Page 45 Review by Jonathan
The best slab of Euro-fantasy I have read for some considerable time.
The world is ending, the start of the death of its sun over a relatively rapid thirty or so year span is causing untold environmental catastrophes. Virtually everyone is oblivious to what is happening, but a select few people, such as mystics, scientists and astrologers are aware. There is also a prophecy that the disaster can be averted, a window opened to another world, allowing escape. But only if the prophecy, involving the reuniting of the four swords of glass, comes to pass, of course...
Enter Yama, the tomboy daughter of village chieftain Achard threatening rebellion against the yoke of local warlord Orland. A magical sword falls from the sky like a flaming meteor and embeds itself in the local sacred stone. One of Orland's men, commanded to retrieve it, is instantly turned to glass, and then promptly shattered by his irate leader, incensed that he can't get his hands on this shiny new bauble.
Then, sensing the ferment Yama's father is trying to incite, Orland informs them he will return that evening to take Achard's wife as tribute, simply to teach the villagers the lesson of what happens if they even think of challenging his rule. The villagers immediately fall into line and kill Yama's father to prevent him trying to escape with his family.
Distraught and vowing revenge, Yama runs crying into the forest and thus the glass sword remains there for years, those who try to remove it sharing the same fate as the hapless soldier. Yama, meanwhile, is adopted by a mysterious man, a former general in exile, who trains her in the art of swordplay, and raises her as his daughter. He too knows of the swords and the prophecy.
I have to admit not being familiar with either of the creators. The writer Sylviane Corgiat has done various things for Humanoids before, but nothing that has been translated into English, I think, plus some prose books and also high regarded French television crime drama. Similarly the artist Laura Zuccheri has done loads of acclaimed work in Italy, and it is a constant source of frustration to me how little from that country gets translated into English.
Obviously, with a Humanoids book, much is always expected of the art, and whilst the writing of this work is wonderfully strong, the art is simply spectacular, ligne claire of the highest quality. I can see why Laura Zuccheri has won numerous European awards. Expansive, diverse landscapes, huge fortified cities, elaborately armoured and costumed characters, it's all just so beautifully illustrated. When you see art of this quality you can't help but admire the talent that's produced it, and also be delighted that they've decided to work in the field of comics.
This work collects the four original albums into one lovely hardback and would be highly appreciated by anyone who enjoys well crafted high fantasy or just gorgeous artwork.