Friday, May 15, 2015

Aria 13 - The Cry of the Prophet, Quick Comic Review

Plot, pencil and ink by Michel Weyland.
Dialogue and colour by Nadine Weyland.

I'm doing a review on the thirteenth Aria album without having read the first twelve. This might seem a bit out of the ordinary, but I'm on a serious budget and this was the only Aria album I could get my hands on for the moment so you're just going to have to live with it. Not that it matters that much, because save for a couple of throwbacks to earlier issues the story is quite episodic in nature.

The title, 'Le Cri du prophète' / 'The Cry of the Prophet', is a clever and cool sounding nod to the plot. Sadly, the title loses it's clever touch in the Dutch/Flemish translation, which is titled 'De Stem van de Profeet', meaning 'The Voice of the Prophet'. It is as if whoever titled this didn't actually bother to read the story, because that one word changes a lot.

The overall plot, although not all that clever and at times quite predictable, is fun. In other words, if you're looking for the next Conan or Elfquest, keep on looking. But if you're content with swashbucklin' action, welcome on board. That's not to say that the plot isn't engaging, by the way. It just isn't anything groundbreaking. There is this one awesome thing that happens in the third act though, but I'm not going to spoil any of it here. The main characters are generally likable and the side characters aren't cardboard cut-outs. The dialogue by itself, that is to say taken speech bubble by speech bubble, is fine but it jumps around quite abruptly. The resulting tonal shifts can at times be somewhat jarring. This abruptness seems to be the norm rather than the exception. Not only in the shifts between dialogue, but also within the handling of situations. For example, after a two page flashback the story starts out with Aria walking towards her companion's tent. It is early in the morning and Aria has just finished her breakfast. Her companion seems to be in the process of waking up. Aria's very first words to her (roughly translated from the Dutch/Flemish version I'm reading from) are: "Not feeling any regret about leaving Glore as well yet?" Hey now, lady, how about saying good morning first? Maybe talk about the weather for a bit? Jeez.

The art is passable. The inking is an a short stroke style that is pretty cool most of the time, but weavers into cheesy territory from time to time. Although that is of course a matter of taste. The colouring is great and really captures the right atmosphere at any moment. The design on Aria feels a bit off. The comic is from 1990, so I'll forgive the hair, but her getup doesn't seem to very practical at all. In fact, her outfit is a bit skimpy, which I guess is the point, but still. There is even a panty shot in one panel, but then again, with a skirt that high, how can there not be? Weyland's drawing of male faces is also questionable, as he draws many of them with a Neanderthal-like brow. One thing he does unquestionably succeed in however is the fact that he draws a great variety of faces, all easily distinguishable.

If you like 'Xena: Warrior Princes' (you should, its an awesome show), this comic book might be for you. I'm not just saying that because of the obvious (lone warrior woman roams the land in a nondescript medieval-esque 'long ago' era, fights for the oppressed. She even has a short haired female companion called Ganiéle in this book), but because the plot seems like something that could easily have been an episode on the show.

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