Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: James L Sutter
Artists: Tom Garcia, Mohan
Released: 11th November, 2015
Ah, Pathfinder. Our last meeting went so well – you, a well-meaning adventurer galavanting into the dark and dingy tavern that is BCP Towers. Me, the grumpy barkeep who proclaims that your kind is not served here. Good times, no?
Okay, so maybe – as a grumpy barkeep – my perception of good times is a little skewed, and in good need of a shakubuku. So in that spirit – and also armed with the fact that I now know these characters – I’ve decided to attempt to become that spritely barkeep who suggests where the local goblins in need of murdering are, and offers a handful of shiny coins and a wee dram in compensation.
So! To business. Our intrepid group of adventurers – Valeros the fighter, Ezren the Wizard, Merisel the rogue, Kyra the Cleric and Seoni the sorcerer – find themselves tasked with exploring the titular ruin of Hollow Mountain, an ancient city that was all but destroyed by a historic ‘Earthfall’ (in layman’s terms: big ol’ rocks fell out the sky and smooshed it).
There’s a curious exuberance to Garcia and Mohan’s collaboration on the art. Garcia’s figure-work is exceptional, though there are a couple of jarring storytelling transitions where the action jumps ahead perhaps a beat too many. Still, it doesn’t ever derail, and Mohan’s colour-work is a delight, expertly contrasting colourful characters with the to-be-expected dank dungeon to be crawled through. Particularly pleasing are the way that the two combine when magic is being tossed about – the colourful prestidigitations are a joy to behold, and letterer Bill Tortolini gives them further weight with delightfully designed onomatopoeia.
Overall, however, there does remain the fact that the entire thing is fairly esoteric – existing fans will, simply put, get more of a kick out of this than anyone else. That said, this is also the most accessible Pathfinder tale to date – the back-story fairly easy to pick up via implication and, if pressed, a few minutes on Google. There’s none of the tedious referencing of seemingly-more-exciting previous adventures that plagued the last volume. Sutter has taken great pains to ensure that the action is here, now, and we even get a character who’s not above pointing out the ridiculousness of it all. There’re also a couple of interesting twists on your usual RPG-to-comic tropes, which is engaging enough to keep fans of tabletop action intrigued. So if you are looking for a moment to commence familiarising yourself with the lore of this land, there have been worse moments to try.
At the end of it, this does read far better than City of Secrets. Sutter’s approach is defter, albeit bound in what precisely can be done by the lore of the world. The ongoing character arcs continue to develop interestingly, and it’s all incredibly solidly put together, a couple of editing hiccoughs aside. Worth at least a browse thanks to the energetic artwork, and it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this volume pans out.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24