In The Shadow of Memorial


Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis’ six-issue series for IDW hit the fourth part this last week, and with that came a few reveals and a lot more world-building. With lead character Em established now (although not delved into particularly, so as to better keep her mysterious), Roberson is heading full-on into creating the strange and curioser lands of Memorial, where different Imaginary Kingdoms stand alongside each other and attempt to establish themselves. Each is ruled by a different Queen, although two have recently gone missing and the third is hiding out by herself. One rules over the land of Is, where things exist. One rules over Was, which is where things that no longer exist go. And the third is Maybe, where things which might or might not exist live. The worst thing you can do is go from Is to Maybe to Was.

Based on the map we get to see in issue #4, Is and Was are rather largeplaces, with the tiny Maybe Realm an island inbetween. There’s also a small isle to the far side, which I’m assuming is where the Court of Shadows are based. This may be wrong, and the middle island may actually be the Everlands, where Em is currently wandering, lost. I haven’t quite pieced together everything yet, but Roberson is slowly starting to show off the whole of his small Kingdom.

If I remember correctly the three sisters who rule as Queens, and quarrel bitterly with one another, are called Moment, Memory, and Maybe. Moment is the only one around at the, uh, moment. The other two have been fighting one another, and one of them, because of this, has sent a group of assassins to capture Em, and gather the key around her neck which leads to the real world. Luckily for her, the Everlands are where people who might exist (actually this suggests that the Everlands are part of Maybe, doesn’t it? Ah, this is all getting confusing. Vintage Comics Vanguard!) have banded together to fight back. People like Robin Hood, Sinbad and Mulan are all here – did they ever actually exist, or were they created from myth? – and ready to help Em in his slightly vague mission.

The series has slowed down a little with this issue, as Roberson clearly wants to make his World more defined and fill things with new characters. Memorial is planned to be a group of miniseries which build on one another to create a full, Kingdom-spanning epic (in the style of Locke & Key), so we have to invest some time in creating the world that future stories will also take part in. It’s unlikely we’ll see resolutions to many of the dangling plots currently hanging from the pages – the warring Queens, the villains, the consequences of having so many fictional and non-fictional people knocking around – and will see focus snap back to Em for the last two issues.

There are a lot of things going on here which’ll probably make most sense once the first miniseries has wrapped up. And even more which probably won’t be rounded out until the entire story, however long that might be, concludes. But when the World is crafted so intricately as Ellis colourist Grace Allison (who does a simply fantastic job every issue, and especially seems to enjoy colouring in sunsets), that’s not really much of a problem. Memorial remains one of the most entertaining, engrossing stories available right now, and every new issue digs up something strange for readers to pore over. The big reveal at the end isn’t actually that big, in and of itself. But because everybody else seems to be so shocked by it, there are hints that even more mythology is going to be woven into the storyline. And that couldn’t be more fun to anticipate.

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