Writer/Artist: M. Valdemar
The Liber Arcana: Dark Medieval Times is a passion project from M. Valdemar that introduces us to Arcana, a fearsome young warrior born from a mysterious occult ritual who finds herself captured by some fairly depraved types and, ultimately, being forced to make a deal with the Grim Reaper himself in order to escape, pledging her loyalty to him in the process.
When you strip it down to its component parts (pun only partially intended), there’s a lot to like here. Dark fantasy stories with decidedly Heavy Metal sensibilities are always a lot of fun to read, and the deal Arcana makes with the Reaper should offer up all manner of interesting possibilities as this story unfolds.
The artwork is solid, if a little inconsistent throughout, with some truly fantastic panels and panels sandwiched between some occasionally lacklustre ones. It’s clear that Valdemar has a ton of talent and passion, and there’s a wealth of creativity on display here, but sometimes his use of anatomy and perspective can be a little jarring. Also, for some reason best known only to the creator, Arcana spends the bulk of this issue almost entirely nude. Not a criticism in itself, but it does feel a little gratuitous when you consider that it adds very little to the overall story.
My one main bugbear about the issue, however, is the lettering. Nothing lets down a self-published comic more than poor lettering, and even when you have a great idea and some solid artwork like Valdemar clearly does here, when you also have cramped word balloons, shifting font sizes and generally untidy placement throughout, it’s difficult for the story to get the kind of traction it deserves.
Overall though, and putting these criticisms aside there’s definitely a lot to like here. Valdemar’s passion shines through from start to finish, and there are some fantastically visceral and eye-catching moments along the way. The idea is sound, the execution is admirable, and with a little tidying up in a few key areas (the lettering in particular), this is a book I’d have absolutely no problems recommending.
You can find out more about THE LIBER ARCANA: DARK MEDIEVAL TIMES on the Mortem Consilia Facebook Page.