Marada The-She Wolf by Chris Claremont (The Uncanny X-Men; Excalibur; Captain Britain; Fantastic Four; Gen 13, Sovereign 7) and John Bolton (Man-Bat; Shame: Pursuit; Books of Magic).
Descended of Caesar, and preceded by her legendary reputation as a warrior, Marada The-She Wolf follows Marada’s adventures across the Roman Empire. Together with her magical accomplice, Princess Arianrhod, they battle evil demons, wizards, witches and unearthly terror!
Collected together for the first time ever in one deluxe hardcover and featuring beautiful restored artwork by John Bolton and never-before-seen sketches and artwork! This is the ultimate vision of the ultimate fighting fantasy female!
Marada The-She Wolf hits stores on November 12, 2013. The collection will also be available to read day and date on the iPad, iPhone, Web, Android and Kindle Fire, exclusively through the comiXology app and comiXology.com.
Okay, Ill admit it, I’ve never heard of Marada The She-Wolf. She-Hulk, yes. She-Wolf, no. It was with this deep background that the Editor-in-Chief viewed me as being the ideal choice for doing a review for NLY.
Seriously though, I’d never heard of the character until an email arrived from the EiC, and I was all set to pass when I noticed the name Chris Claremont on the cover of the book.
To comic book fans, Claremont is right up there with Stan Lee, having had a mind-blowing 17 year tenure as writer on The Uncanny X-Men from 1975 to 1991 and having had a hand in creating or co-creating such characters as Captain Britain, Gambit, Mister Sinister, Phoenix, Psylocke, Rogue, Sabretooth, and The White Queen herself Emma Frost.
He also wrote the greatest X-Men stories ever: The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. His comic book pedigree is without question and it would have been shamefully amiss of me not to read about the exploits of Marada.
Marada The She-Wolf, written by Claremont and published by Titan Books, marks the first time that the series has been collected in its entirety, in full colour and with fully-restored artwork by John Bolton. It also boasts behind the scenes artwork, an epic back story to the creation of the character, as well as glorious painted art.
Originally published within the pages of Marvel’s comic anthology Epic Illustrated, Marada tells the story of a female warrior, who happens to be the granddaughter of a one Gaius Julius Caesar (I’m still none-the-wiser as to whether this is THE Caesar or just someone with the same name), having been born to his eldest daughter and to the Prince of some undisclosed land that the Roman Empire had conquered.
When she was four years old, Marada witnessed her father broken on the rack, gutted and then finally drawn and quartered in a public execution. Ancient Rome wasn’t all nookie with wild abandon and gladiatorial battles as I’ve been lead to believe by the historical documentaries Spartacus and Rome. They’re not documentaries? Erm… What about Jaws?
Unsurprisingly, Marada and her mother make good their escape that fateful night and Marada was, not only, raised free, but as she grew, so did her reputation as a fearsome warrior. She development a penchant for hand-to-hand combat, became versed in the use of hand weapons in particular the sword. Think Conan but less Austrian accent and lamentations of their women.
In short, Marada embodied girl power (yes, I know, I’m bathing my fingers in bleach for typing that) in a way that few female comic book characters have before and since her first appearance, except maybe Hit Girl… So ferocious in battle was she, that she earned the nickname She-Wolf (think She-Ra but with Wolf instead of Ra).
This collection features the story arcs:
The Shattered Sword
Originally published in Epic Illustrated #10-11, the reader is introduced to a Marada who is scared of her own reflection, a shadow of her former self, and no longer the warrior that she was raised to be. Having been rescued by Donal MacLlanllwyr (you’ll find difficult to pronounce names littered throughout this book, Claremont could give Tolkien a run for his money), the story follows Marada as she befriends Donal’s daughter Arianrhod (you see what I mean?), gains the trust of Rhiannon (Donal’s mother), gets closer to Donal himself, and slowly, reveals why she won’t pick up a weapon or fight back like the warrior she is meant to be.
The reveal is shocking and, being a family site, I cannot describe adequately what happened to her, but if you’ve ever watched the animé Chōjin Densetsu Urotsukidōji, then you might have an inkling of what occurs.
Following an attack by a demon, Donal is left with a mortal wound and Arianrhod is kidnapped, and Marada is forced to once again become the feared warrior she once was and get all Liam Neeson on demon ass.
The Royal Hunt
First printed in Epic Illustrated #12, The Royal Hunt is a story featuring Marada and Arianrhod, as they attempt to return home, after accidentally teleporting to Africa. That’s right, I’ve mentioned ancient Rome, demons and teleportation. Run-of-the-mill this book is not!
In this story Marada and Arianrhod are captured by the ruler of Meroë’s – the Candace, Ashake and her army. As they put up a spirited fight, Ashake decides that they are worthy of hunting, during which they can earn their freedom.
The story is very reminiscent of works such as Battle Royale and The Running Man, which is no bad thing, as they are awesome, as too is this particular story arc. The Shattered Sword was a nice introduction to the myth of Marada, but this second act shows us a Marada in her prime. Think of it like the original Star Wars trilogy, the first film was good, great even, but Empire just blows it out of the Sarlaac Pit.
Ending up on a merchant ship, Wizards’ Masque (reprinted from Epic Illustrated #23-24) features pirate, demons and, as the name suggests, wizards, well one wizard, Jaffar.
Arguably the weaker of the three story arcs collected here (a bit like Jedi, maaaan, I reckon I can compare and relate Star Wars to anything), Wizards Masque places Marada and Arianrhod at the mercy of Jaffar who is in league with the demons who plagued Marada in the original arc, or are they? Jaffar may not be all that he seems.
As mentioned at the very start, I had never heard of Marada The She-Wolf prior to picking up this book and I can honestly say I am glad that I did. Although the stories contained are very reminiscent of Conan and Red Sonja and countless other swords and sorcery tales, Claremont’s writing allows Marada to stand apart from those, while Bolton’s artwork is gorgeous throughout and brings Marada’s world to life in stunning form.
Maddeningly, Marada’s and Arianrhod’s fate is left unfinished, as are several plot lines that are never resolved. Even with the cancellation of Epic Illustrated back in1986, Claremont still had plans for Marada, including what would have been a show stopping return to Rome. Unfortunately, this was never realised and the comic book world is poorer for it.
Do yourself a favour, pick up this book and educate yourself.