Elric: The Balance Lost #6A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Elric and Friends and Corum and Company must reach the city of Tanelorn to either restore the balance between Law and Chaos, or in Corum's arena dispense with it entirely. This is another issue where the art saves an otherwise boring chapter. The plot's in a deliberate holding pattern, and this is a long haul to group the characters and move them from Point A to Point B.
Roberson opens the book promisingly with a look at the other incarnations of the Eternal Champions and their different reactions to the merger of worlds. Roberson includes Jerry Cornelius among the lazy group, and that's surprising. I could have sworn that Cornelius was one of the few characters not associated with this particular Moorcock cycle. Oh, well.
Roberson segues to Elric and Friends on a leisurely walk to the Ornithopter. Demons block their path, and there's bloody mayhem to follow! No. Roberson instead cuts to Corum and Company, which includes thick and whiny Eric Beck. Fortunately, Bloody Mayhem Follows! No. Sadly. No.
Corum and Company as well take a liesurely walk to their mount Splendid Mane. So, what we have here is a juxtaposition of walking followed by travel. Corum doesn't even contend with demons in order to reach his horse.
When Roberson returns to the mid-battle pitting Elric and Friends against the demons, it's too late. With the momentum diminished, the skirmish loses impact and generates little galvanism. There's a moment where Dorian Hawkmoon literally cuts a demon in half, but it's all for naught. The pacing is gone, but there is some humor to be had, and it's this wit that gives the writer his best scene.
Had Roberson dived into--dare I say--the Bloody Mayhem immediately the plot would have gained energy. As it stands, these scenes are merely out of context interesting from a purely visual standpoint.
This brings me to the constant vigil of Francesco Biagni and Stephen Dower. Elric is a gorgeous book because of these two, and were they not forced to draw scenes of walking, at least the body language is nice, they would be drawing excitement from every scene, sort of like the premiere.
Instead, the art can only be appreciated through a disconnect with the sagging plotline. Biagni's imagination appears to know no bounds. His layouts create an appealing aesthetic, and his sense of grandeur combined with Dower's colors makes the book epic.
Now that everybody is where they need to be, I hope that Roberson starts speeding things up. We have the promise of grand battle, the last thing I want to see is Elric and Friends and Corum and Company shirking swordsmanship for a sashay on the boardwalks of Tanelorn.
Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.