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The series lasted for 42 issues (40 regular ones and a 2-issue "post-end" story), drawn with manga-inspired art. It ended only because authors wanted to give an ending to the plot, following the tradition of manga - which, unlike many U.S. comics (on which format most Brazilian comics are shaped), have a beginning, a development and an end.
There are many references to anime titles on the issues. From anime theme songs being sung by the characters (namely by the elven mage Niele, who makes constant references to Pokémon throughout the series, sometimes confusing main character Lisandra) to anime characters hidden among the crowd.
The success of the series can be seen in its spinoffs, which include special issues that portray each of the main characters individually, an audio CD with professional voice actors playing the characters, an RPG book based on events in the series, an artbook with original sketches, and even a new edition, which sends the comics back to newsstands, this time with new covers and more pages per issue.
The English name Holy Avenger was given to the series because it can both refer to a famous D&D magical item and one of the main characters, the Paladin. A Portuguese name would have been gender-specific to indicate either the sword or the fighter, and thus wouldn't work the same way. In this case, the title becomes "Vingador Sagrado" (male gender) or "Vingadora Sagrada" (female gender).
Originally, Holy Avenger was an adventure for a D&D game published in the RPG magazine Dragão Brasil, issues #44 to #46, in 1998. Positive feedback encouraged author Marcelo Cassaro to do something more with the characters, and gave him the general idea of the published adventure. In 1999, Cassaro made up his own RPG setting, called "Tormenta" (Storm, referencing an extraplanar storm that afflicted the campaign setting's world), which has been very successful with Brazilian RPG fans. He included the Holy Avenger characters in this new RPG setting. As he had already had modest success publishing his own comic books, in 1999 he teamed up with Erica Awano to start an ambitious project – a brand-new ongoing monthly comic series, an idea that had almost no chance of surviving in the Brazilian market.
Initially, sales were highly unsatisfactory, but after about 10 issues the magazines took off.
The series was sent back to the newsstands through the short-lived Holy Avenger VR, which lasted only seven editions, and through Holy Avenger Reloaded, which had more pages and extra material.
After 42 issues and a handful of spinoffs, an even more ambitious project is at a starting phase: a Holy Avenger animated series.
The plot revolves around a 19-year-old girl, Lisandra, a druid who was raised by animals on the island of Galrasia. She starts having dreams about the Paladin, a hero who mysteriously disappeared a few years ago. This Paladin had in his armour the Rubies of Virtue, twenty magical gems forged by each one of the twenty most powerful gods of the world of Arton. The gems were scattered all over the world after the Paladin's disappearance, and, according to Lisandra's dreams, it is up to her to find them and return them to the Paladin, in order to revive him.
At first, with her "cousin" (a cave wolf), she discovers that one of the rubies was in the possession of a man who was cursed into a dragon form. Unable to fight the dragon on her own, she begins a quest to find the great thief Galtran, and so she travels to the city of Valkaria. This is the first time she left her island, and she knows no other human being. So, in the city, her "cousin" draws the attention of the city guard. She explains that it means no harm and she is only looking for Galtran. The guards passing by say that everyone is looking for him. When she says that she wants to hire him, they tell her that she must come with them. The wolf fatally attacks one of the guards to protect her. For wanting to hire a thief and being responsible for the death of a city guard, she is arrested. On the same night, Sandro Galtran (son of the great thief Leon Galtran) comes to rescue Lisandra from the palace's dungeon. After managing to escape, they go for the Ruby. The search for the Rubies spawned a multitude of plot twists and flashbacks to Arton's past events.
The main characters of Holy Avenger are:
Lisandra: A 19-year-old half-driad girl, raised by animals on the island of Galrasia. She is on a quest to reunite the 20 Rubies of Virtue to resurrect the Paladin.
Sandro: The son of Leon Galtran, the greatest thief of Arton. He frees Lisandra from a prison and helps her to find the Rubies. Sandro wishes to be a great thief, like his father, but he is very clumsy and untalented.
Niele: A busty and attractive elven mage, that dresses only with leather strips, she is famous for having saved the city of Malpetrim from a water dragon. She meets Sandro as he tries to steal her Ruby of Virtue. She ends up helping him with his hunt for the Rubies of Virtue.
Tork: Tork is a trog, a species of reptilian humanoid. He is very short for the standards of his race, and was abandoned by his tribe when he was a baby. He makes a living as a mercenary. He is the one who taught Lisandra to speak, use clothes, and walk on two legs. Because of this, he calls her his daughter. He ends up helping her find the Rubies of Virtue. He usually does not think twice before rushing headlong into battle, and has a foul mouth (being him the only character who curses in the entire series).
The Paladin: The Paladin was once the Paladin of Jallar, a lesser goddess, but she killed him out of jealousy. He was resurrected and joined a group of adventurers. He later had his body infused with the 20 Rubies of Virtue by one of his ex-companions, Vladislav, granting him extraordinary powers and making him a legendary hero.
- Former Official Site, as it was on 2007-03-26.
- The twenty gods of Arton - an example of Awano's work