Pullbox Reviews: Le Fay #1- She ain’t no hero…

You know the story… In days of myth and legend long gone, the wicked Morgan Le Fay betrayed her half-brother, King Arthur, which led to his death at the hands of Mordred. Not satisfied there, she then turned on the man who loved her, Merlin the magician, in an attempt to usurp his power. Her betrayal backfired, as Merlin stripped her of her powers and left her entombed in prison where she would sleep for eternity. Now, the world waits for the return of Arthur Pendragon, the Once & Future King, who legend says will arise when he is needed most. With the mighty sword Excalibur once more in hand, he will lead humanity into a new Age of Legend!

Let’s back it up a bit. This isn’t that story…

Imprisoned in her mystical sleep for fifteen hundred years, give or take, Morgan Le Fay has been discovered & restored to a shadow of her former glory by a cabal of powerful beings calling themselves the Triple Moon. For no less than thirteen years, Le Fay will serve this group, and at the end of that service she will be given the means by which she can restore her power. Until that time, she will be their trouble shooter, on call 24/7, no job too big or too small. The Triple Moon’s very own private investigator.

Gonna be totally honest here, we’ve got no shortage of urban fantasy stories featuring hard bitten private eyes able to wield arcane forces as readily as a sarcastic quip. Book shelves are lined with them, featuring wizards and witches, vampires and werewolves, beings of fae origin and fantastic power. They’re gritty heroes, willing to stand up in defense of the little guy, opposing all those who would attempt to wreak havoc in a world teetering on the edge of chaos.

Hold on. This isn’t that story either…

First off, Morgan Le Fay isn’t anyone’s hero. By her own admission, her loyalties begin and end with her period of servitude to the beings of the Triple Moon. The minute that’s over and her powers are restored, once she’s returned to her former glory, it’s right back to business as usual. She’s not out to save the world, rescue kittens from trees, or help little old ladies cross the street. Morgan Le Fay’s biggest aspiration is to be one of the aforementioned enemies of all that is good in the world, and her motivation is purely self-interest…

Hey, least she’s up front about it.

In the realm of urban fantasy, readers do have a bit of a glut. These days there has to be some kind of spin, a new element introduced to the formula for it to stand out from the herd. What works great with Le Fay is that the title character isn’t one from whom we’ve generally seen in the role of protagonist. Credit creators/writers Marcel Dupree & Joshua Metzger with stepping outside of the box and placing a legendary villainess front and center, and squarely outside of her comfort zone. Dupree & Metzger establish Morgan’s place in their story, starting with a nice little summary for anyone not familiar with Arthurian legend, and then leading her right into an old-fashioned murder mystery. They give Morgan a voice that’s perfect for her current place in the world, where she’s fully cognizant of her situation, what she’s lost, and she’s not the least bit happy about it. The dialogue is sharp, dry humor seeded liberally throughout the issue without getting too thick or over the top, and presents the diabolical Morgan Le Fay in such a way as to let readers relate to her.

Highlighting all of what’s already good in this book, the outstanding work of Miguel Angel Ruiz should be on display for all to see. From the opening page, free of dialogue and laying out the events into which Morgan is about to become involved, to the recap introducing the fall of the former Queen of the Fae, Ruiz’s illustrations have all of the snap and polish one might expect from a large mainstream publisher. If I’m being honest with my opinion, it’s easily on a par with what’s being put out by some of the higher profile talent out there. In the realm of character design, and keeping in mind that there are some pretty interesting characters in this book, Ruiz gives everyone something that sets them apart and makes them special. By way of action, displayed very well in the flashback battle between Morgan and Merlin, he has a great sense of dynamic motion in the application of violence both physical and mystical.

Putting a big ol’ feather in the redcap that is the visual appeal of Le Fay, the team is rounded out by Vittorio Astone on colors, and Justin Birch on lettering. Astone compliments the illustrations beautifully, with some pretty slick lighting effects, and an excellent use of shadows that gives the book a great sense of depth. Finally, Birch’s work in the lettering does everything it’s supposed to do. He doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to get cute in the dialogue balloons, something that happens from time to time when a letterer is intent on showing off a little. He does, however, spend a little more effort in associating the narrative boxes with the particular character giving narration. Likewise, Birch gives the sound effects a touch of creativity… sure, machine gun fire remains the obligatory “RATA-TAT-TAT-TAT”, but there are some shenanigans happening off-panel that are handled with a hint to the graphic nature of the violence in progress.

I’m a fan of urban fantasy. Have been for years, happy to pick up everything from Laurel K. Hamilton (at least her first six books or so) to Jim Butcher (still waiting patiently… or maybe not so). There’s something very cool about taking beings out of legend, ancient and immortal, and bringing them into the modern age. Some attempts are better than others, but I’m generally more than willing to give them a spin. I’m happy to report that Le Fay from Evoluzione Publishing, still relatively new to comics but making a pretty impressive mark, rests comfortably in the category of very good storytelling. Fans of the genre should definitely be taking this one out for a spin.

Final Score: 9

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