While they dialed back on epic battles and big revelations, Sebastian Girner and Galaad explore some of the most mature themes yet in this issue with identity at its core. The introduction of new characters and new locations breathes new life into the series as Luvander faces a moral dilemma. Galaad's art continues to remain consistently good.
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In SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #8, Luvander sets out on a quest to answer the riddle that Akisbjorne raised in the previous issue: “Who are you?” So far, we know that Luvander is an Urden who chooses to live as a human and a treasure hunter with a heart of gold. Despite her good heart, some people see her as a monster. That’s why, in this issue examining the price of war and old views versus new views, it’s key that she encounters a conflict that questions her morality.

With the Dragon’s Maw dungeon long behind her, Luvander welcomes new adventures. Fortunately, adventure awaits when she meets a group of vagabond mercenaries who seek a land they have never seen but yet still yearn for.

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The Road Not Taken

Overall, SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #8 focuses on developing Luvander’s identiy. Writer Sebastian Girner and artist Galaad explore some of the issues that exist in Luvander’s colorful, mysterious world such as war and slavery. Luvander runs into a group of travelers who tell her that war awaits in the opposite direction. However, Luvander discovers that two rival factions are indeed marching to battle. Feeling annoyed, Luvander cuts through the forest. There, she stumbles upon a mercenary camp of elves at rest.

Image courtesy of Image Comics

The leader of the group–Captain Iriel of the Blades of Grass– knows that Luvander is an Urden and invites her into the bonfire. Iriel explains that once upon a time dragons and elves lived in Irilesh, a fabled land that the Blades of Grass are looking for. Iriel is not fond of humans despite the fact that one of the factions–The Baron of Ferngow–employs her group. In fact, Iriel believes that Urdens and elves are superior to humans. Eventually, Iriel gets informed that a large group of the Count of Hillhaven’s soldiers sets up camp nearby. Iriel enlists Luvander’s aid as the Blades of Grass prepare for the ambush.

To the Victor Go the Spoils

With Luvander’s aid, the Blades of Grass surround the Count of Hillhaven soldiers’ camp. Luvander gets impressed with how easily the mercenaries defeat the soldiers. Eventually, Iriel defeats the commander who has a key that Luvander takes. However, nothing is what it seems because Luvander finds prisoners and refugees in chains inside a cave. Iriel plans to use the newly captured soldiers for ransom against the Count. In addition, Iriel plans to sell the prisoners into servitude–a plan that angers Luvander. As a result, Luvander claims the group and demands that Iriel takes the prisoners away from the war and release them.

Ultimately, Iriel fulfills her promise and leads the captives out of danger. Luvander then liberates the prisoners and tells them to go their own way. However, this backfires because some people ask to go back. Likewise, others decide to become thieves. As a result, this stuns Luvander because, as the saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Despite having pure intentions, Luvander learns that being a heroine is a thankless job.


Image courtesy of Image Comics

The issue ends as Luvander severs her ties with Iriel’s group. As Luvander walks away, she says “Luvander. That’s my name captain. And I’ll not be chained. To the old world or the new.” Because Iriel has dated views about humans, this clashes with Luvander’s positive views about them. Iriel has never traveled with humans. In contrast to Iriel, Luvander bonded with Akisbjorne’s group in the Dragon’s Maw arc. Due to Iriel’s negative views, in the end, it feels satisfying to see Luvander get the last laugh on her.

Interview with SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS Creators Sebastian Girner and Galaad

Welcome Back Nature

Finally, Galaad brings back the great outdoors after several issues of dusty ruins! It feels refreshing to see rolling hills, sleepy woods, and flat coasts. Galaad colors the lush forests in autumn colors. Once again, Galaad makes use of hazy pink, blue, and orange mists — colors that are common throughout the series. However, the highlight of Galaad’s art in this issue is the Blades of Grass. Unlike the depiction of elves in films such as THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Galaad depicts elves with spiky ears and green eyes. When Galaad introduces Iriel, the latter looks menacing with her face tattoos and gauntlets. In contrast to them, Luvander has a twig in her hair and stands out. Overall, despite the serious themes, Galaad continues to draw expressive characters and lived-in places with lovingly detail.

Image courtesy of Image Comics

Also, it’s worth mentioning Galaad’s dynamic panel work in this issue. Galaad uses five panels on average but varies the panel sizes. For instance, in one action scene, Luvander kicks a soldier in a long rectangular panel. Conversely, Galaad emphasizes Luvander’s mouth and Iriel’s mouth in two separate scenes as they speak. Thus, through art, Galaad excellently elevates the power that both Luvander and Iriel possess.


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Closing Thoughts on SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #8

Ultimately, SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #8 adds complexity to Luvander and tackles some serious issues. Girner introduces a compelling villain in the form of Captain Iriel and the Blades of Grass. Also, we learn more about Luvander’s mysterious past. Who is Luvander? In this issue, Girner shows that Luvander is a quixotic champion of humans. Overall, this is a strong issue that hits a high note in its second half.

SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #8 will release on April 4th, 2018. Until then, you can pre-order it on Comixology. 

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