafted Elric comic story in 35 years. Acclaimed
writer Chris Roberson and artist Francesco Biagini usher Elric through his latest graphic epoch.
The White Wolf initially leaped into the four color pages with Marvel's Conan
the Barbarian #14-15 (1972). Plotted by Moorcock and Jim Cawthorn with a script
by Roy Thomas, the infamous meeting between these fantasy titans remains remarkable
largely due to the woefully inaccurate Elric portrayal by artist by Barry
Windsor-Smith. Unbeknowst to most fans, this was not Moorcock's first comic book work.
In 1956, the sixteen-year-old Moorcock supplied the text to Hal Foster's Tarzan
strips in Tarzan Adventures, a weekly boys' magazine containing both text
and comics. With the only English plates of the strip destroyed in the Blitz, Moorcock
worked with the Spanish-language plates. The Spanish-illiterate teen wrote whatever
seemed to fit the illustrations, often including well-known science fiction personalities
of the time as characters.
Moorcock created thousands of pages for Fleetway and other publishers from 1958-1965. Titles
included Sexton Blake Library, Kit Carson, Robin Hood,
Billy The Kid, Karl the Viking, Buck Jones,
Dogfight Dixon RFC (which he co-created), The Life Of Alexander,
Skid Solo, Zip Nolan, Highway Patrol, and
Bible Story Weekly, first on the annuals and then on the weeklies. During
this period, he also edited issues of Thriller Picture Library,
Cowboy Picture Library, and others. Falsely documented elsewhere, Moorcock
never wrote issues of Wrath of Gods, Deathworld, or
The Trigon Empire.
After a four year hiatus, he returned to sequential storytelling
with The Adventures Of Jerry Cornelius, The English Assassin (1969/70)
for International Times, co-written with M. John Harrison and illustrated by Mal Dean
and Richard Glyn Jones. Appearing in Frendz, Codename Hawkind:
The Sonic Assassin (1971), script by Moorcock and art by Jim Cawthorn, related
the fictional adventures of the band Hawkwind.
In 1970, Phillipe Druillet's magnificent Elric de Necromancien (1970)
delivered the first portfolio devoted exclusively to Elric. For the 1973 British edition
(retitled Elric: The Return to Melniboné), Moorcock added
text, transforming it into a graphic novel.
The first Elric adaptation appeared courtesy of Steve Grant and John Adkins
Richardson ("The Fall of the Dreaming City") in Elric #1 (Windy City Publications,
1973). The rarely seen and never reprinted publication also featured "The Gates of Tyranna,"
the first chapter of untitled original Elric adventure by George Olshevsky, Jr. & John
Allison. Grant and artist Robert Gould, who later painted some of the more popular
Elric book covers, produced the new Elric story "The Prisoner of Pan Tang" for
Star*Reach #6 (1976). Also in '76, Jim Cawthorn produced the first
of three adaptations for Savoy: Stormbringer, followed
by The Jewel In The Skull (1979), and The Crystal & the Amulet (1986).
With no obvious relation to the Moorcock anti-hero, the first chapters of Moebius'
classic Le garage hermétique de Jerry Cornélius
(Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius) appeared in 1975 issues of
Métal Hurlant and Fluide Glacial. The use of
Cornelius refers to some obscure in-joke. When Epic reprinted the complete English
language edition of the stories (1988), the JC reference was dropped from the
title and the character's name was changed to Lewis Carnelian.
Perhaps the most inexplicable adaptation of a Moorcock story, the 1975 vision of
the Nebula Award-winning novella "Behold the Man" for Unknown Worlds of
Science Fiction #6 (Marvel) by writer Doug Moench and artist Alex Niño
offered images far more reminiscent of the jungles of Niño's Filipino homeland
than the arid landscapes of the Middle East. To add insult to injury, the cover
spotlights a crucified spaceman, complete with space suit.
Moorcock returned to original comics in 1978 with a new Jerry Cornelius strip
The Rise of the Musician-Assassin (art by Richard Glyn Jones) in
New Worlds #213. The following year, the graphic novel The
Swords of Heaven, Flowers of Hell, illustrated and scripted by Howard Chaykin
from a Moorcock plot, introduced The Eternal Champion Erekosë to the medium.
Starting with Frank Brunner's stellar adaptation of Elric of Melniboné
for Heavy Metal in 1979, the next ten years witnessed a plethora of Moorcock
adaptations, published by Pacific then First Comics. Excellent artists including
exciting newcomers P. Craig Russell, Michael T. Gilbert, and Mike Mignolia presented
their visions of Elric, Corum, and Hawkmoon.
David Stone wrote and illustrated the original Jerry Cornelius tale "The Entropy
Option" in Novakill #1 (Dead Donkey Designs, 1983). Another new story
featuring Cornelius, The Saga of the Man Elf (Trident) by Guy Lawley
and Steve Whitaker, ran for six issues (1989-90).
The first five year period with no Moorcock comics since 1956 ended with the adaptation
of the Elric short story "Jesting With Chaos," scripted by Franz Henkel with painted
art by Shea Anton Pensa and Ted Naifeh, in Weird Business (Mojo,1995). P. Craig
Russell returned to one of his signature characters with the adaptation of the
climatic Elric novel, Stormbringer (Topps, 1997). As prequel to the tale,
Russell re-envisioned Neil Gaiman's prose tribute to Moorcock, "One Life, Furnished
in Early Moorcock," as the comic One Life.
Also in 1997, Moorcock began his most ambitious comic endeavor yet. Serialized in twelve
issues, Michael Moorcock's Multiverse (Helix/DC) delivered three unique
tales per issue, each by a different artist and focusing on different characters, that
eventually dovetailed into one cohesive storyline. "Moonbeams & Roses," illustrated
by Walter Simonson, takes place in the Terminal Cafe and starred Jack Karaquazian,
Rose, and Sam Oakenhurst. Envisioned by Mark Reeve, "The Metatemporal Detective"
focuses on Sir Seaton Begg and Dr. Taffy Sinclair. Elric anchors the third
segment "Duke Elric," drawn by Mark Ridgway. For the complex tale, Moorcock
incorporated many aspects from the previous forty years of his Multiverse.
From 1999-2001, Matthew Ridgway chronicled the adventures of Erekosë. The Elric
western "The Ghost Warriors," received the graphic treatment as "Return of the White
Wolf" in Digital Webbing Presents #6 (2002), courtesy of a Moorcock script
and art by Vatche Mavlian. Cornelius returned in 2002 with the online Manik adaption of
the novel The Final Programme, the five-part miniseries Midnight Kiss
(Markosia, 2005-7) by Tony Lee and Ryan Stegman and 2005's
digital Prometheus Gets Burned by AndroMan.
Alan Moore's pastiche-driven series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
contains several references to Moorcock characters. In Vol. 2, Issue 1 (2002), John Carter
and Gulliver discuss the legacy of Kane (from a trilogy of Martian adventures that Moorcock
wrote as Edward P. Bradbury). The Black Dossier (2007) makes numerous allusions
to Jerry Cornelius, Elric, Gloriana, Monsieur Zenith, Arioch and elements from the
novels Mother London and King of the City. Cornelius plays a prominent
role within Century: 1969 (2011).
Moorcock and Simonson reteamed in 2002 for their contribution to DC's 9-11, Vol. 2
and more prominently in 2004 for Elric: Making of a Sorcerer (DC), a never
before revealed tale of a young Elric. The following year, Moorcock with artist Jerry
Ordway crafted a two part Multiverse story for Tom Strong #31-32 (Wildstorm).
Now after a four year hiatus, Moorcock and his Multiverse return to the graphic
form. Roberson promises that Elric: The Balance Lost will not only feature
the titular character but other aspects of the Eternal Champion including Corum and Hawkmoon. I can't wait.
Copyright © 2011 Rick Klaw
Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied
countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications
The Austin Chronicle,
The San Antonio Current,
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures
RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations
With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains
Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews,
and other things Klaw, Geek
Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century.
He can often be found pontificating on Twitter
and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.