The name Arwen Undomiel summons forth all manner of images for the dedicated fanboy, and after Liv Tyler's flawless portrayal of the daughter of Elrond, I have no doubt that not all of those images are wholesome and clean. But if I change just one letter in that name, what image is then summoned forth?
What if I say Arwyn instead of Arwen?
For almost everyone I know, that won't summon forth any image at all, and yet for me it draws forth thoughts of one of the finest heroines every to grace a fantasy epic. Skillfully drawn by Greg Land (in reference to an earlier conversation on Barry Windsor-Smith I would note that I find Greg Land's facial work amongst the finest I've ever seen) Arwyn stars in what was once Crossgen's (there's that company again!) highest grossing comic series; Sojourn.
The tale is actually very simple:
300 years ago a man named Mordath raised an army of Trolls and conquered the five lands, before an mysterious warrior named Ayden arose and rallied the free peoples into an army to defeat Mordath. Ayden slew Mordath, and then took the arrow he used to kill the evil overlord and broke it into five pieces, scattering them amongst the five realms. He did this because Mordath vowed upon his death to return and wreak vengeance upon Ayden and the five lands.
300 years later Mordath's body is touched, and marked with a great sigil (the theme of all Crossgen books.) He returns to life, but his wickedness immediately betrays the power of the sigil, and turns it fully to a corrupted engine of hate. Mordath once more calls forth the troll armies and crushes the Five Lands. The archer Arwyn survives the destruction of her city, but loses her husband and daughter in the process, and swears vengeance on Mordath.
Confronted by the enigma who calls herself Neven, Arwyn takes up the quest to reunite the five fragments and bring Ayden back to snuff out the evil of Mordath once more. She is joined in this quest by Gareth, a one-eyed rogue notorious throughout the lands as the greatest archer alive, and her faithful dog Kreeg (don't sell him short - I really enjoy his role in the early issues.)
Wizard once referred to this series as "An intricate story of loss and revenge." They weren't wrong. The first seventeen issues of this series were done under the guidance of Ron Marz and were truly exceptional. The next sixteen issues were handled by a younger Ian Edginton, who at that time I didn't yet know much about. The story's feel changed with Ian, but the grandeur of the tale wasn't lost. The final issue was handled by Chuck Dixon.
All in all, it may be one of the best examples of high fantasy done in comics.
It's very worth the reading time.