Monday, 20 July 2015

Homelands #1

HOMELANDS #1


Please ignore the terrible cover, there's Rebecca Guay art on the inside!

SUMMARY 
On the world of Ulgrotha, a war is being fought between the Tolgath (“upstart planeswalkers starving for knowledge”) and the Ancients (“jealous wizards, quick and cruel to defend against any trespass into “their” mysteries”.) One of the Tolgath, Ravi, is overcome by the chaos and the fighting and rings the Apocalypse Chime, which destroys pretty much everything on the plane: creatures, artifacts, planeswalkers, even the mana lines of the plane itself. Only through one dimensional rift mana still enters Ulgrotha. Ravi survives, as she had locked herself into a special vault. Unfortunately for her, it doesn’t open from the inside…



Generations later, Ulgrotha has somewhat recovered. (The backmatter tells us that some of creatures summoned by the Tolgath and Ancient that were closest to the rift survived the Chime.) It is visited by the planeswalker Feroz, who promptly finds a didgeridoo. Blowing on it attracts the attention of Sandruu, a minotaur who Feroz recognizes as a potential planeswalker. The two bond, and then run into another planeswalker: Serra! Feroz immediately gets his flirt on.



Serra and Feroz talk about how this world is broken. It turns out that once you get far enough away from the rift you just find a massive dead zone. They start to entertain the idea of helping the plane recover. Then they are invited for diner at Baron Sengir's place. The good baron was dropped on Ulgrotha after a planeswalkers duel and afterwards decided to claim Ulgrotha as his home. He’d rather not see two planeswalkers disturb it. This only strengthens the resolve of Serra and Feroz though. Sengir settles in for the long game, as he thinks that planeswalkers can die of old age.


This was probably intended as canon at the time (more on that below), but in hindsight it makes Sengir look a little silly.
Years pass. Feroz helps set up the Wizards’ School, and Serra guides Aysen Abbey. Meanwhile the two fall in love. They also teach Sandruu, who ascends and heads off to explore the Multiverse. Through him the Armada myth-arc enters the plot of this comic. He stumbles upon Kristina of the Woods, and the two fall in love. Ravidel tells Taysir of this, who gets jealous and attacks Sandruu, chasing him to Ulgrotha. He manages to banish Sandruu to a “cold world across the galaxy”, but then Feroz faces him. When Taysir loses control of his own earthquake spell, Feroz ends the fight. Quite definitively.


And you thought Rebecca Guay only did quiet, contemplative drawings.


Taysir had mind controlled many Anaba minotaurs during the battle, of whom plenty died in the earthquake. To prevent something like that ever happening again, Serra and Feroz erect Feroz’s Ban, a barrier that keeps planeswalkers out of Ulgrotha. ("Oh how original" go Nailah and Azar). More years pass. Serra and Feroz get married, and Ulgrotha starts to flourish. They even think it will eventually have its own mana lines again. Then disaster strikes: a simple lab accident goes wrong, and Feroz is killed by the fire elemental he was studying. Later Serra, still in mourning, botches an attempt at rescuing a man from a runaway cart, only to be confronted by Sengir who manipulates her, talking her into leaving Ulgrotha.



Serra joins a group of wanderers in Sursi, where she is attacked by someone claiming to be a planeswalker. For a moment she fights back, but then decides she doesn’t “want this contest”, letting her opponent kill her. In that one moment of defiance however, she showed her old passion and was flanked by her angels, which inspired a monk among the wanderers to set up a temple devoted to her.


On Ulgrotha, Sengir is left behind. His home now devoid of planeswalkers, and even still protected from future visiters thanks to Feroz’s Ban. He should be happy, but even he seems a bit distraught by the downer ending…



REVIEW
You know what, I always start with the story before moving on to the art. Let’s do this review the other way around for a change. If I wasn't 100% on board with Rebecca Guay's art in Serra Angel, here it is just fantastic. The main difference is in the coloring. While Serra Angel was very dull and drab for most of the comic, save for a few splash pages, Homelands is much more vibrant and diverse. The smoky grey settings do come back in scenes of war and chaos, where it is quite appropriate. In contrast, the An-Havva Inn looks warm and cosy, Baron Sengir is framed in gloomy blacks and blues. Of course there is still the aquarelle blotchiness you´d expect from Guay´s art, which people either tend to love or hate, but if you´re okay with that this really is a gorgeous looking comic. (Kinda funny how I prefer the art here over Serra Angel, when that comic was clearly intended as an art showcase, filled with splash pages, while Homelands is all about the story. There's barely any splash pages here!)


This is one of the few.

So the art looks good, but in a comic drawing the individual panels is only half of the work. They also have to flow together well to tell the story clearly. You could call that the cinematography of the comic. Well, that's fine here as well, save for one pretty glaring error. Most scenes are allowed to play out for as long as they need and have very clear storytelling, but the crucial moment in which Taysir is defeated is rather botched. We just see him standing tall with a crack appearing in the ground underneath his feet. The next page starts with him on the ground, complaining about a broken leg. It falls to the narration to explain that Taysir summoned an earthquake but lost control of it, and that many Anaba minotaurs from Sandruu's tribe also died in this event. As I said, this is the only part of the comic that has this problem, but it's a shame that it is one of the climactic events which suffers from it.



In addition there is one part of the art of this comic that I really don't like... the cover. For the life of me I can't understand why they had the Hildebrandts do the cover of a Rebecca Guay comic. I've never been a fan of those guys' art in the first place (I mostly associate then with 7th Edtion era Magic art, a.k.a. the worst era of Magic art) but here they compound their usual problems by a) working in a style that does not even remotely match the inside art and b) drawing all the main characters terribly off-model. Sandru has those weird fish-lips and a blue beard, Feroz suddenly has a soulpatch and Serra goes up at least 4 cup sizes (possibly even more considering how thin her waist is.) Did they not even bother to check the character designs on the inside? And if they were going to use an off-model Serra and Feroz, why not use the lovely artwork by Rebecca Guay from the back-cover instead?


Just so everybody is clear: Feroz is not a brunette, and Serra is not a water-nymph.



Moving on to the story. I’ve complained that a lot of Armada comics tried to do too much stuff for their page count. Last time I was complaining that Serra Angel was doing too little. We’ll… let’s say that Homelands is baby bear’s Armada comic: it is just right. Scenes get all the space they need (except perhaps that battle scene with Taysir), characters have plenty of occasions to show their personalities and the plot never feels rushed. Taysir and Ravidel's involvement does come out of left field, but their story is of course expanded upon elsewhere, so I'm fine with that. While there is loads and loads more to tell about Ulgrotha, the comic wisely doesn't try to cram all that into the story. Instead it chooses to focus only on the story of Feroz and Serra, giving us many pages of backmatter telling us about all the other stuff. (More on that in the trivia section)

I also like is how atypical this story is for Magic. There is no impending apocalypse, as the end of the world has already come and gone. There isn't even a real antagonist! There's Taysir, but he's more of a random visitor wrecking havoc, an example of the danger Ulgrotha faces from planeswalkers and the motivation for Serra and Feroz for creating the Ban. You'd think Sengir would be the bad guy here, but after his dinner date with the planeswalkers he decided to sit the story out, and the good guys never try to take the fight to him. He's just hanging around in the background, waiting for his chance. The only thing he really does is talk to Serra in the end. Most Magic stories end with a big battle against the main baddy, not a stingy conversation, followed by a refusal of the goody to fight and closing on a muted lament. In the end this is a story of two planeswalkers rebuilding a world and falling in love in the process, then meeting tragic ends. It's a unique entry into the Magic canon.


Given the focus on the characters, it's a good thing that they are quite interesting. Feroz is great, and it is a shame he never appeared out of this comic. He kind of reminds me of the Doctor, driven to explore the multiverse by his own curiosity but with a very strong sense of justice that keeps him on Ulgrotha. His convictions extend to asking Serra not to kill a monstrous spider that was about to eat him since it "was only following its nature" and a refusal to summon intelligent creatures. (He does summon a Brass Man, once of which was shown to be intelligent in Tapestries, but that story seemed more like an in-universe fable anyway, so perhaps this is not a continuity error. Or perhaps Feroz never noticed the Brass Men he summons are sapient.) Luckily his morals aren't used as a tedious point of contention between him and Serra. In his first meeting with Serra, after she just saved him and Sandruu from the spider and is about to kill it he gets a little heated, but after Serra lets the thing go and explains that her angels follow her by their own choice the matter is settled. A good way to show how principled Feroz is without having us suffer through arguments over it.

Oh, and I also like how terrible he is at flirting. Subtlety is not his forte.



My other favorite character is Sengir. In fact, he's probably my favorite Magic villain despite how little we actually see him do. I love how he is willing to play the long game, how charismatic and manipulative he appears, and especially how isn't a stereotypical villain doing stuff for the evulz. Well, okay, he does feed innocent townsfolk to his horses, but... he's a vampire! If you feed on people, you start seeing them as cattle. That makes sense. And at the same time he's very human. He says that by being dropped on Ulgrotha he lost "all he knew and loved" and it's not hard to see his surrogate family (Irini, Granny, Veldrane) as him seeking replacements of whoever he lost by being summoned.


And the Autocrats, they can hang too. Picture by Pete Venters.

On top of that... well, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but with him sitting back while Serra and Feroz care for Ulgrotha, and with the backmatter saying that he raids Aysen not with the intention of conquering it but to keep the locals fearful of him... I get the idea that he isn't a would-be world conqueror, but someone who sees himself as elevated so high above the general populace that he considers all of Ulgrotha his plaything. He knows that ruling a world can never be as fun as conquering it, so instead he keeps everyone who could stand against him around but revels in playing them against one another.

But even if that is me reading too much into things and letting my fanon slip into my writing... you have to agree that the Baron is just hella sexy.

Sorin ain't got nothing on this guy.
As for the last of the main characters, Serra... I have something of a problem with her, but that may be later continuity ruining things for me. Let me try to explain. 

Here she's introduced as righteous but maybe a bit overzealous and quick to anger. Kinda Boros, so to speak. He relationship with Feroz tempers her anger, just as it makes Feroz more proactive. Over time they help Ulgrotha, but feel they can't let it go. "Pride tells them they are still needed here", says the narration. Only after Feroz's death and her talk with Sengir does she leave the plane. Then when facing another planeswalker she at first flashes with her old rage, then decides "I don't want this contest" and lets the 'walker kill her, reuniting her with her love. A bittersweet tale, I would say, about how the love between two people makes each of them a better person, though it can never make them perfect. So on it's own this arc for Serra works quite well.

But here's the thing... in the novel Planeswalker we will learn that she ascended after an unspecified disaster on her home plane and created Serra's Realm as a memorial to what she lost. Then in Time Streams we know she abandoned the Realm after it became infected by Phyrexia. So... now all of a sudden we have Serra as a character who doesn't help her home plane rebuild, only creates a memorial for it, then abandons that when it is in trouble, essentially trading it in for Ulgrotha, leaves that plane when her lover dies and then decided to let another planeswalker to kill her rather than to fight back. As much as I love Homelands, Planeswalker and Time Streams as individual stories, I kinda hate how together they turn Serra into someone who gives up and runs away every time things get hard and ends up essentially committing suicide. Serra is one of the most iconic characters from Magic's early days (And given the clamor for her to be the white planeswalker in the 2014 Commander product, she has not yet been forgotten!) and her angels have always been portrayed as righteous warriors for the good cause. I think having her run away from all her problems rather ruins the character.

Serra would turn up again in Scourge. Now, Scourge was a continuity train wreck, to the point where Time Spiral removed large chunks of it from the canon, but in the few years between Scourge and Time Spiral it seemed as if Serra might have survived. And while I was quick to declare all the other inconsistencies in Scourge as Karona's hallucinations, this resurrection I rather liked, as it gave us the opportunity to rehabilitate the character. My personal explanation of her survival was that as she lay dying in the care of father Angus, the monk who was inspired by her moment of defiance, she witnessed him struggle to do good in a harsh environment. As Angus drew strength from Serran teaching (In my fanon Angus was a Benalish Serra worshipper, who fled to Sursi after the Church of Angelfire discovered his worship. This is me writing a fan-fic: putting in as many continuity references as possible!), Serra started to realize she had become a goddess who didn't live up to the teaching of her own religion. Her apparent death was just her planeswalking away to start making amends. Of course, at that point Feroz's Ban was still up, requiring her to take indirect measures to influence Ulgrotha, which would kick off the rest of my Homelands fan-fic... but I won't go into that here. This review already has too much fanon in it.


Back to the actual comic, there is one minor complaint I still want to make: in her final conversation with Sengir, Serra says “Don’t play snake with me”. That just doesn't fit. It implies that somehow Serra is familiar with the story of Genesis. Of course, according to Arabian Nights Islam was brought to Rabiah from our planet by planeswalkers, so I guess Serra could've stumbled upon Christianity during her travels, but I just don't like these references to real world myths and religions. I find they break immersion.

But let's not go out on a sour note. Homelands is a good comic. I love the art, I love the premise, I love there characters and I love how different it is from the rest of the canon. It's probably my favorite Magic comic and I fully recommend it to all storyline fans.



TRIVIA
  • For those of you worrying about Ravi in her Vault, it's okay, she'll was saved eventually. At one point Baron Sengir stumbled upon the vault and releases her. Unfortunately at that point over two centuries have passed, so Ravi now looks ancient and is completely insane. Jup, Ravi is Grandmother Sengir! And check what she still has hanging around her neck when the planeswalkers come for dinner...
  • Despite getting his head chopped in two, Taysir's story is not yet done! In the backmatter of this comic we learn that the Anaba Ancestors held his spirit in their realm and for two-hundred years, soothing his rage and re-attuning him to his five souls. In the end he was restored to sanity and returned to the physical world, taking the form of an old man. He eventually took a young planeswalker called Daria as an apprentice. The two would stay on Ulgrotha until the Planeswalkers' War started.
Hopefully the Anaba also told him not to be a creeper.
  • Serra's Angels are apparently dead guys. The narration calls them "Souls of fallen warriors, taken new form in white mana". We don't have much insight in where angels come from on other planes (The Boros Angels are all clones Razia made of herself, but then where did Razia herself come from?) but the "Angels are reborn mortal heroes" idea is later recycled in Shards of Alara, where the dead heroes of Bant are transmogrified into angelic form.
  • Have a map of Ulgrotha. Judging by Feroz's comments, the point where all the lines converge must be the location of Castle Sengir.
  • Sursi, the place where Serra goes after leaving Ugrotha, is know from the flavor text of Mesa Pegasus. Years and years after this comic was released, when WotC was high on nostalgia thanks to Time Spiral block, they posted a bunch of info on Sursi on their website. There we learned that near Sursi there was a portal to, appropriately enough, Ulgrotha! It's description doesn't match the one seen in this hilarious commercial though...
  • In this review I've talked quite a bit about the backmatter of this comic. All the comics had some pages of lore in the back, but this one has the most by far. The reason for that? Scott Hungerford and Kyle Namvar, the two guys behind Homelands, were lore junkies. They worked out a whole backstory for Ulgrotha and wrote a document detailing the backstory of every single card in the set. As Scott Hungerford later became the WotC liaison to Armada the makers of the comic had plenty of access to all that stuff, allowing them to fill the back with looooads of lore tidbits. The "Homelands Document" detailing all the lore was later given to storyline old hand (and occasional poster on my blog) MORT/Ashtok, and has since then circulated the various storyline forums. Here it is posted on NoGoblinsAllowed.com. I intend to review it separately one day. When that day comes I will also deal with any inconsistencies between it and the comic, but for now I'll just say that I consider the comic to trump anything in the document, as actually published sources always take precedence in my eyes. And what is actually in this comic? Well...
  • First there is an article by Scott Hungerford on the creation of Homelands and its storyline.
  • Then there is a timeline of the events of Homelands, which I'll talk about below. One of the interesting things about the timeline not dealing with chronology, is that it mentions that Sandruu has "the planeswalking spark", another example of the slowly developing nature of how planeswalkers work in the canon.
  • There is "A brief history of Dominaria". This one's interesting as it shows that there was already some revision done by the time Homelands came out: it uses the timing of "About four thousand years ago" for the Brothers' War, rather than the greatly decompressed timeline we saw used in the Ice Ages comics, making the comic timeline synch up with the timeline from the Pocket Players' Guide. It's also interesting in that it gives Kristina's birth date as being before the Brothers' War, during the time of Legends and suggests that era may have come to an end with the creation of the Null Moon. That later claim will be debunked by The Thran, but the publication of that novel is quite some years away at this point, so this was considered canon for a good while. As for when Kristina was born... In a couple of week I'll do a big overview of all the messing that was done with the Armada timeline over the years. I'll talk more about it there.
  • There is an overview of Taysir's life, which I already posted when I discussed Alliances. This is where we are told about his breakup with Kristina and his later rehabilitation and adoption of Daria. It also tells us that the Anaba kept Taysir's spirit for two hundred years.
  • There's a really funny article called "Designers' Choice". I find it funny because Kyle and Scott start talking about the applications of the cards in Homelands, but as the article goes on their inner Vorthos comes out. By the end they are basically just talking flavor.

 
  • Finally there is a six page article on the backstory of Homelands, which also continues on where the comic left of. The info here and the lore stuff from "Designers' Choice" are almost all directly taken from the Homelands Document.



CONTINUITY
Up to now the continuity issues with the Armada comics were mostly due to later timeline ret-cons, but in Homelands we see the return of two old "friends" from the Harper Prism novels: wonky mechanics of summoning and wonky power levels on planeswalkers. Luckily the two Harper Prism anthologies have provided us with possible outs for these problems, but they still demand some discussion.

First, the summoning stuff. Being dragged from his home plane to Ulgrotha is crucial to the backstory of Baron Sengir, but nowadays we know that "summoning" actually means creating a copy of a creature from the Æther, rather than teleporting between planes. Luckily we still have plenty of account of revisionist (but pre-Mending) planeswalkers taking creatures from one plane to another, and in Distant Planes it was shown that teleport-summoning and Æther-summoning existed side by side, so we could just say that whatever planeswalker Sengir was summoned by preferred the first type for some reason.

The power level of planeswalkers is a bit more difficult to deal with. Sengir makes his boast of "You may extend you life, but I am eternal", which is a bit silly when you consider planeswalkers are just as immortal as vampires, but we can simply say that Sengir was misinformed about the aging process of planeswalkers. (Perhaps from Granny Sengir, who he found aged and withered in her vault?) There are are two harder to solve problems here though. First: if Serra and Feroz are planeswalkers, why don't they just barge into Castle Sengir and remove the Baron from his seat of power? Second: How do you explain that Serra gets killed by a dude who calls himself a planeswalker, but that this guy then gets taken out by a whack to the back of the head from an exhausted monk?



Most ignoble defeat of a planeswalker ever?

The way we've solved this in the past is saying that the people who claimed to be planeswalker but never displayed the expected power levels were just mortal wizards who discovered how to travel between planes. In Tapestries we actually saw the possibility of mortal wizards planeswalking made explicit. With the characters of Homelands applying that out is not that simple though. We know from revisionist novels that Taysir and Serra are proper, ascended, god-like planeswalkers. By extension you'd expect that Feroz and the unnamed baddy at the end would also be of that power level, since they were capable of killing Taysir and Serra. How to untangle this?

I think the easy one to explain is the baddy at the end. When he faces Serra she explicitly refuses to fight. It is not to difficult to read this as Serra committing suicide, especially if you also consider all the stuff added to her character in Planeswalker and Time Streams. If that is the case, I would say that this guy is a mortal mage claiming to be a planeswalker (perhaps having figured out how to do it, perhaps just boasting.) He could only defeat Serra because she let him, and could be defeated by brother Angus and his stick simply because he was still mortal.

What to make of Serra and Feroz not confronting Sengir? Surely as proper 'walkers they could raze his castle easily. Heck, Serra (we now know) created an entire plane herself! Why let themselves be bullied by a mere vampire? Even if Feroz was squeamish about killing him, just grabbing him and dumping him on another plane would solve things. Well, perhaps the Baron had some sort of deterrent? Like... the Apocalypse Chime? Or maybe something to do with the dimensional rift in his basement? Utilizing either explanation would need some modification of the original material. According to the lore the Baron doesn't understand much about the thing under his castle, and Feroz speculated that he didn't know all about the mana lines coming from it. According to the Homelands Document Granny even traded away the Apocalypse Chime to a random dwarf for some trinkets! Ret-conning either (especially the Chime thing, since it is rather silly and only comes from an unpublished sources) seems like a small price to pay for fixing a pretty glaring plothole. It would be a good explanation why two immensely powerful planeswalkers just let Sengir sitting there.

Having dealt with these two old school, almost traditional, inconsistencies, there is one more thing we need to talk about, one specific to Homelands. In the anthology Secrets of Magic there is a story called Song of the Plague Rats. In it a young girl loses both her parents when Plague Rats overrun her village. The son of the local baron teaches her a song to control the rats and reveals that his dad is the dark wizard responsible for the rats. The girl turns out to have immense magical potential and overpowers the baron, having the rats kill him. The boy is seemingly killed in the crossfire, but in the end is revealed as being immortal, though hurt by sunlight. Turns out his father did some dark magic on him as well. After all this the boy and girl realize they don't even know each other's names. He is of course the new Baron Sengir. The girl? Her name is Ravi.

While it is pretty awesome that the story called back to Homelands and that the author, Philip Athans, did enough research to remember Ravi, this does add an odd wrinkle to the Sengir backstory. Think about it. If Sengir and Ravi knew each other beforehand, it would be a spectacular coincidence that he just happened to be marooned on the same plane where she was imprisoned, and that he would be the one to find her in her vault. It also raises the question whether the Baron even knows that the crazy old woman he has cooking his food is actually his childhood friend! Personally I find this coincidence far to big and thus in need of an explanation. Perhaps when Ravi joined the Tolgath she introduced Sengir to her fellow planeswalkers, one of which tagged him. That Tolgath then missed the big war with the Ancients by a few centuries, but later did visit Ulgrotha and dumped Sengir there? Or perhaps... perhaps it was Ravi herself trying, in her madness, to summon a friend to save her from the vault! That would go against established canon (the backmatter of this comic clearly states that Sengir was marooned after a 'walker duel) but I think it would be a cool twist. But pick whatever explanation you like, or even accept the coincidence. The chances of Wizards' going back and telling a revisionist version of Homelands are pretty much 0 at this point anyway.

Note that the Song of the Plague Rats story does not state where it takes place. There castle described there does match Castle Sengir's art reasonably well, but that castle was, according to the timeline in the comic, build by dwarves. Perhaps Sengir had it remodeled after his formed home when he took it over.

Also note that this story shows that the link between vampirism and the Sengir name doesn't predate the Baron. And that he was young when Ravi was young, which probably places Song of the Plague Rats not long before the opening scenes of Homelands, in which Ravi is still called young. (Though that is of course a relative term when dealing with planeswalkers.) This has implications for the presence of a Sengir Vampire in the Serra Angel comic. As I said there though, that vampire is only called a Sengir in the backmatter, not in the story itself, so switching it to just a generic vampire isn't to much of a problem. We could also move Song of the Plague Rats back on the timeline a few centuries, but I think Ravi's impulsiveness makes more sense if she is genuinely young in the prologue of this comic, not just "young for a planeswalker".

Now we are talking about timeline stuff anyway...

TIMELINE
NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: Having reviewed a few more Homeland sources, I've reassessed the placement of Homelands on the timeline. See the Homelands Document review for the reasoning behind this. I'll keep this original write-up here for sake of historical accuracy.

Once again we are dealing with a rather tricky placement. Let's start with the timeline that is presented in this comic.


As you can see, this gives us a pretty clear timeline of all the events on Ulgrotha in relation to one another. Unfortunately it doesn't tell us much about when it happens in relation to all the stuff on other planes. The only link we have for that is Taysir's appearance, but for that we just know it happens after the gathering of the Sages of Minorad and before the Planeswalker War, which is a gap of about 1200 years. (More on that in a few weeks, when we deal with Wayfarer). The fact that the timeline goes up to "Present Day" may allow us to link it to the "Present Day" as I detailed in the Harper Prism wrap-up, but there is actually a more recent source dealing with the Homelands timeline.

The official WotC timeline gives us the rather vague dates of ~3800 to 4130 for Homelands. As you'll notice, that is a period of 330 years, which unfortunately doesn't match up with the 600 years timeline given in the comic. This inconsistency has given rise to a whole lot of theories. Some think that time may pass quicker on Ulgrotha than on Dominaria. Others think that years may simply be shorter because Ulgrotha goes round its sun quicker. Or maybe the timeline is simply a ret-con, and all the dates from the timeline have been further decompressed.

Personally have a different theory. I'd say the 3800/4130 time frame neatly matches the "Present Day" if the Brothers' War was "about four thousand years ago". Combine that with the fact that the official WotC timeline is based on expansion sets, not on novels, and that in the Homelands flavor texts Serra and Feroz are both "long since dead", and it seems to me that the timeline is talking about the Homelands card set and considers the events of this comic as backstory rather than story itself. This is also just a theory of course (Hrm... Maybe I should try to get in touch with Scott Hungerford about this...), so it's going to end up on my timeline with a bunch of big "possibly" qualifiers.

The timeline placement of Homelands is actually part of a much bigger debate. In Time Spiral (of all places) we learn that the ringing of the Apocalypse Chime reached the Talon Gates (of all places) from where it echoed to Kamigawa (of all places). There it destabilized the barriers between the mortal and spirit worlds, allowing Konda to steal That Which Was Taken and starting the Kami War, so the ringing of the chime has to be placed before Kamigawa. Unfortunately we can only place Kamigawa on the timeline thanks to comments made by Scott McGough on MTGSalvation.com, which place it relative to Legends II. Unfortunately again, we can only place Legends II thanks to comments made by Scott McGough on Phyrexia.com, which place it relative to Mirage. And triple-unfortunately Mirage has the same problem as Homelands, in that its story takes place over several centuries, but on the official timeline it only has 50 years allocated to it. As you can imagine getting into all of this will take an article at least as long as this (already rather long) one, so I'm saving that for another day. For now I will say that putting the "Present Day" from the timeline on the comic at ~3800 places the ringing of the chime long before the events of Kamigawa, no matter what interpretations of the Kamigawa/Legends II/Mirage placing you go with. When I've dealt with all those stories I'll come back to the question of how it all hangs together.

So... come back in a few years time for the definitive discussion of Homelands' place on the timeline, or come back next week when we pick up on the story of Ravidel and really start ramping up to the Planeswalkers War!

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