Ravine

Ravine vol. 1
by Stjepan Sejic and Ron Marz

Stein wants to track the dragons back to their nesting grounds. If he can harvest their cast-off scales, he’ll be rich enough settle down and stop adventuring. It’ll take trickery and more than a little luck to pull off this one last score.

Lynn achieves her life goal of becoming a dragoon, a dragon rider. She needs to go back home to Dregya and rule as queen soon, but first she has the chance to draw a weapon from the faetree.

Aertes, the goddess who does not listen, has chosen both, though. They will be Wanderers, those chosen by fate to create chaos and a new world, whether through birth or death.

Meanwhile, the god under the Mountain stirs… he wants freedom, and his followers grow in number daily. They may stage an uprising soon. Good king Godwyn must make alliances to keep power… even if those alliances may lead to slippery ground. And an old evil stirs, creating new creatures even more fearsome than the dragons…

“I’m not a bad guy! Pay no attention to those tentacles…”

Ravine is the first volume in a new series co-written by Sejic and Marz, with art by Sejic. I am wary of any comic series written by an artist; they often simply become showcases to show off artwork. Yet, Marz is a great writer. He penned Scion and Sojourn for CrossGen Entertainment, as well as created Green Lantern Kyle Raynor, my personal favorite of the Green Lanterns. Marz has built up a lot of trust.

Although I’ve never read anything with Sejic’s art (that I can think of), it’s clear he has real talent with the digital brush. He can handle faces, which not every digital artist does well. His poses are more dramatic than natural, but I didn’t find any of the positions overly staged (another threat from digital artists, it seems).

Dragons? Where? Oh, that’s no big deal. I’ll just stroll along and whistle…

The art here soars. It tells the story it intends to tell. We can read facial expressions and understand the thoughts and emotions behind each expression. The creatures are grand and diabolical in turn.

The creature designs are also just plain neat. Seen here: a dragon-human hybrid known as a Shiva.

I’m not as sure of the writing. We have volume one in what is clearly a complex story. There are so many moving pieces here that either I’m about to embark on a truly epic quest on the level of Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time, or it’s all going to fall apart under its own weight. Marz has some good writing chops and can handle himself in the fantasy genre – seriously, check out Scion. That series died well before its time. This is a touch more ambitious than what I’ve read from him before, though.

The worldbuilding is fantastic, and even tertiary characters have great lines that give them real life. A soldier, at least at this point a basic placeholder, is on duty when his town is attacked by wyverns. He has all of four or five lines of dialogue, but what Marz puts in his mouth gives him a good personality that make you care for him.

This page has a good chunk of narration on it — what you’re seeing is the plain ol’ art. It’s purdy.

The characters are solid and likable, even as they make mistakes. The larger-than-life forces convey both majesty and dread. My only concern is the extent of the world. Sejic and Marz really have done a fantastic job at world-building. An appendix in the back of the book gives some neat details about previous Wanderers, some history of the world, and a short prose story detailing how magic entered this world. They’re not afraid to show the depth of the world. That could either hurt or help them down the line.

This image is from the appendix. They really didn’t skimp on the stuff in there!

I’ve decided to pick up volume two when it comes out. I like the characters, the art, and the world enough to return. Honestly, volume one is worth the purchase if for no other reason than the artwork. I’m not much on art – I get comics more for the story than the pictures – but this stuff is pretty beautiful. Check it out!

This is just fun.

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