There have been two previous League of Legends comics published by Marvel. Lux was great and Ash was even better. The writer of Ash, Odin Austin Shafer, is back for more this week with Zed focusing on a character who isn’t quite so much a hero as a villain with heroic sensibilities. Zed is a xenophobic nationalist who murders, and even relishes in those dying, for the excitement and greater good. It’s a unique character to focus a reader’s attention, propped up by worthy fantasy ideas. Here are the top three worth noting.
#1: Cool League of Legends magic at work
Depending on the series, magic use ranges in the fantasy genre from rare to completely overused. In Zed, magic is used the perfect amount. You see it at work, but it doesn’t drive the story. When it is used, it helps inform the reader how dangerous the villain is or how our lead character is cunning. We see it in two very cool ways in this volume.
Early on, we get to see the villain, Jhin, try to draw him out utilizing magic that “unfolded the flesh on the victims face.” It’s a gnarly concept we see rendered by artist Edgar Salazar in a double page layout. Check it out below.
In another, we get to see Zed’s use of shadows. For a character who wields two sword gauntlets, it’s a handy power when fighting in close quarters.
#2: A dark philosophical way of living
Zed is a problematic main character. He’s focused on saving his own people and totally capable of letting innocent folks die. He even has a bit of glee smattered on his face when he murders. Basically put, letting one die to save the many is his way of looking at things. As a bomb is ready to go off, Zed even admits he could save folks but chooses not to.
Shafer does a good job revealing how he grew up midway through the book and how that informed his thinking.
As Zed explained, kill the threat before it can ever hurt anyone and you beat them to the punch. Then again, in that same story, he let the insects suffer on the web. For fantasy lovers, this way of thinking is quite interesting as other characters in this world will feel differently, but Zed can live this ideology out in the story. For better or worse.
Another element in this work that is worthy of fantasy lovers’ interest is the brotherhood Zed forms. He’s capable of letting innocent folks die, sure, but he also has deep ties to two men in his life. It helps humanize the character as well as inform readers of how a ruthless guy can form bonds. One of the most interesting is with Kayn.
Zed helped this character when he was very young and now he’s a bit older and wiser. He never forgot, though, and Kayn is a key character in the last issue. He not only helps Zed, but stands by him. He also pushes his buttons when he won’t let Zed live down a defeat he took midway through the book.
In a world where Zed can be the leading man — and totally despicable at that — there are still those that see him as a good person. That complexity is important in many fantasy stories and it works here.
This book works on three levels for fantasy lovers. League of Legends fans will love this because it fleshes out characters and plays into great fantasy themes. As a non-League of Legends player though, most folks should skip this book. It takes a while to draw you into the story and it’s quite hard to care about Zed, who is hard to root for. Aside from these three ideas which work great in this work, this is a trade most can skip unless they plan on getting into League of Legends.