Sunday, February 1, 2015
Marada The She-Wolf by Chris Claremont and John Bolton
Written by Chris Claremont
Illustrated by John Bolton
$24.99 ($16.99 from Amazon)
8.9 by 11.9
The cover for Marada the She-Wolf is a piece that looks like it could come from any classic sword and sorcery tale with a feisty antagonist battling against some otherworldly tendrils while an ally looks on helplessly from the background.
This book is from foreign shores (England I believe) as evidenced by the odd product dimensions. In a way, that's a good thing as it's taller than many standard products and the painted full color art only benefits from the increase in standard size.
I grew up on Chris Claremont comics in the 80s by the name of the X-Men. I also remember John Bolton's art from a comic called the Black Dragon. It was a fantastic adult take on Arthurian mythos and did a nice job of things. I had not heard of Marada the She-Wolf before but it sounded intriguing. Somewhat of a sword and sorcery take of things.
As I get older though, I find myself changing in how I look at the way things are worded. For example, "the she-wolf". Perhaps meant to provide some kinship from a word play to a certain she-devil with a sword.
But if you looked at Marada, would you be like, "Man, it's a she-wolf!" Would you have to add the "she" part? I know it was written many moons ago but it just strikes me as amusing these days. The character's concept is so tied into its being a woman that it HAD to be identified as such. "CONAN the He-Wolf." Sounds like nonsense right?
The other problem I have is that there's all these introductions in the book that talk about how independent and powerful and raw and primal Marada is. Does that prove itself in the actual story?
Starts off with Marada being a docile creature freed from slavery after she's been physically and mentally raped by demons. ESSENTIAL to any story of a She-Wolf right? I mean without the rape how would we know that she is raw and primal?
Another story has her 'die' to fool some demons but it's okay because the person who did it really loves her and is protecting her from those bad people.
There are only a handful of completely adventurers here as it was something that was always meant to get back to. In those stories Marada is captured several times but the good news is that she escapes and manages.
It's a product of it's time I.
I have much the same feeling of Jirel of Joriy. I remember being a young man and thinking, "Wow. So here's where a female Conan/Elric/Fafrd is eh?" and reading it and was like, "Uh... no. She does little under her own agency." Don't mistake me, Jirel is important more as a historical book in breaking a lot of barriers, but I bet there could be an anthology of short stories down on Jirel today that would actually make Jirel an action character who doesn't rely on weird things happening around her or other people's power to get done the things that need done.
The good news about Marada the She-Wolf?
The art of John Bolton.
There's a full page of Marada in the swamp with bow held at the ready. It's a fantastic piece and wouldn't be out of place in any fantasy game or as art in and of itself.
The book is filled with such pieces. Each one fit to provide inspiration for the imagination of any fan of sword and sorcery style illustrations. The vistas range from Arabic stylings to African hunting plains and Bolton does a fantastic job of capturing each landscape as though he had been there.
The writing and the story telling are the old archetypes of the 80s but the art is timeless and for the price, well worth the having.