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Earthsong: Vol. 1    by Lady Yates order for
by Lady Yates
Order:  USA  Can
Seven Seas, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Nameless and alone, a young woman sporting light purple-colored skin awakens on an unknown world. Before she can make sense of anything, two bands of power-wielding human-like characters battle for the right to take possession of her. The Mandragora seek the woman to help destroy and pervert the living planets of the universe under their leader Belousus, a rogue planet's essence filled with contempt and jealousy.

Nanashi and her friends seek to bring the woman to Earthsong, the essence of the planet they now live on. They explain why she has been teleported from her world and has since lost all her memories. Granted the name Willow, the woman must journey with her new companions - avoiding the maurauding Mandragora - back to Haven, where Willow will come face to face with Earthsong and discover things about the universe that she could never have imagined. Planets are dying and she is being enlisted to help save the universe.

Lady Yates's graphic novel is richly colorful to say the least - she utilizes the entire color spectrum in backgrounds, characters, and objects. She goes even further, using color within speech balloons, but does so with care. She uses other techniques with speech balloons to add a richer meaning to the words and emphasize sound and tone, that few graphic novels have managed. This one includes a handy collection of character profiles with quirky and humorous fun facts. Since the book originated as a web comic, she has included some fan-based artwork of her characters as well as exclusive links for people who've purchased the book.

Her action uses a variety of fades and blurring effects to highlight speed and movement, which increases the intensity of the fights. Drawn in traditional manga fashion, her characters resemble animated figures on a cartoon show, which doesn't detract from the art. However, the background holds a more realistic feel to it, that conflicts with the animated characters. While Lady Yates does keep most of her characters in the foreground, when she does intersperse characters into the background, it doesn't look as natural or as consistent as it can be. And the editing did miss several mistakes.

Earthsong, the first in a series, manages to pull readers in by providing a compelling and interesting plot, good-natured and mysterious characters, and an easy-to-follow narrative. Few graphic novels can deal with the potential destruction of planets with such ease and warmth.

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