Having tackled Robin Hood in Outlaw (2009) and King Arthur in Excalibur (2011), Lee now envisions Joan of Arc's humble beginnings to her inevitable martyrdom.
In 15th-century France, war and turmoil are constants as the French struggle to throw off English rule. Jehanne d'Arc, a devout country maiden, begins to receive messages from God after a fall and a consequent hit to her head. Her divine voices instruct her how to lead the French out of their occupation and restore the monarchy. At a time when women could be condemned for simply wearing men’s clothes or cutting their hair, Joan is a fearless trailblazer who leads by faith, strength, and conviction even though she knows that she will eventually be martyred for her efforts. Joan is evinced as a stubborn, confident heroine, but Lee keeps her likable by emphasizing her love of her family as well as her piety. Though Joan's fate is foretold in the opening pages, a heroic blend of epic battles and palpable wartime tension keep the pages flying. Illustrator Hart cleverly plays with perspective in many panels, some offering over-the-shoulder or from-the-ankles-up views of a scene and others zooming out with shadowy, indistinct features, then sharply juxtaposing the next with clear, close-up shots of emotive and defined faces, creating a dramatically cinematic feel. He and co-colorist Costa keep tight control over palette and lighting to complement this effect.
Striking visuals augment an already-captivating tale. (Graphic historical fiction. 12 & up)