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  1. #1
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    Default [Where I Re-Read] Crossgen Comics

    What is this thread?
    A place to post commentary and reviews of every issue I re-read of Crossgen Comics, as the thread title implies.

    What is Crossgen Comics?
    A comic books publishing company that started printing books around 2000 and which went bankrupt a few years later, with Disney eventually purchasing the rights to the characters and such. There was a brief revival under Marvel a few years back, but there was a distinct lack of interest and it got quietly shelved again.

    Still, original Crossgen books tended to have fairly high production values for the time and managed to run things in a shared universe without everything being as convoluted as DC or Marvel (probably by virtue of the company publishing things for a much shorter time and dodging the bullet of continuity creep).

    Why are you reading it?
    I was and remain a big fan of these comics. I have since explored other comics and mangas and whatnot, but other than Asterix and Spanish comedy comics these are probably the things that got me started in this. I want to check how well they stand in comparison to my memories.

    How often will this be updated?
    As often as circumstances allow (in other words, no idea). However, I'll finish the books come hell or high water. Might take a while.

    Just so we are clear, this is something I put in every WIR and WIRR I make. I've yet to finish any of them.

    Spoilers?
    I've already read this stuff. I've got no issue with potential readers (all three of you) discussing things as indepth as they want.

    This is CrossGenesis, essentially a sneak peek for the four monthlies that would become Crossgen's first titles in its shared universe. On its own, it is not much of a read, but it is as good a starting point as any other. See you in the other side.


  2. #2
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    Crossgenesis #01

    Summary: The issue takes the form of a dialogue between two unseen cosmic beings. One bemoans that the cosmic energies of the galaxy are diminishing and blames someone called the First for failing to prevent this. The other replies that these First don't understand the consequences of their inaction and need "motivation" to get moving, so he tells the other to go to some of the many worlds within their reach and mark someone in each of them with a sigil, which will give those marked power and will give these First some much needed motivation.



    Together, these entities visit a world of magicians, a high tech world in the edge of an interstellar war, a world where high tech is disguised under medieval appeareances and, finally, a world of floating islands that has found a precarious balance after a near cataclysm. As they go, the entities decide that they will only empower a limited number of beings, lest their new pawns stagnate like the First have, and tell them nothing, leaving them to blunder their way through things, creating new energy through conflict. Issue wraps up with a self-satisfied entity commenting that he feels things growing warmer with the influx of newly generated cosmic energies.



    Art: There is really not much to comment here. This was a sneak peek, so we mostly get concept art of the worlds in which every one of Crossgen's first four monthlies were set and the main characters of the same. It is nice enough, I guess, but nothing particularly impressive in there.

    Feats: Since I also do respect threads and have long intended to do something like that for Crossgen, I might as well note down interesting things as I read them for later reference. Alas, this only tells us that one of the godly jerks created a number of worlds, including the fake medieval high tech planet.

    Opinion: On its own, it is not much of a comics issue, but I am told that the diversity of character designs and variety of locales depicted in this preview was sufficient to generate a good amount of interest. It also gave us the beginnings of the cosmic metaplot for the setting (that they were starting to wrap up when the company bankrupted) and hinted at enough things that there is a bit more meat to this divine dialogue than one might initially believe.

    Do I recommend this? Only for readers who want to see it all. There is not enough content or enough context for the content there is for casual readers, beyond the artwork.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Factor's Avatar
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    Great thread. I've never read anything from CrossGen but I heard good things. Do the series have proper endings? I might give them a try.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Factor View Post
    Great thread. I've never read anything from CrossGen but I heard good things. Do the series have proper endings? I might give them a try.
    Some do.

    Most got caught to greater or lesser degrees by the rush to wrap things up as impending financial doom threatened to leave things unfinished, as it finally happened to the Negation War miniseries that was meant to finish or at least reset the Sigilverse metaplot.

  5. #5
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    Awesome thread idea. I loved CrossGen too. Looking forward to your reviews. Will you be reading in chronological order, or series by series?

    In fact, do you mind if I steal this thread idea for my own favourite vanished publisher?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arvandor View Post
    Awesome thread idea. I loved CrossGen too. Looking forward to your reviews. Will you be reading in chronological order, or series by series?
    Still trying to decide on that one, actually.

    In fact, do you mind if I steal this thread idea for my own favourite vanished publisher?
    I got the format from a message board elsewhere. By all means, go ahead.

  7. #7
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    Crossgen Chronicles #1

    Summary: In a starry void, two trios of glowing figures meet and after snarking at each other a bit, start discussing the reasons for their meeting. They all felt "something" (that would be the main characters of the four monthlies getting their powers) and fearful of the threat to their existing order that this poses, they eventually decide to ask one of their number (a zoned out old man) to use his powers to show them the new players.



    The old man then shows us a few scenes that happen between issues #1 and #2 of each of the aforementioned series, Mystic, Sigil, Scion and Meridian.

    First we visit the world of Mystic, where a young woman called Giselle is wondering what just left a weird mark in her hand and why her formal guild robes just got turned into rags (she is the lady depicted in the Crossgenesis cover in the OP, if you are wondering). Then, her sister Genevieve shows up, rather cross about the fact that her ascension to the rank of guildmaster has been ruined by her sister and that the magic spirit of their guild has been accidentally absorbed by the sigil in Giselle's hand. Along with those of various visiting guildmasters, which breaks the balance of power in the world and creates the possibility of war, so Genevieve slaps her sister and walks away, telling her to stay put while she solves the mess, as usual. Giselle, kind of angry herself, suddenly manages to do magic for the first time in her life.

    The old man then is ordered to move on to Sam Rey, the protagonist of Sigil, a guy who wakes up in his spaceship and starts mourning the recent death of his friend Roiya. His lamentation is cut short, however, because the ship is under attack and has to rush back to the cockpit, where he encounters two passengers he picked up during the recent planet-side fight in which his friend died, one JeMerik Meer and a for the time being nameless Exotic Beauty (TM). They are being attacked by saurians, the fleet of the planet they just left and soon may be hunted by the forces of the human union that rules the rest of known space. In other words, their ass is grass and everyone wants a piece. Since the autopilot cannot possibly cope with that kind of attack, Sam takes the helm, only to find the voice of Roiya greeting him from the computer.

    At this point, old man oracle gets a 404 error and cannot find Sam Rey anymore, so one of the other gods, Trenin, decides to hunt him down later.

    Next is the world of Scion, where our protagonist Prince Ethan discovers that he now has superpowers (a fancy energy sword) in the middle of a ritual mock duel and accidentally gives his opponent a really ugly scar that blinds the other guy in one eye. Since the other guy was the prince of an enemy kingdom, this immediately triggers a shitstorm of magnificent proportions and people start jumping into the arena to kill him.

    Hoping that the situation with this guy will solve itself soon in permanent fashion, the watching gods shift their gaze towards the world of Meridian.



    There, our recently orphaned protagonist Sephie is adapting to life in the amazingly evil-looking house of her not-at-all-fratricidal uncle Ilahn and trying to remove from her forehead the mark that appeared as she knelt over the body of her dying father. Ilahn then shows up and tells her to stop that. It is a mark of greatness, like the one Ilahn himself sports in his throat now, and he displays his fancy new powers of destruction. After he leaves, however, Sephie decides that she is not sold on the idea and discovers that she has powers of healing and creation, unmaking the damage caused by her uncle. At the same time, a short orange eyed woman mutters that soon it'll be time.

    Although there are yet other sigil bearers unseen, the leaders of the godly trios (white haired lady and blonde good-looking dude) decide that they have seen enough and after making some noise about working together, everyone leaves. Shortly afterwards, however, the cloaked guy and the blonde woman return to the same spot. Even though they are of enemy houses, they obviously love each other and worry greatly about what this development might represent for them.



    Art: Not that great. I am generally less than enthused by the character designs of the First and the pencil work by Claudio Castellini doesn't work well, particularly for the section in the world of Scion, that kept a well defined aesthetic for almost its entire run.

    Feats: The most interesting thing in this regard is our first look at the oracular powers of Orium (old zoned out god) and the resistance of Sam Rey to the same. Of the rest, nothing particularly stands out.

    Do I recommend this? Only for readers who want to see it all. By its very nature, it is not an issue that stands well on its own merits.

  8. #8
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    FORGE and EGDE were two of the best books to ever grace a comic rack.
    Aside from the one Mystic print error that I had to pick up the single issue to read, I loved them.

  9. #9
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    Mystic #1

    Summary: We meet our protagonist, Giselle Villard complaining about magic in the middle of a fancy party, which makes other guests point that that's an odd position for someone from a family traditionally linked to the local magic guild and whose sister Genevieve is going to ascend to the rank of guildmaster the next day, essentially becoming head-of-state-for-life



    Giselle starts talking about how she has her life and her sister her own (her own boring, stupid magic life), when said sister shows up and drags her out of the party to ask her to be presentable at her ceremony the next day, since they are doing the whole thing in a cathedral and there are going to be other heads of state in this whole thing.

    Although pissed at the whole thing, Giselle is suddenly tackled by an orange eyed squit, a local cat/dog thing, and she decides that going home is not such a bad idea after all. Next day, that same squit coincidentally happens to spy on the sisters as they make nice to each other in the cathedral, just before an ascension ceremony.



    When that starts, we are introduced to the other six guild masters attending the ceremony and given some backstory about how the seven original guildmasters joined efforts to battle some creature from beyond their world, managing to gain its power when they won. This allowed them to cheat death by becoming spirits and bonding to every new succeeding guildmaster, to act as advisor and source of additional power.

    Then, as Genevieve starts doing the thing, an strange orange eyed man shows up, congratulates Giselle and shooks her hand. Which causes all seven of the spirits to make a beeline towards her. She tries to make a run for it, but cannot outrun the plot, so eventually she is hit by the spirits and left in the state we saw in her part of Crossgen Chronicles #1.



    Art: Brandon Peterson as penciler, John Dell as inker and Andrew Crossley as colorist deliver fairly good, rather richly detailed artwork. If I were to make a complain about this issue, it would be about the rags costume that seems to have been a prominent element in Giselle's early character design, because that thing is so nineties that it hurts and so deliberately about the cheesecake that it simply fails to work as far as I am concerned. Fortunately, that thing doesn't last long if memory serves.

    Feats: Nothing to say here.

    Opinion: A rich socialite getting superpowers and having her life wrecked is not that unusual an origin story, but the specific spin we see here is still somewhat interesting. There is generally an external enemy in such origins and, while Mystic is not particularly lacking in such things, there isn't the usual quest for personal revenge and the internal battle is perhaps the more important. To some extent, Mystic explores themes of personal improvement and self-worth, with Giselle's personality being her own worst enemy and repeteadly costing her.

    Do I recommend this? Yes. There is not much to fault in the issue and it is the beginning of a tale I personally find interesting, so yes.

  10. #10
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    Mystic was definitely one of the better CG series, and this was a good start. The intrigue and sibling rivalry made me want to keep reading.

    Personally, I always put Sigil ahead of Mystic in terms of reading order. I just feel it makes slightly more sense that way, since Sam was meant to be the leader.

  11. #11
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    Mystic #2-3

    Summary: After the discussion with her sister seen in Chronicles #1, Giselle discovers that the strange critter that she keeps running into can talk. She also discovers that there are now voices in her head, namely those of the guild spirits, who are rather unhappy about being forced to abandon their chosen hosts and sharing headspace with the other spirits. In the plus side, she meets Thierry Chevalier, an artist who is interested in painting her (and in her), but she has a lot of things in her mind and decides to go home.

    https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-h_9sTj4UK...2BHeadache.jpg

    Meanwhile, the foreign guildmasters have retreated to their batcave (the highly exclusive Sanctum of the Masters) to discuss the situation. They are deeply unhappy, since losing the spirits means that they have lost much of their power and most importantly the legitimacy to rule over their nations, so they decide to play the blame game and point the finger at Giselle's sister. After all, everything happened in her ascension ceremony, so she must know what happened. Somewhat reluctantly, Genevieve explains what happened and reveals that the spirits are now within Giselle, who doesn't really want that kind of thing in her life. Magus, guildmaster of the Dark Magi, comments that that's jolly good, since she is not keeping the spirits, period.



    Back with Giselle, she convinces the doorman to teleport her to her apartment with the talking squit, in spite of the building's strict anti-familiar rules. Alas, someone arrives right afterwards. And by someone I mean a horned demon from the netherworld, sent by the Magus to fetch her post haste. The Nouveau guild spirit takes exception to the rough handling of someone associated with his guild and spontaneously decides to cast spells in defense of Giselle, so there is a bit of a fight that ends when the other spirits start giving commentary and make Giselle lose track of things, allowing the demon to choke her unconscious.



    The demon takes her to the Sanctum of the Masters, where the guildmasters and Genevieve confront her. Giselle takes the perceived betrayal of her sister poorly and there is an almost fight between them both, during which a pillar gets turned into so much rubble and a poor overworked infernal minion has to play the role of peacemaker. After some more talking, Giselle asks the masters to take the spirits and the power she accidentally absorbed away, so the guildmasters make an attempt to pull the spirits out of her body.



    When it turns out that the sigil that she was marked with prevents the extraction, Magus decides that trying to kill Giselle is the logical next step, which causes Genevieve to turn against the others. At the same time, the Nouveau spirit decides that he actually enjoys the situation and starts trying to convince Giselle to keep the power, since it will potentially allow her to become the most powerful mystic ever seen in Ciress, and the talking squit shows up (falsely) claiming that the demon brought him to the sanctum too and encouraging her to take command of the power.

    So she does.

    She manages to use the power and magic knowledge of the spirits against their will and using this manages to stalemate six of the strongest sorcerers in her world, until the Nouveau spirit decides that they need to run away and teleports to an alley in Giselle's hometown, leaving Genevieve unconscious in the Sanctum. Coincidentally, a man of wealth and taste is in that same alley, eager to assist the damsel in distress.

    https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LBx6XDg-R...ow%2BIntro.jpg

    Art: Same artistic team as the previous issue, so the same considerations apply.

    Feats: Nothing big at this point, but teleportation is shown to be a common form of magic, and the guildmasters show some of the stuff they can do (energy blasts, summoning of various types of minions and so on), which helps in terms of establishing the considerable power that Giselle commands at this point.

    Opinion: A thing that I don't remember appreciating is that Giselle is a brat in this first story arc. High stress situation or not she clearly cares a lot more about her sister giving her the cold shoulder (and reacts violently to this), than to the massive international incident. It gives me a new perspective on this old material. Also, the grouchy overworked demon was not as funny as I remembered him.

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    Mystic #4-5

    Inside Giselle's head (or the astral plane location that connects to Giselle's head, at any rate), the guild spirits are arguing about the Nouveau spirit decided to help the person that absorbed them all against their will and the spirit of the Dark Magi is particularly livid about it and blows him up. However, since they are undying ghosts, the Nouveau spirit soon reforms and convinces his fellows to wait and see, whether Giselle Villard lives up to the potential she has been granted.



    Meanwhile, in the material plane, the tall and handsome gentleman who just happened to be in the alley Giselle teleported to, introduces himself as Darrow and starts pouring on the charm, big time. Since the lady is still a bit traumatized after the events of the last few hours, she blabs the whole tale about the mark in her hand, the guild spirits and everything else. Darrow seems to find the whole thing intriguing, although the squit seems to hate his guts, and offers to take Giselle to her home in his fancy flying car.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vO_zQ3k2Ep...2BPrisoner.jpg

    Meanwhile, in the Sanctum of the Masters, Genevieve wakes up to find herself a prisoner of the other masters, who don't feel like playing nice anymore and summon imps that form a clone of Genevieve, with which they plan to catch Giselle.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5EYtUxWIbt...BGenevieve.jpg

    Giselle has arrived home with Darrow, after a brief encounter with a Thierry Chevalier who was hoping for a date. The gentleman soon starts giving hints about the nature and potential of the power Giselle now commands and starts by teaching her that she can change her costume at will.

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-3fmOqMp0Tm...ove%2BSwap.jpg

    Since he apparently wants to be helpful and she is both interested and desperate, she starts responding to his advances when they are interrupted just as they are about to kiss by the arrival of the fake Genevieve, who kind of ruins the mood and gets Darrow to leave. Skitter the squit realizes immediately that something funny is going on and tries to get Giselle to listen to him, but he is summarily ignored, and once Giselle is alone, the fake tries to force her to go back to the Sanctum. Alas, she overdoes it and an angry slap reveals what is going on.



    A battle ensues in which the imp swarm forms various monstrous shapes, but Giselle starts using magic without being prompted to and eventually vanquishes the little pests (with some little help from her new talking pet). However, her house is a wreck, so is the adjoining street and the guildmasters don't seem ready to give up about her having their sources of ultimate power, so she decides to take the fight to their home ground. After a quick wardrobe change (the costume she'll wear for the rest of the series), Giselle teleports back to the Sanctum in order to confront her foes.



    The art team seems to remain unchanged and the quality remains very high, with some nicely creepy imagery for the imp clone.

    Feat-wise... there is nothing particularly noteworthy. Darrow teleports some, Giselle does some energy blastage, the guildmasters create their clone with an artifact and keep a powerful magician prisoner against her will, but nothing particularly remarkable.

    In general, the plot keeps moving at a good pace and we approach the end of the first arc of this series with the battle against the guildmasters, while seeding plotlines for later in the form of Darrow. However, I must say that I didn't recall how easily Giselle decides to trust Darrow and that telling everything the way she does here, strikes me as a really, really stupid move. Which I guess fits the internal conflict of this first arc, which is about Giselle becoming something greater than the fairly shallow and fairly stupid person she used to be.

  13. #13
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    Mystic #6

    https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nod9VlcNt...ed%2BFairy.jpg

    We start with a fairy thing being rudely awakened from his nap by Giselle's arrival to the sanctum, ready to do whatever it takes to save her sister and make the guildmasters stop hounding her. Finding the place deserted and thinking that everything is being way too easy, she approaches a figure dressed like her sister, only to discover that the guildmasters are ready for her and wanted to deliver some pre-battle banter in style.



    Giselle makes her way to the battlefield that the guildmasters have chosen through a weird eldritch "place between places", while the spirits in her head argue over whether the poor girl stands any chance at all against their chosen heirs. Eventually, Giselle emerges to discover that 1) the sanctum of the guildmasters is actually built under the surface of one of the moons of Ciress and 2) the guildmasters have prepared for the fight with the most powerful artifacts in their collection.



    Battle is joined and Giselle manages to take out two of the guildmasters, much to the surprise of the guild spirits in her head. Meanwhile, Skitter the squit has gone behind their backs and is trying to assist Giselle's sister, when he is discovered by Mondru of the Astral Guild, who is frustrated about the fact that the other guildmasters don't really respect him and intends to release some frustration by atomizing what he assumes to be Giselle's familiar.

    Alas, Skitter turns out to have some great power hidden within his unimpressive frame and Mondru does a good imitation of a champagne cork, which surprises a fourth guildmaster enough for Giselle to gain the upper hand against him. However, the last two manage to pin her down immediately afterwards.

    Magus of the Dark Magi is about to cut her throat with a sword that will rip Gisell's soul out of her body and banish it to realms of unspeakable torment (guy got kind of stressed about losing his guild spirit, it seems), when Genevieve seems to free herself from her shackles and attack him from behind. While it turns out to be an illusion that Giselle conjured on the sly, she manages to win the fight thanks to this distraction.

    With Genevieve now free and the guildmasters knocked out, Giselle starts wondering where she can go from there. She never wanted power or responsability or any of those things, and doesn't really seem to believe that she is worthy of it, but the Nouveau guild spirit and Genevieve encourage her to embrace it, for she might become the first true mystic that Ciress has ever known.

    Genevieve then suggests that Giselle ought to claim the sanctum from the masters as spoils of conquest, so together the sisters create a magic shield that teleports the guildmasters to their homes in the planet below and grows to span the whole moon, leaving them alone with each other and the sleepy fairy thing.



    Feat-wise, the fight agains the guildmasters is slightly underwhelming. Levitation, some monster summons, energy blasts and somewhat vague magic relics are not much more impressive than the stuff that we had already seen them use, but Giselle in the other hand bats the ball out of the park with her moon-spanning shield spell, which is her big thing in this story arc.

    Art remains consistent and pretty good all in all.

    Early Crossgen titles all followed plot arcs that mostly wrapped up every six issues, to increase the number of opportunities for potential readers to jump into the series. There is a major victory against an external threat with Giselle overcoming the guildmasters and a minor one against the internal conflict, as her connection with her sister improves.

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    Meridian #1

    Summary: The series starts with a couple pages taken from Crossgenesis that establish the setting in which the comic is going to take place, a world of sky islands in which humanity has managed to rebuild civilization after an unspecified cataclysm, and the fact that (uniquely among all the Crossgen titles) this series is going to feature not one, but two sigil bearers.



    After that prologue, we meet a young teenage girl, Sephie, whose adventures we shall be following for the rest of the series. She is watching the arrival of sky-ships from Cadador, a land with a reputation for ruthless trade, which is ruled by her uncle Ilahn, who is coming for a state visit to Sephie's homeland of Meridian, a verdant island of skyship builders. At this point, Sephie remembers that she is supposed to prepare for the reception and runs back home to dress up.



    Sephie's father turns out to be one Turos, widower ruler of Meridian and affectionate father, who is simply delighted to greet his brother. Ilahn, in turn, is rather less enthusiastic and, when Turos drags him for a little private chat, openly disdainful of the "quaint" backwardness of Meridian and his brother's life philosophy. He urges Turos to accept a proposal to unite Meridian and Cadador, but is instantly shot down. This angers Ilahn, who tries to swat away a bird in a rage, only for said bird to explode in a pulse of energy that pierces both brothers. Ilahn is just left stunned and unsure of what just happened, but Turos is more negatively affected. As a result of a weakening sickness, he collapses and soon dies, with his distraught daughter crying over his body, and the power that had just entered his body passes to his daughter



    A still devastated Sephie is sent to her room to rest and recover, while Ilahn decides that the power vacuum is the perfect opportunity to set certain plans in motion. It is revealed that rather than a sickness, Turos had been poisoned on Ilahn's orders by a servant who makes the mistake of demanding a better reward. This angers the minister of Cadador, who discovers at this point that his fury unlocks the power to destroy with a touch of his hand. Realizing that this likely means that Sephie has gained powers of her own, Ilahn sends the servant to kill her while she sleeps.

    Alas, Sephie defends herself with her powers and the servant is killed when Ilahn shows up to "protect" his niece. After she recognizes the now dead servant, Ilahn sweet-talks her into leaving Meridian, for her own protection, and they both run away in the night. Maybe out of spite towards Turos, maybe to fool any possible pursuers, an oil lamp is broken by Ilahn on the way out and Sephie's house is burned down.

    Art: Not that great, actually. The use of colour is fairly effective in terms of mood, but the lineart is stiff and a bit wonky. This is particularly surprising considering the quality that is to come in this title and the names of the artists involved. Joshua Middleton was the penciler for this one and his post Crossgen career involves a lot of great work for DC, whereas Michael Atiyeh delivered some very nice stuff while working for Dark Horse in their Star Wars titles.

    Feats: All in all, very minor showings that only establishes the absolute basics of the powersets in play.

    Opinion: In opposition to the somewhat lackluster artwork, the writing is pretty tight. We establish a lot about the setting, our main character and the primary antagonist of the series, as well as various hints of things that will yet take a while to Other characters are a bit two dimensional at this stage, but that's only to be expected. The use of Sephie as narrator is inspired, since it helps give everything here a strong melancholic tone, and I also greatly enjoy the draconic overtones I see in Ilahn's character (wrathful, covetous, now armed with his fires of destruction...).

    Do I recommend this? Without a doubt. It might be pretty formulaic so far, but female characters usually don't get the whole hero's journey treatment, and in the whole I'd rate Meridian as the most thematically interesting of the early Crossgen titles.

  15. #15
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    Love the thread can't wait till you get to a few titles I was a little more into Crossgen wise (Negation, The First, Scion) but appreciate the overview on the books I skipped. It gives a fuller understanding of the universe.

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