Elric: The Balance Lost #5

A comic review article by: Ray Tate

The divisions between univeres melt away as the forces of Chaos and Law upset the balance and try to rule the whole enchilada. Can Elric and his other selves, Dorian Hawkmoon, Corum and Eric Beck, stop the walls from crumbling and restore the barriers that hold each cosmos in check? Well, here's a little sample of what impedes their progress.

Elric: The Balance Lost #5

Lord of the Flies

And that, gentle reader, is one of the reasons why I read comic books. Look at that thing. Maybe Ray Harryhausen could create something like that for real, but I live to see things like that, and so few movie or television budgets are capable of producing a fantastic, convincing beast like Beelzebub. Only Doctor Who comes to mind. That thing just reeks of malevolence. You don't even need to read the monster's dialogue to know its intent. Of course, every word fits the monster's millieu, and it deserves the soul-sucking kiss of Stormbringer, Elric's ebony blade.

Elric: The Balance Lost #5

He Blinded Me with Barbarian Science

Elric's ken is one of the things that separates Elric from other sword-slashing adventures. Elric and his Eternal Champion avatars grasp the cosmic scheme better than quantum physicists. He might not be able to give you the mechanics, although neither can cosmic string theorists, but he knew that it was there. He could taste it. He and Dorian Hawkmoon met before. So Elric refers to their encounter in the language and philosophy of a time traveler. That's plainly not what you expect from any sword-wielder. Imagine Conan speaking like that.

The avatars though possessing the similar ability to comprehend the complex, differ strongly in temperatment. Elric is a cynical, bitter pill, although unlike some writers, Roberson is wise to hold back lest Elric turn into a parody of Moorcock's seminal protagonist. Hawkmoon is much more of a swashbuckler and/or knight. Corum is a pragmatist who doesn't have time for Eric Beck's anxieties. In an amusing moment, the blatantly whiny Beck tries to bring his personal conflicts into the plot, and Corum objects.

Elric: The Balance Lost #5

Stop That, Stop That...

It's a superb moment of meta when Corum speaks for the audience and an example of the sly wit at work behind the scenes. Beck's problems arise from being saddled with a sibling, something none of the Avatars had to deal with. Moorcock always presented their lots as lonely ones. Only Hawkmoon appeared to have consistent hapiness in his life. That anomaly prevents the book from ending with a predictable blast from O'Reily's soul-sucking gun. 

Beck's brother is his complete opposite number, and I wonder if the two halves, Law and Chaos, play a larger part in saving the multiverse from folding in on itself. Moorcock's books sometime depend on forging an amalgam. This was most prominent in The Jerry Cornelius Chronicles when man and woman come together, literally. I wonder if Beck and his brother won't end similarly.


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.

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