|The Mercenary: The Cult of the Sacret Fire & The Formula. by V. Segrelles. New York: NBM, 1983, 1985. 1v. (unpaged). $12.95. ISBN 0-918348-27-7.|
|The Mercenary 2: The Trials [and] The Sacrifice. by V. Segrelles. New York: NBM, 1984, 1986, 1988. 1v. (unpaged). $13.95. ISBN 0-918348-49-8.|
|The Mercenary 3: The Fortress. by V. Segrelles. Translated by Michael Koch. New York: NBM, 1991. 1v. (unpaged). n.p. ISBN 1-56163-024-1.|
The art, though very realistic and quite beautiful in "landscape" shots, is strangely stiff when it comes to depicting people. The problem stems from several things: hardly any motion indicators around anything, a frequent use of full-frontal portraits (people stare in the direction of the camera a lot) and bland head shots, and the lack of "sequential art" in the art. By this I mean that each panel seems to be a painting unto itself, with only thematic relation to the previous and subsequent ones--the people pose rather than "act," and they don't change position in such a way from panel to panel to suggest that they physically moved in between panels. Another good example comes from the first book: an arrow streaks toward its subject but takes four panels to arrive at its target; there's no sense of motion across these panels, except in the first; the arrow seemingly hangs in the air. Note below how all the excitement has been drained out of this sequence by this approach:
There are a number of such sequences in the first book. It's clear that Segrelles is one of those artists better suited to illustration than sequential art.
The naked women are pure eye candy; their nakedness serves no genuine plot purpose (except once when Nan-Tay and the Merc are in a cell together, and Nan-Tay has the Merc pretend to try to rape her to get their cell guard to open the door to join in the fun). As a result, their presence is anomalous, distracting, and, frankly, pretty childish. Note that the Merc never strips down to total nakedness; love these double standards.
The lettering in half of the second book and all of the third book is terrible, very amateurish and messy.
Also in the third book, a funny thing: someone apparently took offense to the bare-breasted Nan-Tay and superimposed black ink "mesh" breast covers over her chest. They're so outrageously fake-looking that I thought for a moment that the previous owner of this book (I bought the set used) had drawn them in. It looks like they had the letterer do it--the ink lines seem to be of the same size as those in the lettering. Geez! I mean, why do this to book 3 if the first two were cheerfully naughty? (And compared to the nudity in the first two books, the third book is easily the tamest.) And if you must do something like this, why do it in such a cursory and ugly manner?
I assume Segrelles is at least moderately popular; besides these three books, he's written five more Mercenary (the last in 1999), and several art-only books exist. Without having seen them, I'd say that if you like Segrelles's style, get the art books over The Mercenary. Otherwise, these books might be of interest to people intrigued by nonmagical swords-and-sorcery, and to folks who haven't yet had their quota of pointless naked women for the day.
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