The Michael Moorcock Library: The Chronicles of Corum: The King of Swords HC (2019, Titan) – Mike Baron, Mark Shainblum

4 out of 5

A sweeping conclusion to the Swords cycle, jumping, as ever, between different worlds and through big-eyed fantasy concepts with relative ease.  The excessive amount of exposition required to move us from A to A-prime (in another dimension) to B and back is well wielded by Mike Baron and then, with no bump in the transition, by Mark Shainblum, though as our cast becomes sort of cluttered beyond Corum, Jhary, and Rhalina, some people seem to drop in and out of the story.  And yes, I would’ve preferred more time with our Eternal Champions together – joined to indirectly battle Chaos – but that would have also meant subtracting one of the other sequences in which Corum escapes from an ongoing siege of pursuants and problems, and they’re all pretty equally exciting, building to a fascinating use of anti-climax – which sounds bad, but it’s very satisfying – for the final clash.

The art is a bit uneven.  Ken Hooper’s loose style works well for sweeping us along through complex set ups and the fast pace, but colorist Ray Murtaugh flattens it out too much; when you get the comparison of Julie Sczesny’s more layered colors, it’s huge.  Murtaugh has, unfortunately, a similar effect on Jill Thompson’s art in the last issue, which is a bit more squirrely and definitely needs the dimension.  There’s a similar flip-flop with the lettering: Carrie Spiegle’s layouts and slimmer bubbles serve the flow of dialogue extremely well; Gary Fields seems to struggle with the same, causing some uncomfortable reading orders.

The pace survives, though, buoyed, for sure, by the inventive and wild source material, which both Baron and Shainblum bring very much to life.