Back in the day, CrossGen took on the herculean task of reinventing comics by publishing something other than standard superhero fare. Lead by the creative team of Barbara Kesel, Mark Waid and Ron Marz, CrossGen released comics based in science fiction, Victorian detective, and even samurai adventure. SOJOURN was one of CrossGen’s most popular titles due to its Lord of the Rings-type fantasy setting and Greg Land’s eye candy artwork. While the series only lasted thirty-five issues, the trade paperback collections are still easily found, great quality, and reasonably priced, so, even a decade later, you can still enjoy them.
Before I talk about this particular collection of comics, let me set the stage for our continuing story. Three hundred years ago, a vile conqueror named Mordath rose up on the world of Quin, waging a horrendous war on the Five Lands. This would-be overlord was very close to complete conquest when the tide was turned by the mysterious warrior called Ayden, who ultimately killed Mordath with an enchanted arrow. Thereafter, Ayden refused to take up the rule of the Five Lands, broke the arrow of Mordath’s downfall into five fragments and scattered them throughout the Five Lands before vowing that – though he was leaving – he could be recalled to the land’s aid if the arrow fragments were reassembled. Now, Mordath has been raised from the dead, is more powerful than ever, and has completed his conquest of the Five Lands. Sojourn is the continuing saga of the archer Arwyn: a woman armed with Ayden’s Bow, sworn to destroy Mordath, and on a quest to discover the five hidden shards of Ayden’s arrow.
THE WARRIOR’S TALE: SOJOURN Vol. 3 collects issues #13-18 of the comic series and finds an injured Arwyn, her faithful dog Kreeg, and the roguish, one-eyed Gareth wandering into the Egyptian-esque land of Ankhara, seeking the second arrow fragment while trying to evade the pursuit of Bohr, Captain of the Lord Mordath’s Guard. Naturally, it isn’t an easy task because Ankhara is an occupied country, filled with Mordant’s vile creatures, and even if that wasn’t so, no one – including Arwyn and her group – has any idea where to look for the three-century-old shard. Soon, our heroes find themselves slinking through mummy-filled tombs and embroiled in a smoldering rebellion against Mordath’s forces.
Without a doubt, Ron Marz did a wonderful job of penning this story. It had it all from Arwyn and Gareth’s growing friendship to the Ankharan champion’s righteous agony over his people’s enslavement, but Bohr and the Ankharans stole the show for me. Ron Marz’s focus on the vicious Bohr dealing with his mother’s final illness was very poignant and well written, immediately turning this one-dimensional character into a multi dimensional one, and his characterization of the Ankharans was very fascinating, crafting a convincing image of a proud, winged folk living in their cliffside cities and soaring through the skies in their magnificence while chaffing under the enslavement of Mordoth’s creatures. Both were very engrossing and kept me turning the pages.
As for Greg Land’s visuals, they really are quite magnificent here. Sure, there is still a tendency for static poses or a few too many cheesecake images for Arwyn and others, but not nearly as many as in the previous issues, and here they really don’t detract from the story. Besides, the lush panels of the land of Ankharan are quite simply a feast for the eyes, convincing you that this is truly a magnificent land of windswept deserts and soaring cities with people whose pride is clearly seen in their posture and bearing. Even when guest artist Aaron Lopresti fills in for Issue 17, the art does not drop off enough for it to derail this story arc.
All in all, this was a very entertaining collection. Sure, it isn’t a deep, philosophical book or a genre changing masterpiece of new ideas, but it accomplishing exactly what it set out to do: be a beautiful, fantasy adventure tale. It helped me pass an enjoyable hour or so sitting on my couch and forgetting about all my real life problems, which means it is definitely a BLAST FROM THE PAST!