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Matt Wagner wrote an interesting mini-series in the mid 1980s featuring Jack Kirby’s DEMON, whose origin was wrapped up in Arthurian mythos and legendary Merlin. In this series, Wagner returns to the Arthurian setting with a different story, a different focus, but some of the same events and characters are involved. The focus here is on Nimue, a sprite who only comes into Arthurian legend tangentally, as the lover of Merlin who imprisons him, taking him out of the story. In this version, Nimue is a forest spirit, akin to the Wild Huntsman, another British legend, and even wears deer bones that suggest it, including some very uncomfortable-looking shoes. She is the sister of two other female magic-wielders of legend, but unlike them, only wants to protect her forest and her lover, Merlin. Of course, things are going badly for Arthur’s court, he’s in battle with the evil Mordred, and there is treachery everywhere.
The art on this series is stellar. I’m really impressed with the work of artist Amy Reeder Hadley. She combines solid drawing skills with excellent design work and fine storytelling. When I saw the previews for the book, I got an impression of manga from the art, but reading the complete issue, that’s only a minor influence in some of the faces. If there is a weakness, and it’s barely that, nearly everyone seems to look very young, even Merlin with his long gray beard. But, really, Hadley is a terrific find, and I predict a long and successful career for her if she can handle the working life comics requires. Wagner’s writing is also quite good, and he keeps up the suspense and interest even when we already know what some of the outcomes will be, no small task.
This new series has my highest recommendation, and I’ll be picking up any work by Hadley I see in the future.