Comic Review: Meridian Volume 1 & 2

These were my last two series specific trades to read before getting into the collections Forge and EdgeMeridian was, I think, the series that really pulled me into CrossGen Comics.  Giving them a reread reminded me of just why.  I really love the setting.

Keeping with the overall CrossGen theme, which echoes Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series in many way, this one has young Sephie and her sinister uncle Ilahn are given the Sigil, a mark of power bestowed by some otherworldly forces, meant to sew conflict on various worlds.  Ilahn is given a destructive power, while Sephie’s seems to be focused more on life.

This particular world has been through some terrible events, and now sees chunks of land floating in the sky above a toxic surface world.  The cities on these floating islands use airships to travel between them, and occasionally to the surface, where they trade with hearty folk for resources.  Chaos is sewn when the good man (Sephie’s father) who leads Meridian is killed and his brother (Ilahn) becomes steward.  The setting has a very cool, swashbuckling vibe, but with weird Fantasy and almost Dying Earth type stuff going on.  It’s the kind of setting that would make for a fantastic tabletop role-playing game, making me wonder if it had come out five years earlier or ten years later, would that have maybe been a thing.  Alas, among its other problems, CrossGen Comic’s greatest failing may have been one of timing.

Over the course of the two volumes, Flying Solo and Going to Ground, we’re introduced to the world, several of its islands, as well as some communities on (and below) the surface, and a large cast of characters.  It does fall prey to a problem I’ve noticed in some other CrossGen titles, with character design being too similar.  There’s literally a girl who looks just like Sephie and every time it cuts back to her, I’m momentarily confused.  There are a couple young men who also look very similar.  An odd observation that may in part be a product of a certain over-representation of foot fetishists in contemporary pop culture that I find a bit icky, is that the way Sephie is drawn in the first volume sometimes gives off creeper energy.  It may be perfectly innocent.  I may be reading WAY too much into it.  Perhaps it’s watching too many Tarentino films? Maybe it was someone trolling Rob Liefeld?  But especially considering the character’s age, it just hit weird.

Getting past my issues with the character art, the general visual look of the series is fantastic, even through changes in artists.  The story is solid.  Several of the characters are compelling, though admittedly a few of them just seem to be around for moments of peril and chances to show what’s happening in places when Sephie and Ilahn aren’t there.  By the second volume, Sephie is becoming more confident and less the reluctant hero.  When I read this series twenty years ago, I started with the issue in volume 1 of Forge, so I had to go back later and read this.  I wonder if I’d have stuck with it if I’d started at the beginning.  The setting is still strong, but Sephie is a bit limp in the early issues.  I’m glad she’s more forceful, proactive, and confident by the end of these two volumes.

Meridian is still a cool series, in spite of a few blemishes.  I love this setting, and I really wish someone would do something with it.  I remember way back then, when CrossGen Comics was seemingly trying to become a media empire overnight and wildly overreaching, there was talk of an animated Meridian movie, and I think that would be swell.  Of course, these days, I’m sure someone would accuse it of “ripping off” Avatar, because people aren’t very media savvy and think Cameron is creative (floating islands and environmental allegory weren’t new when Meridian came along).

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