It was announced at SDCC that ComiXology was going to publish books from Delcourt Group (Delcourt-Soliel in English), a French comic publishing company. To me, this was very exciting. I’ve recently really been curious about the comic book industry in other countries, and this felt like the perfect way to let readers explore what is out there, to explore what’s in the minds of our fellow humans in other parts of the world. Lofty hopes, I know.
Elves is written by Jean-Luc Istin, who has an extensive bibliography in fantasy titles including a series about Merlin, and is drawn by Duarte who has been around since the mid ’00s.
This is where I was concerned about my judgment, so I read a second comic by the translator Christina Cox-De Ravel, which confirmed some things for me. She is a sound translator. Both books had different voices, which is what I wanted to know, and in knowing this, I can give a fair review.
Elves is lacking, in general. It plays at one note from beginning to end. The characters talk . . . a lot, and they talk about exposition only. Duarte does his best to differentiate the characters; the two leads are female. One is a badass and smirks a lot, and the other is younger and smiles more. That was the only thing that helped me eventually tell them apart. For a bit I thought there was only one lead character, because everyone has exactly the same voice, and they all find it very interesting to mathematically explain things.
Elves lacks character. It has plot, but it almost feels like we’re reading a blue print before any construction has been completed. Our two character are elves and they are blue. One is investigating a mass killing. They find a knife dug into the backs of one of their fellows, and it belongs to a human clan that they do not have good relations with. NCI Elves plays out between characters that only feel one emotion – badassery. The other lead elf is going on a mission to recover mythical blue crystals from the bottom of a pool of water from creatures called Myst. The crystal’s and Myst’s backstories are overtly complicated and took several pages worth of exposition to skim the surface, and I was still at a loss. They are apparently quite powerful and can only be used if you are worthy. A little bit happens beyond this, but not much. And, what does happen is pretty dead in the water.
Duarte does a fine job but is given little else to do but to draw the characters glowering, smirking, gritting their teeth, and grunting, and that’s about it.
But, don’t be discouraged. The other book I read through was called Spin Angels, and it was quite fun.