I bought this book on the Free Comic Book Day celebration at Mundo Fantasma, the one shop here in Portugal I still buy comics, if not for the price, which in Portugal is quite expensive compared to buying at Amazon.co.uk for example, definitely for the people working there, really helpful and and knowledgeable and to support the effort of maintaining such a business in a country with so little love for comics (yet, I hope). I knew nothing of Arcanum apart from the author, Brandon Peterson, from some of his Marvel works but the description of a story with magic and avatars always piques my curiosity.
Arcanum has a good original beginning, with an Avatar running from others being accused of murdering one of them as you find they are all trying to find a new Avatar who´s own power is just awakening and scaring her. The plot in then developed as a pyramid, with the reader finding out there is a worse villain each time he thinks he has seen it all. It is interesting to see the story from the new Avatar's point of view, as she actually doesn't know a thing about what's happening to her. Eventually we learn that the good guys' leader is brother of the bad buys' apparent/initial leader, and this is the first of many clichés that plague the story in my opinion. Readers find that the Avatar of Darkness is being manipulated by a human wizard that has been alive for 800 years and wants the power of gods. Then we find that there is an even bigger villain, Death, who seems to see everyone's death as the one way to end humanity's and his own suffering and has been manipulating every Avatar to that end. As the Avatar of Life, the new avatar, exposes Death's plan, the Avatars run with their power through a portal to the god's plane and Death and a now powerless wizard stay behind with their plans frustrated. One point in favour of the story was keeping Death initially as an accepted neutral being and having an Avatar of Life without an opposing Avatar of Death (Death is described as a cursed immortal man, different from the Avatars) even though in the end it's Life that exposes Death's machination.
NO MORE SPOILERS
I must say I enjoyed reading it, even while feeling the story was told too fast, finished hastily and was cuffed to some clichés. It was still quite interesting to learn the mythology created, the development of each group's relationship and the way the Avatar of Life reacts to her power, stands out for what she believes and ends up having a definite importance to the whole plot. The illustration is very good, adding a lot to the story and to help understand the characters' personalities.
Style - 7
Creativity - 5
Entertainment - 7
Relevance - 3
Overall - 6
I am still reading The Grapes of Wrath and I feel it's going to take me a while to finish it and I might read something else while I'm at it.