Dragonero - The Rebel: The Returning, review

Dragonero - The Rebel: The Returning, review

Dragonero - The Rebel

In recent days, in the social groups dedicated to Dragonero, some readers have quietly raised their concerns about the current direction of the series. The passage to the era of Il Ribelle seems to have displeased someone, who sees in this evolution (attention, not revolution) of the protagonist a sort of betrayal with respect to the continuity of the Bonelli fantasy series. Every opinion is legitimate, but to dispel these criticisms, from the structural point of view of the saga, it would be enough to read The Returning, story scripted by Enoch, on which you can reason about the management of the continuity of the series.

Making sense of coherence and continuity in a comic series is a challenge that can be attempted to overcome by relying on multiple tools. For Dragonero, Enoch and Vietti have not limited themselves to relying on the omnipresence of the protagonist, a founding figure of the saga, but have always invested a lot of their work in giving life to different aspects of their setting. Whether it was a particular population, an event of immense proportions or a social custom, the two authors have always tried to transmit a spontaneous and coherent dynamism to their world, without deception for the readers but with the intention of offering not only a glimpse into the Ian's life, but a whole world of possibilities. This is demonstrated by the various series born within the saga, such as Senzanima and Dragonero Adventures, which in recounting various moments in Ian's life filled and deepened anecdotes and events central to the evolution of the Erondar.

La Ritornante, a special meeting for Ian and Gmor

How does La Ritornante fit into this discourse? A first interpretation is Gheal, the girl to whom the title of the register refers. The returnees have already been presented previously, they have played a central role in Ian's life (just think of his brother or his commander Greevo during his past as a mercenary), with The Returner they return within the series, with all the them full of mystery. Let's not call them zombies, however, because the resurrection of the returning people has a different connotation, a magical root that has never been clarified which, with its indeterminacy, enriches these cursed beings with charm. The inclusion within the dynamic of the story of a character like Gheal is not purely instrumental, but has its own value, it is an integral part of the nature of a figure who becomes part of the Dragonero universe.

Not only does Gheal remind us of this continuity. The mission that leads Ian and Gmor to cross the path of the returnee, in fact, is vital for the Rebellion: to find a new ally, exploiting Ian's old friendships. In recent books, such as Le Gazze Ladre, this desperate search for support is increasingly evident, a sign that the Rebellion, as one might expect, is clashing with a harsher reality than imagined. The unsuccessful siege of the capital, the merciless hunt with which the throne, or rather the manipulators behind it, rage against Ian and the rebels are pressures that do not fail to make their weight felt.

Despair con which Ian and Gmor face their delicate task, in fact, is not only a demonstration of courage, but also a sign of how the Rebellion is close to a point of no return, in which it will be necessary to attempt a decisive action. A condition in which there is also a greater dynamism on the part of the Erondarian throne, which after having shown its feared magic with the Red Weeping, now does not hesitate to use it as a threat, sending Lady Sofia, Roney's dangerous wife, to remember to the dissident gentlemen what their fate is in the event of non-obedience.

Enoch intertwines all these elements in La Ritornante, making them a background element for the main story, linked to the presence of Gheal, but which concur to maintain the feeling of cohesion between the different chapters of Ian's life. It has been said several times that it is not adherence to the protagonist's existence or preserving a narrative frenzy that gives Dragonero a sense of solidity. As masters of fantasy fiction such as Erikson, Rothfuss, Abercrombie or Sanderson with his White Sand have shown, the coherence of a setting (and its continuity) is in world building, i.e. in giving life to a world that, with its own rules and peculiarities, be faithful to themselves.

Enoch and Vietti are two masters in this, they do not get caught up in the narrative, but set up a story that is aware of the time needed to develop credible situations and that evolve with the continuation of the horizontal plot. In La Ritornante, for example, we have again in action the bestiarii, which from monster hunters have become bounty hunters, a consequence of the new social order of Erondar and which has a manifest impact on the life of Ian and his companions.

An exciting story

A story that, behind a compelling dynamism, once again reveals the violent and feral soul of the current Erondar. A narrative sensation that finds in Manolo Morrone a perfect interpreter, capable of capturing the humoral tones of the plot and conveying them into tables in which an admirable and personal use of shadows best interprets the story. From the brightness with which Gheal's discovery is portrayed, enhancing the expressiveness of Ian and Gmor, to the delicate use of blacks in having to interpret more violent scenes, Morrone works without exceeding but delicately working on the details and on a particularly compelling use of the cage, as in the sequence in which Gheal confronts the hostess of the reception house, also showing a perfect vision of the movements of the characters.

Sensitivity that also transpires in the tables created by Gianluca Pagliarani, which recounts the last, violent moments of the previous one. Gheal's life. Moment of a certain ferocity, physical and emotional, which Pagliarani portrays in the rawness of him but preserving the sense of tragedy. Pagliarani's skill is also shown in the cover table where the designer shows off a convincing mastery of movement and synchrony between the different characters, a sensation heightened by the happy intuition of the 'vibrating' knife, which gives further dynamism to the table, yet another proof of talent not only chromatic but of perception and sensitivity of the overall vision of Paolo Francescutto.

Inevitable, also for La Ritornante, Luca Barbieri with his Cronache della Rebellion and Marina Sanfelice at the lettering. Fixed appearances of Dragonero that we will see again in action in The assault of the sparrow hawks, the next issue of Dragonero - Il Ribelle, whose cover shown in these days by Bonelli and portends an adventure with a high adrenaline rate.

From the shadows we rise. In silence we strike.

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