- Posted by Ed Sizemore on March 10, 2011 at 10:37 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: story by Rob Vollmar; art by MP Mann
- PUBLISHER: Archaia; $19.95 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
In Iananna’s Tears, the city of Birith is facing dramatic changes. The En (high priest) is elderly, and a successor must be chosen. The leader of the mountain people who settled outside the city, Belipotash, no longer wants to live in a tent and rule over farm laborers. He has greater ambitions. He has chosen this time of transition in the temple to make his move.
We can read the mythologies and writings left behind. We can visit the ruins and experience the landscape. We can study the statues, pottery, and clothing. But the one thing we can’t do is know the mindset of our ancestors. We can’t see the world through their eyes. So Rob Vollmar and MP Mann can’t be faulted too harshly if their slim graphic novel fails to make the 5,000-year-old Sumerian world come to life.
The major flaw in Inanna’s Tears is there is too much story and not enough pages. There isn’t any room to explore the world and beliefs of these ancient people. For example, the minister in charge of accounting is developing a more comprehensive writing system. He has chosen to preserve the temple invocations on clay tablets. The En is upset when presented with these writings. That’s as far as the matter goes. We are never given reasons for the En’s reactions.
When the ambitions of Belipotash are made know to the En, she chooses not to prepare the army. Instead, she seeks to quench his desires by offering him more land. Is it because she doesn’t believe the city residents can defeat the mountain people in battle? Is it because of her religious beliefs? There is no seeking divine counsel. There is no call for a time of prayer in the city. Her decision is never adequately explained.
Since Innanna’s Tears isn’t a detailed exploration of the beliefs and customs of these ancient people, it’s not clear why the story is set in this time period, other than for novelty reasons. This feels like a wasted opportunity. If the setting isn’t meaningful to the story, then why not stick to contemporary times? Otherwise, the setting comes across as a facade and an affectation, as it does in this book.
Mann’s art does a nice job of making the Sumerian reliefs come to life. The stylized minimalism works well to evoke a feeling of ancient times. The use of muted colors makes it seem like we are looking through the veil of time. (See a sample in the book’s Flash trailer.)
The ending of the story seems to make all that happens in the book meaningless. Maybe that’s Vollmar’s point. However, it will also make readers question why they should read Inanna’s Tears. The quick plot and lack of character development makes the book unsatisfying. There isn’t enough here to justify the time or money. Comic fans looking for historical fiction would be better served by Age of Bronze or the Prince Valiant collections. (The publisher provided a review copy.)