Battle Chasers by Joe Madureira and Munier Sharrieff

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fantasy and science fiction book reviewsBattle Chasers by Joe MadureiraBattle Chasers by Joe Madureira & Munier Sharrieff

Battle Chasers was a groundbreaking fantasy comic book that emerged onto the comics scene in 1998, when independent comic publishers were finally giving the big two — DC and Marvel — a run for their money. Despite the sporadic release dates of Battle Chasers’ issues, the series won the hearts of many readers, only to disappear like a shooting star when Joe Madureira went on to pursue interests in the video gaming industry. I was one of those original fans, but as the wait between issues increased, I missed the final installments. So I recently purchased all nine comics in a digital omnibus edition which also includes an introduction and bonus material. Battle Chasers was intended to be an ongoing fantasy comic book series which centered on a quintet of characters:

Gully is the ten-year-old daughter of this world’s mightiest hero, Aramus. Now with Aramus gone missing, Gully is in possession of her father’s magic gauntlets that, when worn, give Gully incredible strength and invulnerability.

Garrison was once the most skilled swordsman of the elite guardians of the realm called the Paladins, and his oversized sword contains sorcerous powers. After the death of his wife, Garrison has become a drunk.

The cantankerous and grandfatherly Knolan is perhaps this world’s greatest wizard and also seems to be privy to secrets that could be a danger to all.

Calibretto may be the last of the golems, great automated war-machines, which were ordered to be dismantled after the war. Despite being a sort of robot, Calibretto has more humanity than most humans.

The voluptuous mercenary-thief Red Monika is as deadly as she is sexy.

Battle Chasers at Comixology

Battle Chasers at Comixology

Joe Madureira, a.k.a. Joe Mad, is an astounding storyteller with both his writing and illustration. The world of Battle Chasers is an exciting blend of the traditional medieval fantasy, science fiction, and just a dash of steampunk too. (In fact, when doing research for this review, I found Battle Chasers described by a term I did not know of before: arcanepunk.) It’s a place where magic and futuristic technologies co-exist. Fighters brandish flintlock firearms and bladed weapons. Clockwork automation is made possible for the few who have access to the rare element of mana to use as a power source. There are flying ships and beasts of burden, monsters and mythical creatures. Star Wars-like soldiers patrol outposts, while armored soldiers and knights make up the bulk of the armies. The graphic format is a great fit for this setting, and I can’t imagine it working so well in any other medium.

Battle Chasers takes all the fantasy and science fantasy clichés — and a few comic book ones too — and exaggerates them to the point that readers can’t help but lose themselves in the pure fun of it all. Madureira’s artwork seems heavily influenced by manga, which I’m not usually a fan of, but the bold lines and exaggerated features are a perfect match for this story. The action “Joe Mad” depicts is adrenaline-charged. All the archetypal characters are made even more endearing when portrayed in an almost caricature-like fashion: Gully looks like a Precious Moments waif, Calibretto an archaic cast iron blast furnace on legs. Warriors are over-muscled, swords are huge, other weapons and equipment are bulky. And Red Monika, well, let’s just say she has impossibly large… ah… “guns”? (I’m ashamed to admit it, especially at my age, but I think I’m in love with her.)

I absolutely adored this comic book series, and there were many other fantasy comic fans that did too. It broke my heart to see it end so abruptly. Please, Joe Mad, I beg you to return to comics and finish Battle Chasers.


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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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4 comments

  1. Somehow, this never made it onto my radar. I was reading mostly mainstream at that time, so I guess that’s the reason. Sounds interesting.

    I bought the first several issues of DC’s new 52 title Demon Knights, which also has the fantasy vibe.

  2. I think it only developed a cult following because sometimes several months would pass between issues and then just as the story was really taking off, it stopped altogether.

  3. Derek /

    Greg, good choice. I was also all hyped-up when this series came out way back when. Joe Mad had that manga art style that was different from the other big shots at the time like Lee and McFarlane. Joe’s artwork on the X-Men titles is still fabulous (I might have to pull out those issues again). As you noted, Joe got burned out and went into the video game industry for quite awhile. He recently drew a story arc for the new Avenging Spider-Man series and I think he is rumored to draw another arc at some point. I did see a recent interview where he dropped a hint that Battle Chasers could be worked on again (crossing our fingers, right?)

    I don’t recall how well-written the series was, and I think I have all of the individual issues to check, but the art is definitely eye candy and bubblegum pop. Joe was on top of his game at the time which made him leaving the industry abruptly so very perplexing to us fans.

    This is a good call for fantasy fans to check out. It’s not your classic D&D dungeon crawl and does have that steampunk feel to it. Not sure what fantasy book series you could compare this series to, but I would liken it to a fantasy series directed by Sam Raimi (sorry, Michael Bay, I don’t care for your flicks). The characters are big and bold and I think this would have become a very endearing series had he stuck with it for 30-50 issues. In fact, consider that fans still have a special place in their heart for this series tells you how loved Joe Mad was.

    Off subject, anyone that likes steampunk concepts, Chris Bachalo is one of the best artists going in portraying a steampunk look to regular titles like the X-Men. Some people feel his art is too busy but I love comic book artists that when you see the art you know exactly who it is. Chris hit it big with Neil Gaiman on the Death series which was an outtake from Sandman. He did have a title called “Steampunk” but it didn’t run the full distance planned.

  4. Derek -Your knowledge of comics is very impressive. I’m anxious to see your reviews.
    I think I read some of those same hints about Joe Mad picking up Battle Chasers again. Seems like he made a statement that it bothered him to leave it unfinished.

    I have several of those Steampunk comics you mentioned. In fact, that’s where I’d first heard the term. I remember thinking that series was pretty good.

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