Battle Chasers, published by Image Comics, is artist Joe Madureira's take on a sword-and-sorcery Comic Book, sometimes deadly serious and sometimes with tongue planted firmly in cheek, or in Red Monika's case... cheeks.
Five individuals were brought together by fate, which in this instance, is defined by accidentally releasing a multitude of that world's most heinous evildoers, and they end up becoming a most unlikely and reluctant band of heroes. The team consists of Gully, daughter of the legendary warrior Aramus; Garrison, a cynical master swordman and warrior; Knolan, an ancient sarcastic wizard; Calibretto, a "War Golem;" and Red Monika, voluptuous female rogue and leader of a band of airship pirates.
During its initial run, the series was somewhat of a big deal, reaching #14 on the Top 300 Comics list due to having strikingly wide appeal and the quality of its story and characters, to the point where movie rights for a film version were even purchased for a big screen adaptation. Today however, the series is more well-known as a punchline for Madureira's infamous lateness and for late comics in general, which, if you know the details of its release schedule, you can see why (Basically, Madureira produced a total of nine issues in four years, publishing two to three a year. Most other comics, in comparison, usually release an issue every month). The ninth issue, published in September 2001, had a cliffhanger-ending that was never concluded. Joe Madureira left the industry to pursue a career in video games, serving as creative director for Darksiders and Darksiders II.
A video game adaptation based on the comic, titled Battle Chasers: Nightwar, would later show up on Kickstarter. Developed by Airship Syndicate, a developer co-founded by Madureira following Vigil Games shutting down, managed to hit its funding goal in two days. The game, first released in October 2017, is a turn-based RPG, heavily inspired by games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy.
As one of the stretch goals for the game's Kickstarter, Madureira promised to write and publish new issues of the series continuing from where the story originally stopped. In early 2023, six years after Nightwar was released, Image Comics solicited a brand-new issue 10 of the original series for sale in June of that year. Madureira is still credited as writer, but art is being taken over by Ludo Lullabi, who previously worked on several World of Warcraft comic books.
Battle Chasers contains examples of the following tropes:
- Bald of Authority: The Maestro, leader of the Marshal Paladins (which Garrison used to be a legendary member of).
- Big Bad: August, apparently a former member of Knolan's party who went bad, was sealed away, escaped, and was hunting down his ex-comrades before trying to Take Over the World.
- Broken Pedestal: A later story had its villain, Sebastius Nefar, revealed as an illegitimate older son of Aramus — much to Gully's dismay.
- Dating Catwoman: Although Garrison chose — and lost — the "Betty" in his backstory, he and Monika were still close. (One bonus story by Adam Warren showed him promising to protect her from the Marshal Paladins in the past.)
- Dungeon Punk: Elements of this. There are a number of elements adapted from science-fiction, just with their technological origins replaced with Magitek.
- Mana: All of the magitek of the series runs on mana, and a greedy mage remarks that it's becoming something of a depleted resource, so he's overjoyed when a new source is discovered. It also works as its usual Life Energy variant, as Knolan remarks "almost out of mana!" when trying to teleport back to the capital from far away.
- Orphaned Series: Though looking to be adopted, with Joe Mad proclaiming that he WILL complete new issues as a stretch goal for the Nightwar Kickstarter. Though time will tell if he can keep on schedule.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: Bengus and Akiman are both named after artists / character designers from Capcom.
- Start of Darkness: The last published issue begins Sebastius' flashback about his childhood idolizing his absent father, until his hero reveals feet of clay in two of the most Tear Jerking ways possible:first, by having a child with another woman after leaving Sebastius and his mother behind. And then, by leading his men to slaughter everyone in Sebastius' village (including his mother), only sparing Sebastius to sell him as a slave (after taking the pendant that his mother orignally received from Aramus long ago — a pendant frighteningly like the one Gully keeps as a keepsake of her parents).
- Terrible Trio: Red Monika and her two sidekicks, Bengus and Akiman.
- Troperiffic: The other reason people remember this comic besides Monika and its Schedule Slips is the fact that the entire plot was basically a pastiche of every cool thing Madureira saw in an anime or video game within three years of publication. For its time, this was actually one of the main reasons for its popularity.
- Weapon Tombstone: An odd example. The grave of Garrison's wife has a crucifix-style tombstone, but Garrison's sword is inside it. Presumably to keep his promise that he would never use it again.