REVIEW: ‘Michael Moorcock Library: Elric Stormbringer’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Michael Moorcock Library Elric Stormbringer

The Michael Moorcock Library: Elric Stormbringer is published by Titan Comics. It comes from writer and artist P. Craig Russell, colorist Lovern Kindzierski, and letterer Galen Showman. This hardcover collects a series of seven comics published in 1997. These comics cover the final story of Elric of Melnibone, known as Stormbringer. The story begins with a brief recounting of Elric’s history. Primarily, his early life and rise to prominence as a kinslayer, conqueror, and king.

With the stage set, we then shift to Elric and his wife, Zarozinia, asleep in bed. Though they are dreaming peacefully, this sleep is soon disturbed by the forces of Chaos. In a flash, Zarozinia has been taken, and Elric is left to decide what comes next. Though he is loathed to use it once again, he has no choice but to take up his hated sword Stormbringer and seek out his wife’s captors. But though the quest begins somewhat simplistically, it culminates in a climactic battle of Law and Chaos that will reshape the very world itself.

I am a little embarrassed to say that I had not heard about it before reading it despite the Eisner Award-winning status of this comic series. But I can now safely say that the Elric Stormbringer is well-deserving of that accolade. The story is a faithful and moving adaptation of the novel Stormbringer. In fact, Russell collaborated with Moorcock, the original series’ author, when writing the script for this one. So you can tell that this work is more than just an effort to capitalize on a fantasy name.

The story presented here is one of grim fantasy and anti-heroics. Elric is a fascinating character who uses Chaos and evil to fight for those he loves and cares for. Unlike most stereotypical fantasy stories from the 60s and 70s, Stormbringer starts with a bang and maintains that energy in its pacing. It all feels remarkably classic and simultaneously fresh and interesting. It is also particularly cool to see visualizations of things that have been so influential in other media, especially the clear influence that Elric and his world had on Dungeons and Dragons(D&D). You can even see prototypes of elements such as spells (like Speak with Dead) present in these very pages.

Though this was originally penned and inked in the late 90s, the art still holds up as absolutely gorgeous. The design for Elric is particularly wonderful and manages to convey all three sides of the character. Those of the noble ruler, the tormented man, and the fearsome warrior. This is shown through depictions of him that are both highly detailed and ominously silhouetted. My personal favorite is when he is shown as no more than a shadow with glowing red eyes. The clothing and backgrounds look pulled straight from the covers of 70s pulp fantasy novels.

This is further bolstered by the eccentric but brilliant colors from Kindzierski. These colors show a beautiful world of blended tones and constantly fading light. For example, an ambush in the dusk is shown by orange shadows as if the figures are lit from behind by the setting sun. It all feels very psychedelic but also distinctly fantastical. The letters from Showman are similarly arresting and interesting, though there are a few times when the text is difficult to read due to the lack of black borders for the sake of style. But that does little to detract from the overall reading experience.

The Michael Moorcock Library: Elric Stormbringer is a masterpiece collection. My praise is but a drop in the bucket compared to how lauded this series has been since its initial publishing. If you’re a fan of fantasy, particularly D&D, then this is a must-have for your home shelf.

The Michael Moorcock Library: Elric Stormbringer is available now wherever comics are sold.

Michael Moorcock Library: Elric Stormbringer
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TL;DR

The Michael Moorcock Library: Elric Stormbringer is a masterpiece collection. My praise is but a drop in the bucket compared to how lauded this series has been since its initial publishing. If you’re a fan of fantasy, particularly D&D, then this is a must-have for your home shelf.