Meridian #1: Flying Solo
by Barbara Kesel, Joshua Middleton (CrossGen, 2003)

Meridian, Vol. 1: Flying Solo collects the first seven issues of the now-defunct CrossGen series of the same name. The basic premise of the entire CrossGen Universe was to have a common theme, the Sigil (also the company symbol), abruptly appear and change the course of particular characters as well as the worlds they inhabit. In this book, we see brothers and ministers of floating cities -- Turos of Meridian and Ilahn of Cadador -- each suddenly receive the Sigil. Kind-hearted and ailing Turos actually dies from this sudden influx of power and passes it on to his daughter, Sephie. The more aggressive Ilahn seizes this opportunity to extend his power base. While the "brother against brother" angle is a familiar plot device, this story uses that device only as the set-up. The themes of duality weigh heavily in this book, be it young vs. old, creation vs. destruction, nature vs. industry, compassion vs. control, etc.

While the main characters and their intertwining stories and themes are certainly captivating enough, the real star of this series isn't any particular character but the location (which is probably why the book was named "Meridian" instead of "Sephie" or any other particular character). The distant planet of Demetria is a fascinating world with qualities that could date it from both the past as well as the future. Yes, there are floating cities and ships that effortlessly sail on wind currents, yet otherwise these societies have a decidedly pre-industrial level of technology, further emphasized by each city having a particular specialty (ship-building, ore trade, bookbinding, ironworking, dyes & textiles).

The beauty and interest of Demetria is certainly due to colorist Michael Atiyeh and his utilization of such an interesting color palette that set the tone for the series. The simplistic natural paradise of Meridian is portrayed with muted earth tones, shades of amber, orange, green and the occasional splash of purple. Cadador, on the other hand, has the stark black- and gray-ness best suited for an oppressive and overbuilt city, with its brutal soldiers marching forth in shady blues with striking bold red accents. Having floating cities, obviously the sky will be an ever-present image, and Atiyeh shows the Demetrian skies with the full-range of colors and clouds and horizons.

Barbara Kesel, Joshua Middleton, Steve McNiven and Michael Atiyeh do a remarkable job of quickly immersing the reader into this charming and enthralling world and only serve to pique a reader's interest. Seven issues may seem like a sufficient amount of room, but you'll find that it's only a brief glimpse to a world that would have a wealth of story potential, even those beyond those characters vital to the Sigil storyline. Hopefully, more readers will pick up this pleasantly portable-sized "traveler edition" and rekindle interest in Meridian.

review by
C. Nathan Coyle

16 February 2008

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