Drew Hayes,
Poison Elves: Requiem for an Elf
(Sirius, 1996; collected from issues 1-6,
published by Mulehide Graphics, 1991-92)

Requiem for an Elf collects the first six issues of the original Poison Elves series (originally called I, Lusiphur). The trick for me is to now introduce you to the realm that writer and artist Drew Hayes has created over the years, and the stories he has told starting at the beginning.

I will start off with a small warning about this series. Poison Elves is not for everyone. It can be very harsh and dark at times. It is often violent, and death is ever present. That aside, it is well worth the reading.

To give you a better idea of the beauty and darkness of this realm, imagine a village of healers. Now, name it Malamarh'nn and add the rule that all who come seeking healing must cross the boundaries of the village by themselves. Or a mad wizard who decides that he will call up the Demonlord who rules over insanity. The beauty can be harder to find, but it is there, in an apprentice healer, Lirilith, who loves Lusiphur. You'll meet him soon enough. And in Jace, in the comradeship that goes with him. Even if you don't see it fully yet, the seeds of it are there.

Lusiphur embodies some of the best and worst of this world. He's a thief and a rogue with no qualms against killing you if he needs to. Or wants to. And yet, he saved Lirilith's life once. He is a loner who survived growing up alone on some very mean streets. And there is still more to him than this, and you see glimpses of it as the tales are told.

And the tales that are told are well told indeed. Even if we may never see the art from the first two issues (Drew did not like the art from the first two issues, so he did not include it in the trade. Instead, he wrote the story with occasional pages of art), they give a very good introduction to Lusiphur and his world. Like I said, the tales are well told, and small details from one story may later cause larger and larger problems for the characters later. Sometimes we find out about the small detail well after the fact. The stories continue off the pages, silently in the background until it is time for them to return to the focus.

I will give you one example of this, staying within one book and following the small little details that lead to, well, you'll see that later. First, an attempt to poison Lusiphur fails, but causes him to become addicted to the poison. Second, he boasts of said addiction while drunk in a bar. And third, he has forgotten a debt owed to a criminal mastermind who lives in the very city he made that idle boast. It all adds up. And I almost forgot a murder, which will come back to cause larger and larger problems for Lusiphur as time passes. Then again, after 60-plus issues, Lusiphur still has to deal with people that were impacted by his making good on the debt.

That is the greatest strength of this series: the attention to details. The artwork is good, sometimes spectacular, but these days good artwork is expected, if not demanded. Good, well-told stories, with attention to detail -- well, I will leave one alone for now. But I am glad that Drew does his best to provide them, once a month, come what may.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]