[23 June 2004]
“We build our lives around ourselves like a careful fortress. And each morning when we open our eyes, we arrogantly expect what we’ve built to be there for us.”
That is one of the great lines from Sojourn.
At first, it just refers to changes that can occur when people become too complacent and take the future for granted. We can follow its eerie prescience to the demise of the comic book format, the fading comic book company that created the original stories or this new format which, properly marketed, could engender new fans into the dying monthly comic book format.
Sojourn begins with a prequel issue about the death of Mordath and the hero Ayden coming out of “retirement” to slay Mordath for the freedom of the Five Lands. Ayden is a great hero who wants to retire from the life of battle, and he feels himself a failure. He no longer wishes to be involved in the affairs of man. Whether he is man or god, we are not yet privy to. He breaks an arrow into five pieces, and if they are ever put back together, he will return to help.
Mordath is revived after 300 years, bitter because of the barren physical husk he lives in. He cannot enjoy any of the tactile joys of life because of the mortal wound that Ayden caused.
Then begins the introduction of our heroine. The beautiful Arwyn vows to destroy the villain Mordath, revenge for what he has done to her and her family. In the great tradition of all heroes, Arwyn is helping someone in danger as she is introduced. Our story’s narrator, Gareth, isn’t introduced until the third issue. Our final major character, Neven, is introduced and her motivations are not yet explained in this group of issues. The story, even if it sounds familiar, is quite interesting and rich in characterization.
The Digital Comic Book format is completely new to me, as it likely is to most. I had read about it when it was first announced but I never saw a copy for sale. I have to say that I found it quite enjoyable and I look forward to seeing more of the new format. Finding them, though, seems to be a bit difficult. While the Intec Interactive site did list merchants who had the discs, when I linked to them, there was nothing to be found. Looking on the big e-seller site, they are quite plentiful and at a very inexpensive $5 to $10 each for a seven issue story chunk.
Each DCB issue is approximately eight to 12 minutes long. The voice-over work was very professional and well above my expectations (which was set at Saturday morning cartoon level). The weakest voice acting was, unfortunately, for our lead character, Arwyn. Her weaknesses may have been enhanced, though, because the rest of the package was so strong. This, however, is a personal quibble, and should not discourage anyone from checking out this format.
The DVD contains seven total issues and a nice selection of extras including previews for other CrossGen titles. Voice-over work brings energy to the word balloons which nicely glide over the artwork. Panning over the artwork creates “movement” and, at times, I felt as if I was watching a low-budget cartoon with simple, limited animation. Some blurring occurs on quick pans, and the background music is interesting and definitely adds to the drama.
As a comic book reader for over 20 years, this DCB format is one I rolled my eyes at upon first hearing about it. The ease of viewing (on PlayStation 2, Xbox, DVD players and computers) makes this very accessible to most everyone. If you love comic books, or are looking for an enjoyable story with a strong female protagonist, this is definitely something to look for.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/sojourn-vol-1-dvd/