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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

NULL-MYTHS: RAGNAROK BOOKS 1-10 (2002-04)



Since the theme of the "null-myths" essays is to focus upon narratives that I deem "inconsummate"-- that is, showing a mythic potential that goes unrealized-- I suppose it might seem inappropriate to cite a work that has gone literally unfinished for the last ten years. Still, artist-writer Lee Myung-Jin did complete ten volumes of the comic before he allegedly started devoting his full attention to an online RPG based on RAGNAROK. I suppose I'm of the opinion that if the fellow had possessed any ability to imbue his jumble of borrowings from Nordic stories with genuine mythic resonance, that ability surely would have showed up after 10 volumes, no matter how many story-arcs remained up in the air.

Though Lee's work was conceived as a manhwa first and became a role-playing game afterward, RAGNAROK has a sketchy feel, as if its invocations of mythic characters and situations was never meant to be more than minor set-ups for a game's action. Nevertheless, though I'm not a player of RPGs, I have occasionally seen such simple set-ups turned into competent if not especially complex narratives: 2012's DRAGON AGE: DAWN OF THE SEEKER being one example. The Dragon Age scenario at least plays out its simple conflict of knights and wizards with some attention to the consistency of its mythos.

In contrast, Lee merely treats Norse myth as a grab-bag from which he can swipe names such as Balder, Loki, and-- most laughably-- "Fenris Fenrir." Fenrir, according to current wisdom, was the name of a Nordic wolf-god, which was apparently mistranslated as "Fenris" in early renditions. For Lee to use both names, the correct and the incorrect, for the name of a female character who doesn't even possess any lupine characteristics attests to his disinterest in the connotations of the stories.

I suppose as dopey "dungeons and dragons" fantasies go, RAGNAROK is no better or worse than a lot of them, and it may be that I'm including it here to justify the effort of having plowed through all ten volumes. But given that Lee Myung-Jin projected finishing this superficial opus within no less than thirty-three volumes, the fact that it's literally incomplete may be the best thing about it.


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