Artesia issue #1.
Published by Sirius Entertainment in 1999.
Story Written & Drawn by Mark Smylie
The Story :
"Walking The Line"
A battle for the control of surrounding lands is at hand. Beginning with a group prayer for the company of soldiers is lead by Artesia, their captain. The battle is a swift and quick one with Artesia leading her company to victory. The day is won with it's conclusion of the king she faced, acknowledging her victory. After this, Artesia casts a spell to see the sisters of the goddess of death collecting the fallen from the field. Artesia is alarmed at first for having seen not just the sisters, but also the goddess of death herself. Artesia is told to not feel fear by the goddess herself. She does not mind Artesia witnessing her actions or appearance. Plans are made by Artesia and her company and fellow captains to gather again as the war has not yet ended and fears of loss still run amongst her lieutenants. With the preparations made, Artesia returns home to her king whom is also her lover, to present the spoils and the hostages of the battle to him.
He's pleased with these results and asks her to stay instead of returning to the war, but she tells him that she will have to leave shortly as she is needed for the war for it to end in victory. She then goes and meets with her fellow concubines. They are all happy to see her, but saddened with the news that
she's leaving again and before any celebrating can be done. Lysia, an older woman enters the room. She tells all of them of having seen the future and that it does not bode well for any in the room. Artesia leaves, wondering if she'll ever return. She notes, despite their attempts to conceal themselves, a group meeting with her king clandestinely. She suspects correctly that they are worshippers of the sun king. She is a follower of a celestial goddess and a priestess of in fact. That celestial goddess whom is publicly worshipped in her king's lands. The sun king worshippers call her and her late mother witches, heretics in their view and thus evil. They proclaim that her king is freeing himself of her and her bewitching of him by secretly moving to worship the sun king and join in their empire. Artesia begins to plan for tomorrow and what it could bring to her.
The Review :
The story was a dry one, but an interestingly complex one. The world presented here is one that's a mesh of old European and of old Asian pre-Christian like religions plus an almost veiled Christian one. The characters are simple so far, I found, and with this issue did little to scratch the surface for any interest. It's really just a running start of a larger story that leaves you wondering just what is going on. I found it to be not a badly done story in and of itself, but perhaps it would be better in a graphic novel format then as a stand alone issue. The character of Artesia is the only one really fleshed out of all the ones present. There was enough to leave a good deal more to learn about them and their world. All together, the story was a little flat but possessed possibilities for the future.
The artwork was beautifully detailed, almost illustrative with the armor, weapons and backgrounds, but
with an almost cartoonist like simpler style for the people themselves. The line work is smooth without too much polish, I thought it was enjoyable to look at. It was not to heavy nor too lite, but clean and solid. However, the characters faces would have been a little hard to distinguish if not for the colouring, the hair styles and a few other details added in to differ them. Pretty in all, but a little wooden at times, I think. Over all, very nice to look at and reminded me of some European art work that I'd seen in the old Heavy Metal comic magazine. I liked it.
Over all, I liked what I saw and read, but have to admit that it was a very dry one and not that great a catch for a new read. Unless you are looking for something a little different then just the average comic fare of super heroes. It would prove to be a graphic novel, complete with rich with planning. I found it was like reading the opening chapter to a novel, a rather long one. I liked it as it managed to hit the right spot for me, as I tend to like something a little different from time to time. The main character of Artesia and her world was an intriguing one for me, I found. The story itself was not a big pull, but I suspect that has more to do with it being more a story to read as a whole then as a part and by itself. If you like the types of stories you find/found in Heavy Metal plus like sword and sorcery genre, this could be for you. Note please, that while I say the art and story can be a bit wooden, this is an attractive package and is more like digesting a well prepared meal instead of a fast food burger.
For more information on this series - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artesia_%28comics%29