By Sylviane Corgiat and Corrado Mastantuono
If you’re in the U.S.A. and want to get your hands on some overseas comics, you can’t go wrong with Humanoids’ offerings. The publisher consistently puts out high quality books and the new hardback edition of Elias The Cursed – originally published in France between 2004 and 2007 – is no exception.
Writer Sylviane Corgiat and artist Corrado Mastantuono deliver high adventure in this epic tale of sword and sorcery. From the outset we are thrust into the story and brought up to speed on the history of the title character Elias the young warrior king. After several victorious battles, Elias falls victim to hubris in his attempt to concur the evil sorcerer, Melchior. This is ultimately his undoing and after defeating entire armies he eventually loses the fight against a single man. In doing so Elias’ face is literally stolen and he ends up a traveling swordsman with the face of Melchior, his archenemy. Over the next several years Elias sets out to find and kill Melchior in the hopes he will win back his identity. Along the way he makes unlikely companions who, despite Elias’ best efforts, learn his true identity and for various reasons of their own, decide to assist the one time king in reclaiming what is rightfully his.
Elias The Cursed is a traditional fantasy story reminiscent of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Monster, but with more giants, wizards, goblins and other magical creatures. It’s really fun, and action packed, but ultimately does not lend anything new to the genre. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and the story manages to feel original all the same. While Elias’ revenge quest may be the primary storyline, Corgiat and Mastantuono create many thoughtful and well-rounded characters in a densely populated world that has been afflicted by the red plague. The plague seems unavoidable, and as it spreads across the land we see ancient magic give way to modern medicine in attempts to find a cure. It’s an interesting plot line as arguments are made for methods of containing the disease until a cure can be found through science. Meantime Elias relies on true magic, a series of talismans, which, once collected in their entirety, will give him the power to undo the events in which he lost his face. Fighting with magical spells is all the one time warrior king knows, and the story goes back and forth until a combination of both magic and science ultimately win the day, such as it is.
At 170 pages, this hardback edition showcases what could easily be described as a well-crafted comic book. With seemingly meticulously constructed panel layouts and a clean, legible lettering style you can’t help but enjoy the reading experience. There are a total of 4 colorists assisting with art chores, although their individual styles never differentiate enough to take you out of the story, and only lend to the overall brilliant design. This book will entertain you as much as it will look good on the bookshelf. Whether you’re craving another sword and sorcery fix or you just want to read a solid non-American comic book, then you cannot go wrong with Elias The Cursed. And keep an eye out for more of the diverse books offered by Humanoids, Inc. It’s a great opportunity to discover talent you may not have otherwise heard of.