Advance Review: Ravine Vol. 2

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Ravine vol 2

Created by: Stjepan Sejic
Written by: Stjepan Sejic and Ron Marz
Illustrated by: Stjepan Sejic
Letters by: Troy Peteri

SUMMARY:
As Lynn and Stein get better acquainted, war looms across the land of Palladia.

REVIEW:

It’s been a long time since Stjepan Sejic’s Ravine Vol. 1 hit the shelves.  A year and a half to be exact.  It was my favourite graphic novel of 2012.  In fact, until I read Saga, it was probably my favourite graphic novel in a long time.  This really is an absolutely stunning book and if you haven’t read the first volume, then it’s probably best if you get caught up before reading this one.  Luckily, Sejic has put the entire first book online to be read for free.  To read it, simply click here and enjoy.

Ravine is a labour of love for Sejic and he’s been working on it for years.  After a successful run on Artifacts and a handful of other books, Top Cow agreed to publish Sejic’s series and Ron Marz came on board to iron out the script.  While all the story work is by Sejic, Marz did a fair bit of the writing of the script itself.  All art and colour is by Sejic and the concept itself is all on him, too.

Unlike most Top Cow titles, Ravine is not published as monthly single issues but is instead to be published as a series of graphic novels.  And it really is a graphic novel in the truest sense of the word.  Having the book released as a trade paper back instead of monthly 22-page comics makes for a much better reading experience and it feels just right for an epic fantasy like this one.  Big tales like this aren’t meant to be chunked down into little bits – they’re supposed to be lengthy and leisurely.  The kind that is just perfect for curling up with and getting thoroughly lost in.

When it comes to the story, Volume 2 picks up right where Volume 1 left off.  Lynn and Stein had just run into one another at the end of the first book and now they’re trying to work each other out and determine what is their best course of action.  The pieces that had been coming together throughout the first volume now fit in with ease.  Their weapons and connections with the ghosts of the past come naturally now and just feels part of who they are.  With this pair, dialogue is electric and they already seem like good friends.  Marz has a gift for writing dialogue that sounds as if it has been taken right out of a real conversation.  All in all, Lynn and Stein are the likeable characters who guide the reader through the turbulent world of Ravine.  While they both play their parts in the grand scheme of things, they are the most grounded characters and probably the ones that the reader can most relate to.  And, as always, Lynn’s dragon, Hurricos, is freaking awesome.

The politics have gotten a little heavier this time.  The implications of Lynn’s disappearance have consequences and Nebezial is planning to make his move.  It’s all getting incredibly tense and things are about to get serious.  It’s only a matter of time before our two unwitting heroes get dragged in to the fray and all hell breaks loose.

Highlights for this book include the absolutely beautiful prologue which tells the tale of Azriel and Calisto.  The pair of amazing creatures (with wings protruding from their heads!) are deeply in love but faced with battle.  Calisto loses so much and her story of loss and despair is a heart-breaking one.  Another high point of the book is the terrifying Wodan and his ever-hungry dragons.  But the less said about him the better!

As always, Sejic’s art is stunning.  In fact, I’d say that this is his finest.  The attention to detail is second to none and I could easily just sit and flick through this book and find something new each time.  The same is true for the first book.  I’ve read it no less than half a dozen times and have thrust it upon anyone who would care to listen to me talk about it.  Sejic’s visual style is outstanding.  In his ongoing series Death Vigil and his webcomic Sunstone, his art is playful and full of visual puns.  With Ravine, however, it’s all business.  He pours his energy into vivid characters and stunning backdrops.  Everything seems very tactile, too – like you could reach into the page and feel the chainmail, or the dragon scales, or even run your fingers through a character’s hair (as creepy as that would be).  If the wait for this book was so that Sejic could finish something this fantastic, then it was entirely worth it.

Ravine is a superb book that is perfect for fantasy fans.  It creates a steady balance between character and story-telling while still building a world that any reader could easily lose themselves in.  Ravine vol. 2 has been well worth the wait and you must pick it up with it hits the shelves this week.  It’s time to harness your inner dragoon and explore Palladia again because this is a world you’ll never want to leave.

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