Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

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TRoOB: The Crusades

It's time for another issue of The Review of Obscure Books. Up this time: the recently completed comic, The Crusades (Vertigo Press).

The Crusades is a curious little ramble of a comic. It's set in modern-day San Francisco -- a Bay Area full of the usual undercover crime and loudmouth radio DJs. All is normal, until one day, when a knight on horseback starts carving up bad guys and generally upsetting the apple cart. Especially when The Knight begins to mix it up with a local crimelord named The Pope (whose particular quirk is demanding remission for the sins that he is about to commit).

The protagonist, however, is none of these -- it's a lady named Venus Kostopikas, who is a hoot. She is a media fact-checker, and is basically a professional fount of trivia. Her diggings into what's really going on with The Knight, and the travails of her overly complex love life, are the heart of the story. Venus is the saving grace of the story: quirky, a little neurotic, but in the end the one person who is both smart enough and persistent enough to unravel the strange situation.

The series unexpectedly did something that I am quite fond of: it ended. When they realized that the sales weren't going to support it in the long run, the authors took the time to build it up to a proper climax, and bring it to a reasonably satisfying conclusion. While the result isn't high art, it does turn the story into a decent novel, rather than merely a cryptic serial.

Okay, you read the cut title, and are undoubtedly asking, "So what does this have to do with the SCA?" Oddly, this story got no mention on any of the SCA mailing lists I'm on, despite the fact that it is really-and-for-true about the SCA. You need to bear in mind that the author clearly is not a member of the Society, and gets a rather annoyingly large number of details wrong. Still, it's clear that the SCA was part of the original inspiration of the story, and over the last eight or so the Province of the Mists becomes central to the conclusion of the plot. It's always interesting to see how outsiders view the Society -- the depiction of the SCA in the story is a bit over-idealized, but I think they at least get the spirit right.

Overall, it's not a brilliant story, but it's quirky and fun, and worth reading. TRoOB rating: B-. (Or B if you're in the SCA and curious.)

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