Building a fantasy world from the ground up is no small task. Stjepan Sejic, best known as the artist on Top Cow books such as “Witchblade” and “Artifacts” knows this as well as anyone else. For the past 11 years, he’s been building and crafting the world he’ll soon unveil in the pages of “Ravine” from Top Cow Productions. The artist took his time in creating the world, but also enlisted the help of a friend and collaborator to help him along the way: Ron Marz, writer of the previously mentioned Top Cow comics. With Sejic in the driver’s seat and Marz along to help, the two developed the concept as a series of graphic novels, the first of which debuts in February.
When it comes to engineering a story as big as “Ravine” — the first “issue” clocks in at 128 pages — a solid grasp on the characters is a must, and both creators have just that. When Comic Book Resources spoke to Sejic about the book in more general terms, it became abundantly clear he knows his characters inside and out. It also became clear due to the scope of the series that it might help potential readers to have a cheat sheet when it comes to exactly who some of these characters are. CBR News asked Sejic to run down ten of the most pivotal characters inhabiting “Ravine,” starting with the perceived bad guy of the bunch.
Nebezial is a complex and tragic character. But as no one truly considers himself or herself “evil,” it would be a gross oversimplification to call him a simple villain. At best, you could say he is a tortured man with a purpose. He seeks his redemption, and is torn apart by guilt.
Now I have to cherry-pick in order not to reveal too much. See, Nebezial was one of the three greatest heroes of the alliance: King Nebezial Asheri of Aphelion, Raven of the North. He was once an honorable king, a good husband and father. After his wife is slain by a traitor, and he himself poisoned and deformed, he starts seeking a way to bring her back. He decides to seek help from an ancient sinner called Delphi Bellarya. Releasing her is considered an ultimate taboo, so the lords of Aphelion decide to give Nebezial’s friend and son-in-law-to-be Azriel Sanreya the authority over the armies in order to stop the king in his madness. Azriel is joined by his fiancee, Nebezial’s own daughter Calisto Asheri.
Nebezial was joined by his loyal forces, and on the Evermoor Plateau, the deciding battle took place. Enraged by Azriel’s treachery, Nebezial is about to execute him, when his daughter Calisto warps in front of the blade, taking the deathblow upon herself.
The rare survivors of that day claim that it was then that the last ounce of humanity was gone from the king’s face. He released the sinner Delphi. To stop her from leaving, Azriel sacrificed himself by destroying Evermoor Plateau. It is believed that King Nebezial died on that day. But many beliefs are often proven wrong.
Stein Phais claims to be a cartographer, an honest man’s work. He also claims he is less than useless in a fight. But they say that in a dangerous world lies are often the best way out of trouble. However, the truth about him is a terrifying one. They say only two necrytes made their way into the new world. The first one was Varda Balahadd, and the second one was known as the reaper of Ardunat. It is a name Stein never really liked. The truth is necrytes are paragons of destruction, capable of leveling armies, but due to the unnatural way they form spells, they cannot aim their spells. A necryte, while alone, is perhaps the most dangerous force in the world, but Stein never liked being alone. Those who know him have worried about his sanity before, as they often found him talking to himself. All he ever wanted was the ability to protect those he cared for, but fate had different plans. Even fate’s own servant was shocked when she realized that this man, a necryte was to become fate’s champion, a wanderer.
Lynn de Luctes
Lynn de Luctes is one of the last two remaining descendants of the Corredan bloodline. Lynn is the heir to the throne of Dregya, who was, at the age of ten, sent to Palladia during the great plague that ravaged Dregya. In Palladia, Evelyn de Corredan has assumed identity of Lynn de Luctes and was trained as a dragon of the kingdom. When the turmoil in the alliance resulted in the need for the Dregyan heir to be crowned, Lynn chose a different path. During the sealing of ancient weapons, she successfully sealed a Grimlas Spear, and became a paragon of fate, a wanderer.
Captain Arianna Balthasar
Captain Arianna Balthasar is a well-known tactical mage in Palladia. An accident prevented her from further climbing the military ranks for a while, and now she is content in leading her squad. While a beautiful woman, she is very self-conscious as the accident that cost her her leg also left about half of her body covered in scars.
The gift of dragonmind, or dragonmastery, is among the rarest gifts in Ravine. Dragonmasters are the only ones except for riders and those of Corredan blood who can actively control dragons in battle, turning them into an organized military force. Each dragonmaster is equal to a general in ranking. Kingdoms have for ages been leading a secret war, trying to eliminate or kidnap each other’s dragonmasters. Valerius was sold to Palladia’s service by his uncle. Price was no less than lordship. Needless to say, Valerius never truly felt the sense of patriotic love for Palladia, but he did find comfort in closeness to his commanding officer Arianna Balthasar.
Of all the countries of the alliance, Waroda was always the most isolated. Keeping their technologies and rituals to themselves, Waroda, though small in size, wielded power to oppose even Dregya if needed. Its true power lies in the Breathtakers, an elite class of sharpshooters equipped with skysplitter bows. These bows are kept so secret that they are made with a built-in self-destruct mechanism to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. By request of King Godwyn of Palladia, Warodan Hannum has sent an elite Breathtaker, Sairan Aradee, to guard Valerius Mordine. Over time, Sairan and Valerius have become best friends. This helped Sairan to diminish the pain of being away from his family.
Antheus Prayne of the Deep Sight, also known as Antheus the Hammer, is the only man that was successfully trained by the Shivas, even reaching the second rank of Khadi. Now he serves as the first Praetorian to become king of Palladia. When trouble arises, he is sent by the king to find out the cause of the strategic attacks on the Palladia region.
Eines of Hadria
Little is known about her as she prefers to keep to herself. However, a smart person would realize that you don’t mess with the woman to whom even the King of Wade bows without hesitation.
Orlin of the Mesadee
Mesadee Rippers aren’t as well known as the Shivas Blademasters, but they prefer it that way. The less people speak of the Rippers, the better they are doing their job. And their job is to keep the enemies of the Saradrion empire silent… forever.
Old and strong, the half-blooded chief has seen many things. He was there when the Necryte fell, and rumors persist that he had even seen the original fall of Ardesh, and the rise of the Whisperers. Many rumors surround him, but only two things are certain. There is no blacksmith that can match him, and stay away from him when he is drunk.
Sejic provided an additional character gallery to CBR below. To see all these characters and more in action, check out the first “Ravine” OGN from Stjepan Sejic, Ron Marz and Top Cow on Feb. 13.