Sword and Sorcery is a genre that’s really come back into fashion these past few years. Thanks to a few big name projects, many a sci-fi/fantasy fan has been getting a Game of Thron-er for all the new tales of this ilk finding their way to the local cinema, comic shop and the small screen. It feels like the perfect time for the return of Marada The She-Wolf. Originally produced for Epic (Marvel’s first attempt at a Creator-Owned Imprint), Marada made her first appearance in1982. The creation of Chris Claremont and artist John Bolton, the character is a take on a Red Sonja-like heroine but set in the days of the Roman Empire. The character had three epic tales throughout issues of Epic Illustrated back in the 80’s but after the Imprint folded in 1986, Marada was no more. Claremont had wished to take the character to other mediums including televsion but nothing materialized. Over the years, Marada is one of the few Epic creations that maintained a cult fanbase. Now, for the first time in almost 30 years, all three stories are collected in an oversized, remastered hardcover collection realeased this past Tuesday from Titan Comics aptly titled Marada The She-Wolf, giving both long time fans a chance to revisit this beloved warrior as well a new generation to discover this masterpiece.
I say masterpiece because that’s what it truly is. Being a bit too young in the eighties to read the more “adult” titles on the comic racks, I never got the chance to check out Marada the She-Wolf when she was first printed. My introduction to the character was when I received this collection for review. I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised to not only find beautifully painted artwork that welcomes you into a world of high adventure and intrigue but also a character who’s on a journey of recovery and must overcome a great amount of emotional damage to be the hero she’s always been. The characters have many layers and the writing does a great job of telling a very personal story while building a vast, mythical world for it to live in. The thing that caught me the most off guard was the introduction to Marada herself. One would think that the first time we see this character, she would be on the battlefield, thrusting her sword into her enemy and standing triumphant. Instead she is meak and mild, like a shell of what one would expect. We see Marada like this for a number scenes in the book. She’s acts wounded but there are no scars on her body. It’s then slowly revealed over the next few pages that there has been some piercing trauma of an otherworldly nature that has brought her to this state and she must overcome it if she’s ever going to be whole again. Thus begins her journey to face her demons, both literal and metaphorical, and reclaim her title as the She-Wolf. The second and third chapters are essentially road stories during the time of Caesar in exotic locales where Marada encounters a eclectic array of foes and obstacles. Marada, along with her travelling companion and friend, a young sorceress named Arianrhod, must find their way home in a world that is out for blood. Not a bad setting for an adventure.
The biggest plus of this Remastered Reprinting of Marada is that for the first time, we get to see the artwork for all it’s splendor. The advances in printing and paper quality give the artwork the look they were always meant to have. Now the intricate detail of Bolton’s work is visible. And there is a lot to take in. Aside from the vision of Marada in her leather and armor, we also get treated to deranged demons, sweeping shots of wild jungles and deserts, otherworldly plains and creatures and the odd brutal murder or two. There’s fights, there’s battles, there’s celebration. It’s all pleasing and inviting to the eye. Any fan of Conan, Red Sonja and even Thor will be right at home in Marada’s universe. Thankfully, it’s not just pretty pictures that sell this story. The writing supports the action and engages the reader throughout.
If you’ve already started your Christmas shopping and you’re looking for something for the fantasy comic fanatic in your family, Marada the She-Wolf is a must buy. The Marada the She-Wolf Hardcover Graphic Novel is available now wherever books and comics are sold.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!