A complete collection of Claremont and Bolton’s run from Epic Illustrated, Marada The She-Wolf is a gripping sword-and-sorcery tale.

Marada The She Wolf coverFrom Chris Claremont, writer of The Uncanny X-Men, Excalibur, and Fantastic Four, and John Bolton, artist of Man-Bat, Shame: Conception, and Books of Magic, comes a fantasy classic, fully remastered, fully restored, and collected together for the first time ever!

Complete with previously-unseen art and features, this sumptuous volume gathers three tales of the beautiful, star-haired swordswoman, Marada the She-Wolf.

Ablaze in blood-soaked battle and insidious sorcery, unearthly desires, terror, and evil, this is the ultimate vision of the ultimate fighting fantasy female!

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Bolton
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Hardcover, 112 pages, 11.6 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches
Titan, November 12, 2013
ISBN: 9780857686329
Age: 17+
Order Online: Amazon, Book Depository

I’m a fan of Marada and have the Epic Illustrated issues and the Marvel Graphic Novel from the 1980s collecting, colouring and expanding on the original work so I was skeptical about the need for this new volume. That skepticism evaporated the moment I had the book in my hands. Oversized, sewn binding, thick pages: an overall excellent product. Inside lay all three Marada stories from Epic, all in colour and including the extended ending from the graphic novel.

Marada The She Wolf Interior 2

We’re presented with three tales of Marada. The Shattered Sword gives us a nice introduction to Marada and her current circumstances, interspersed with well placed flashbacks. It’s a great story of demons and shattered lives, plus provides an introduction to Arianhrod, Marada’s traveling companion for the rest of the book. Royal Hunt is a road tale of our two companions and one adventure of skill and betrayal. Wizard’s Masque takes our travelers to Alexandria and a middle eastern encounter with demons and bad guys. Each story opens with a one page introduction that sets the mood.

These are action tales set in a great historic period, and as such we don’t get a lot of character development. They are who they are and do what they do. The stories are a vehicle for sword and sorcery action but they are well crafted and deep enough to create an engaging world. Definitely adult material with some slight nudity, sexual situations and a high level of detailed violence. Epic Illustrated was an adult magazine and was part of Marvel’s attempt at a Heavy Metal style “serious” anthology.

Marada The She Wolf Interior 1

Bolton’s artwork is highly detailed and well crafted. At that stage in his career his style had a photo reference look with clean features. As you can see backgrounds and detail were given as much focus as the characters and its a trait I greatly admire in Bolton’s work here. It was the 1980s so there was only so much that could be done with the colours but Bolton made naturalistic choices for most things and the magical elements are fun.

It’s not all sunshine. All the art here was scanned and restored from either the graphic novel or the magazine. That means the first story is just as soft as it was in the graphic novel, which I believe is from Bolton colouring the black and white artwork. Compare the pages above and below to see what he was working with. Bolton dramatically improved his technique for the second story and the final tale appeared in colour so not much needed there. I would have preferred to see a recolouring of the original black and white art from the magazine, or better yet that black and white art included in this “complete” volume. I wonder if Bolton kept his originals…

Marada The She Wolf Interior 3

There is a surprising amount of extras. An introduction by Jo Duffy, the series original editor at Epic gives a nice overview of how this came to be. Followed up by a lengthy history of the creators and the historic setting of the series by Steve White, this collection’s editor. Finally a note about Bolton from Claremont. Interspersed among this text are preliminaries, sketches and all kinds of artwork from Bolton.

A worthy return to the 1980s for longtime readers, Marada The She-Wolf is an entertaining tale of magic and cold steel. An exceptional value at $25. Let’s hope Titan is going to follow this up with The Black Dragon.

Originally published at Comic Book Daily.