Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feeling Lucid? I am!

“What if Harry Potter grew up and became a secret government agent?”

That was the pitch I got last year from creator Michael McMillian when Lucid was first coming out, and I’ve been sold ever since. Yes, I would like to see such a story please, and this book delivers wonderfully.

First, let me get my issues with it out of the way. The hardback trade is 10% smaller than the original 6.5” x 10” (approximately) of a typical comic book page, and it’s unfortunate. It’s probably my age and my need to finally cave in and get bifocals, but I found myself squinting at everything. 10% doesn’t sound like much, but for a book of this type which focuses heavily on the artwork and its detail, it’s a noticeable reduction.

But, typical of the top quality of everything Archaia puts out, the book is gorgeous. The well-designed dust jacket is a mix of subtly-embossed gloss and matte inks. I can’t stop touching it. The interior is just as lovely, and the binding will last forever.

I’m sure everybody is going to disagree with me on this, but the artwork style by Anna Wieszczyk is not my favorite. It’s personal preference, I know, but the gangly “Cowboy Bebop” anime style is not my thing. However, the skillful use of painterly color and sequential storytelling do work beautifully. The lush pages look good enough to eat. Expressions and gestures are subtle and the occult mood of the overall work are convincing and draw the reader in.

The story, scripted by True Blood’s Michael McMillian, is a fascinating arc between the four issues contained in this volume, with more to come in this limited series. Readers are thrust into the middle of this world that is both familiar and foreign, where magic is one of the most important weapons in the hidden chess game between nations.

The main character, Matthew Dee, is a direct descendant of 16th century mystic and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee (look this guy up on Wikipedia), which enables him to wield magic and be the “Protector of the Realm” for the United States. I won’t reveal why, but I absolutely love how Ariah turns out to be a key part of it all, including the reason that Dee is “lucid” and able to tap into his gift in the first place.

Details and back-story are revealed as the tale unfolds, which is mostly successful, but I couldn’t help but think that I’d somehow come into the middle of the movie. More about the origins of how this all came to be would have been helpful for this first volume. At the back of the trade is a sigil guide, all four beautiful covers as they appeared, and a sketchbook which does explain some details.

The world of Lucid is rich and intricate, and I look forward to learning more about how it all works. Maybe we can convince McMillian to make the series open ended?

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