I have vivid memories of Lisa Simpson, of the Simpsons TV show, describing school textbooks as having gone through ‘a monstrous deflavorizing machine.” That description kept popping up while reading Eternal Empire. Everything was so bland, dull, and oddly generic and inert that it became a real slog to finish. Zero world building, ineffectual and oddly 2-dimensional characters, walk around in an under drawn and ‘game world NPC level of detail’ morass of humdrum plotting. It felt like a school project result; one that received a C grade at that.
Story: two people from very different climes – one desert and one snowy – have visions that plague them. They break free of the oppressive regime that has conquered most of their world and enslaved the masses – and head for each other blindly. When they meet up, they find they suddenly have strange fires that they randomly make swords out of – and then walk around blindly encountering some bad guys and helping to free people who don’t want the burden of that freedom. Enter underwhelmingly small dragons.
This was, by far, the most disaffecting comic I’ve read in a long time. From the art to the plotting, nothing really happens and none of the characters feel very motivated/motivational. The art is honestly snoozworthy – as if the artist was phoning it in with panels repeating the same background/set up over and over with only slight variations in the expressions (and the slight variations weren’t there for subtlety’s sake, either). That’s IF there was something in the background other than generic mud huts, people all wearing the same outfit but colored differently, and everyone pretty much looking alike. If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed the artist loathed the writer and was trying to sabotage the work by doing as little as possible to still get a paycheck.
Mediocre paneling and illustration work combined with a dull and spineless set of heroes. Sure, we don’t want superheroes and there is a heck of a lot of room for growth, let’s be honest. But seeing them bumble around drove me to bang my head on my keyboard to stay awake long enough to continue reading to the end. It was all so unremarkable in every aspect.
I’m running out of adjectives for bland and generic, uninspired and ineffectual. You get the idea. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.