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Legends of Percevan: The Stars Of Ingaar
posted April 22, 2009
 

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Creators: Jean Leturgie, Xavier Fauche, Philippe Luguy
Publishing Information: Fantasy Flight Publishing, hardcover, 160 pages, February 2009, $19.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781589943667 (ISBN13)

This is I assume an English-language version of three albums in the Percevan series, which my research staff informs me is a straight-forward fantasy-adventure series that has resulted in at least 16 albums en francais. Reading it after spending the last several years periodically diving into the Trondheim/Sfar Donjon translations is kind of like watching Failsafe after years of viewing Dr. Strangelove, or catching a movie you're certain you've seen that came out in the early '70s and realizing you're only familiar with the MAD version of same. Percevan is a knight who lives in magic-soaked, pseudo-medieval times; he spends most of the book trying to retrieve a gem from a handful of bad guys against whom he periodically faces off, sometimes in the company of his own cobbled-together confederation of allies. It may remind readers of a certain age of when they expanded the Smurfs cartoon to involve a few more castle and horseback trappings -- minus the blue creatures and with a bit more sex in it.

There's a time when I think the comics market might have been all over this, perhaps in the early '80s when there was a much bigger crossover between the gaming audiences, comics audiences and all those genre movies that came out right then. It still might appeal to someone with one of those insatiable appetites for fantasy literature. The story touches most of the expected genre bases, and while artist Philippe Luguy displays only an intermittent flair for design, the atmospherics are consistently compelling. I can imagine an eight- or nine-year-old version of myself spending a couple of hours peering past the characters at the castles looming in the background or puzzling my way through how a tavern's rooms are laid out. Even then, there are probably better books for that kind of thing, if only Hal Foster's.

The two biggest marks against the work are the presentation and the pacing. The volume is so unattractively designed that it's almost humorous. It's turd-colored, for pity's sake. The header/bottom feeders on the interior pages employ fonts with visual elements so distracting it could be argued they were going for some sort of early-'80s discordance gag over anything anyone would actually find enjoyable reading. The pacing of the narrative is a greater disappointment. Some gags unfold at a glacial pace, while other comedic and non-physical dramatic scenes move along in such a deliberate way you keep imagining there's going to be something more at stake but then the scene ends. The action sequences lurch and tumble forward with an odd, disjointed momentum. It can't be easy to work with the multiple tiers involved in one of the album-sized pages, and maybe future collections will be more assured. I'm afraid with this one I'll remember the seasickness much more than the voyage.