Editor’s Note: Today, we are offering TWO reviews of Issue #1 of the Dungeons & Dragons Comic Book by IDW, Tizzbin has offered to guest-blog this review, and you can click over and check out for the EN World Review by Neuroglyph. Enjoy!
It’s always a challenge to start a new comic series these days – even if you’ve got a bit of name recognition behind you. The challenge comes, then, from how quickly you can identify with the characters, and how engaging you can make not only the action, but also the plot, in order to hold the attention of your readers for the long term. It’s a fickle world out there, where the digital is taking over and attention spans are shorter, and so expectations are higher than ever. So the real question here is: Does the Dungeons and Dragons Comic Book have a place and a future on today’s comic store racks?
With variant covers available by Wayne Reynolds and Tyler Walpole, I feel that any comic seller who wants to see issues leave their shelves would be foolish not to opt to throw the Reynolds work on the top of Walpole.
Reynold’s work (left) is more dynamic and the colors more vivid to grab your attention and make you interested in what was going on inside. While Walpole’s work (right) is still solid and distinct, it does little to entice the senses, other than that vague feeling you may get that these might have been characters from a Saturday Morning Cartoon series that time forgot.
Under the cover is where the real gems are hiding, however, with work penciled by Andrea Di Vito, who has worked on titles ranging from Thor and Nova for Marvel, although the work I remember him best for was on the Brath series for CrossGen Comics (back before the company went under). Flipping through the comic, you can see the solid construction of the action, and the care given to the details on each page. Bearing that in mind, I’m stuck wishing I could see the raw pencils to fully appreciate the work of Di Vito, which feels diluted by the colors of Aburtov and Graphikslava, which seem to act AGAINST the art itself on occasions. The intensity of some of the background gradients and textures really seem to steal the attention away from the characters, and do a disservice to the flow of the comic. It’s a shame to see good work hurt by bad digital treatment, although they redeem themselves with some of their more simple nightscapes and, well, anything not in a cavern or the Fallcrest Warden’s Hall.
The easiest way to endear yourself to a reader is to create a memorable and lasting character, one who you can identify with and want to follow along their journey. If there is one flaw with first issues, it’s that you never can create that bond in the short time you’re given – and Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t even really seem to try. It’s almost as though you’re creating a D&D Essentials character when you read the story, “Your barroom was attacked! Are you the kind of person who steals and stabs stuff, heals things, shoots things from range, hits things with a sword, or has an amazing rack?” Well, I guess that when you decide what YOU would be, you can pick the character you’re supposed to identify with – as they literally lay out the heroes for you halfway through the book.
But the dialogue is fun and quirky, with some good one liners and some attempts at character backgrounds, although everything falls short and is easily forgettable because it spreads itself too thin. The pacing of the adventure itself is solid, however, and the story flows nicely from action sequence to action sequence. The tale also culminates is a fun cliffhanger-type ending involving fire, which god only knows I’m a sucker for. Although with the earth-shattering Ka-Boom on the final page (OMG! Spoilers!), I had to work to realize that the location of the action most likely DIDN’T come from highly explosive zombie orphans – which was disappointing to say the least!
Most importantly to ALL of the rest of the story was the inclusion of Copernicus Jinx, an immediately engaging and intriguing gnomish character who should be explored further, should they care to keep me entertained. The funny part about his arrival is that it comes right after I said to myself “boy, now that I know the characters, am I really INTERESTED in any of them?” while reading… and suddenly I am – and of course, it’s not an actual party member and his fate is still an unknown at the end of the first issue.
The Final Word
For the launch of a new series, Dungeons and Dragons does its best and delivers a first effort worthy of at least sticking with it through the next issue or two. So, pick up your copy and give it a flip, and feel free to share your opinions below – even if I may not agree with them!