Editor’s Note: Today, as with the Issue #1 of the Dungeons & Dragons Comic Book, we are offering TWO reviews for the price of one! Tizzbin will once again serve as guest-blogger for this Review of the Dark Sun Comic Issue #1, and you can click over and check out for the EN World Review by Neuroglyph. Enjoy!
I’m trying to imagine the conversation that happened when they were first developing the idea of a Dark Sun comic. “Okay! Imagine what would happen if Conan made sweet love to Kratos from God of War… And THEN, nine months later, from a union of pure testosterone and savagery: out pops our badass main character – GRUDVIK! He’s an awesome, tattooed, spiky armored, dark hero guy with a chip on his shoulder and a blade in his hand! Chicks of the desert – look out! BAM!”
And somewhere in the room, there was slow clapping…
I love Peter Bergting’s work on Hellboy. I’m starting by pointing that out just so that when I may sound critical of the art in this book, you know that it isn’t personal. I love stylized art, especially with a heavy emphasis on inking. Nothing can really transform the mind more that that edgy silhouette of a Mignola or Miller. But Noir and chunky blacks work best, perhaps, when not in a beige existence where the muddy colors of the desert at dusk do as much to bore the senses as they seemed to here.
But it’s the action, right? The ACTION has to be what brings you back in! And on some level, this is the case- when the action doesn’t feel muddled and confused. With all respect, that could do heavily to the color palette that colorist Ronda Pattison was working with – maybe ass-kickery is more fashionable in blues and reds than it is in yellows and muddy browns.
Let’s take, for example, the “combat” with the Cloud Ray: Here we have a giant beast to be feared and… oh, look – it’s flipping upside-down, I guess… and… wait… did Aki cast a mirror image spell on Grudvik and I missed it?! Why are there a baker’s dozen of him falling in different poses?!
Thankfully, Aki later informs us that that was to be symbolic of the two of them fighting together. So, huge love to Aki for explaining to me what pictures on a page couldn’t.
Regardless, the character design itself is visually solid, the landscapes are well conveyed, and the Silt Horror makes the comic at least worth a leafing, so while I may be a bit critical, I can’t say Bergting entirely missed the mark.
Have you ever watched the first episode of a television show, and then watched the pilot to that same series after the fact and thought, “Damn! I wish I would have seen that first… it all makes SENSE now!” Well, I think that if you didn’t have an opportunity to pick up Issue #0 of the D&D/Dark Sun comic, you’re going to be in that same boat.
The opening of the book tells us:
“After spending the night in the bed of a noble, gladiator Grudvik was arrested and sent to the market to be sold as a slave. He soon fought his way to freedom, but it could be shot-lived as a part-time slave hunter has been sent to retrieve him…”
First and foremost, it’s illegal to ‘bang’ nobles. See? That answered a ton right there, didn’t it? So, basically, we’re tracking Grunvik (the sex offender) who was carted off half-naked and then thrown into prison with all his armor on (huh?!) and managed to escape. Go figure.
What’s amusing is that in a Q&A regarding the new series, Bergting says of Alex Irvine’s writing that he loves the way Grudvik is written. He says he has a “tragic slant that (I) can play with so he’s not just another Conan derivative.” Well, without reading Issue #0, we miss that whole “tragic slant”, which makes it seem like our ‘hero’ is just another moody barbarian. If they really want to blow my mind, tell me that Grudvik can read and write. Because, you know… barbaric characters usually can’t… forget it.
Regardless, the story of this particular adventure is pretty classic. Boy meets boy, boy threatens to kill boy, boy travels across desert with boy, and… well… yeah – that’s pretty much where we end. Not much as far as depth just yet, aside from the fact that we know that Aki is really keen on the key Grudvik is wearing around his neck. A key that will, apparently, let them into a sealed off area in the Under-Tyr. A sealed off area that will undoubtedly be filled with gold, jewels, chocolate, and awesomeness – and certainly not traps, snakes, and death.
Because it always has to be snakes.
There aren’t any to be found here in Dark Sun… and this is why this book will fail miserably. How can you NOT include a plucky and handsome gnome in your book and expect it to go anywhere?
The Ending Word
With sparse dialogue and subdued visuals, the first effort in the Dark Sun series offers itself as a brief diversion, perfect for bedtime reading. Without a necessary investiture of consciousness – it’ll be over before you can even realize just how blasé you feel about it.
Here’s to hoping we’re pleasantly surprised by Issue #2!