As a graphic novel, Robert Jordan's New Spring has not had an easy road to publication. Initially released in July 2005, the eight issue mini-series ran for five issues before facing significant delays and dramatically ceasing publication in 2006. Since then, the final three issues have trickled out from the involved parties, the Dabel Brothers/Red Eagle/Dynamite Entertainment. Sadly, my awareness of these problems in production kept me from reading the series in single issue form. Last year, though, the eighth and final issue of New Spring was released and now, for those like me who have not kept up with it at all and likely cannot find those 5-year-old first issues, New Spring, Graphic Novel is now available. I have read it, and yes, I have some things to say.
First of all, the art is amazing. I did not really feel like I was reading a graphic novel so much as I was seeing a story. Much like the lovely sample of “Ravens”, one of the prologues to the YA-split version of The Eye of the World, up here on Tor.com, the art has a wealth of detail and truly renders Jordan’s vision. I am sure this is, no doubt, due to the close involvement Jordan had with the project prior to his death. In fact, as a bonus in the graphic novel, there is a set of emails from Jordan to the artists, giving them critiques on each panel from March 2004 to November 2005, up to issue #6. (Which features the sword fight Tor.com previewed for us.)
Sadly, past issue #6, the art slides a little downhill. Issue #7 isn’t so obvious, although if you look, you can find a few things here and there that Jordan was obviously very adamant on not having; an example as such being an off-the-shoulder dress on one character. Issue #8 threw me for a loop, though, as a new artist picks up the illustrating duties and the characters gain rounder faces, softer lines in general, and are in some instances almost unrecognizable from the earlier pages. I’m not going to say it was bad art; it was in fact still very beautiful. But the stylistic change for the last chapter was jarring.
And one final note: I am impressed and slightly amused with the sheer amount of conveniently placed objects and angles that had to be used for all the “clad in the light” scenes Jordan was so fond of inside the Tower. Any teenage boy who gets his hands on this graphic novel will be rather frustrated.
I won't get into detail analyzing the story because, well, Leigh is going to do that here before too long vis-a-vis the actual novel. But, this is Jordan’s story, and you can tell he had a strong hand in shaping the script for this adaptation. And again, you can see where his influence was no longer felt. I sadly cannot go back and check the “novella,” as my copy was the victim of an attempt by my ex-wife to press flowers, but I don’t recall the end being so...rushed. Pacing wise, it really felt like the last issue should have taken two issues to play out. There are several jumps in dialogue and situation that I know were not there in the book. This can be seen in just how the comics were being spaced. There are, at most, four chapters to an issue, and there are twenty-six chapters plus the epilogue in the novella. By the start of issue #7, there are still eight and some change chapters to cover in two issues. They're the heaviest chapters with both action and plot, since they were the ending ones, as well. I’ll be honest, I kind of wish they had stretched it to three-three-two/epilogue instead of what they did.
It is still the New Spring story, though, down to the details, and that is very heartening. Rushed as the end may be, I do not feel betrayed or misled with what I was getting, so I guess Jordan’s influence in approving the script might have gotten at least through all eight issues, although I cannot help but feel like without him here, they trimmed, cut, and crammed. After all, we Wheel of Time fans would accept nothing less of Jordan than to have to extend the run an issue to fit the story in, right?
Overall, I am very pleased. Not only does the bonus material make this worth buying, the illustrated glossary (which has a few oddly selected images, such as the Amyrlin stole for Aes Sedai Shawl), has plenty of gorgeous pictures that clue you in on nuggets hidden through the art that you might not have caught on the first reading. The way saidar, the sword forms, and the epic world of the Wheel is portrayed is simply too beautiful to pass up, besides. And just knowing that Jordan personally approved the art up through issue #6 is also reason enough. The emails make it clear that he was not settling for anything that was not exactly like his minds eye. This includes even the few snatches we see of Trollocs, which are the first ever representation of them I can recall seeing with the “human eyes” thing going on. These weren’t half-beasts, akin to the minotaur, or anthromorphic critters, as is so often done. No, they were Aginor’s monsters just as described.
So, Fife’s opinion? Get this. If you are a Wheel of Time fan, you will not regret the decision.
Richard Fife is a writer, blogger, and not a Darkfriend, cause, well, “GO LIGHT!” (Some of you get it, and some of you scratch your heads.) He is currently writing a new illustrated steampunk serial novel, the Tijervyn Chronicles, and for the true
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