The original story was created by Šejić almost 11 years ago. He now not only illustrates the title, but also co-writes it with his friend, and industry veteran, Ron Marz.
The pair have worked together on titles like Witchblade, Angelus & Artifacts for some years now and the ease at which they collaborate is obvious.
Ravine deals with the story of Nebezial Asheri, driven mad by grief at the deaths of his wife and daughters, and his quest to bring them back to life. To do this he risks unleashing the same level of magic that almost split the world in two and left a massive ravine in the land like a scar. He faces multitudes of people attempting to stop him, with the story focusing on a small group of uneasy allies.
Arranged as a series of graphic novels, Ravine is reminiscent of the European style of publishing comics, and is a bold move in the Western market. However, I believe it is a stroke of genius. The concept of ‘waiting for trade’ is firmly entrenched in the minds of modern comics buyers and having to read Ravine in the bite sized format of monthly issues just wouldn’t have conveyed the same sense of ‘epicness’ and grandeur that the graphic novel sized installment would. And this book is huge – 120+ pages of story combined with DVD style extras like a glossary, cast of characters, pinups, and a prose story equal great value for money. Of course now that I’ve read vol #1 I’m left with the same urgent need to know what happens next that I would have gotten from single issues, but you can’t have everything!
It has been compared to A Song of Fire and Ice in other reviews, (it’s back cover even mentions A Game of Thrones), but I think that is a disservice. Not every epic fantasy rides the coattails of Tolkien or Martin and that is definitely not the case here. Šejić and Marz have crafted a tale of love, betrayal, intrigue and adventure that rises above typical fantasy trappings and sets a new standard.
That is partly due to Marz’s skill with words helping bring Šejić’s original ideas to life, his skill at describing the situation means he almost doesn’t even need the art, but that would be a travesty because the real star here is Šejić’s art. Forgive my use of a parlance of our times here but O.M.G! This guy is amazingly talented. Every panel feels alive and the imagery is amazing. I confess I’m not really much of a Top Cow reader, barring an occasional nostalgic dip into the world of Cyberforce, but upon finishing this book I immediately logged onto my favourite online comic shop and ordered every Ron Marz/Stjepan Šejić trade they had! I’m kicking myself that I didn’t know about Stjepan beforehand, but now that I do I’ll be watching his career very closely.
And of course, part of that will be by collecting Ravine. This is an excellent book and its creators should be very proud of their efforts.
Rating: 5 Lukes