Review – Dragon Age: Magekiller #2 (Dark Horse Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artwork: Carmen Carnero, Terry Pallot, Michael Atiyeh
Release Date: 20th January, 2016

The first issue of Dragon Age Magekiller suffered a little from over exposition. The second issue is the reward for that little piece of sufferance. Having now set out some of the basic history of Thedas, we jump right into the story.

We join Tessa and Marius where we left them, tricked into a meeting with the Archon Radonis who wants them to kill some people. He can’t have his people carry out this task for fear any connection of the deed leads back to him. An ex-slave of Tevinter that makes a living as a Mage Killer though? That is the perfect patsy, and Marius and Tess know it, just as they know they have no option but to take the commission. Or suffer some terminal consequences.

This is where things start to get interesting for followers of the franchise. The four targets the Archon wants eliminated are all member of the Venatori. Yes, that Venatori. From Dragon Age Inquisition. Do I have your attention now? Well, I can go one better: one of these four Venatori goes by the name Calpernia…

I’ll guess after reading that last sentence you’ve just added this title to your pull list, right?

As well you should!

For those not acquainted with the lore, The Venatori are a rogue Tevinter sect that want to see the restoration of the former Empire. The Tevinter Imperium of old used to rule all Thedas. If this happens the head of the Chantry (the religious body in Thedas) would call opposition, and Civil War would ensue.

So the story is starting to take shape within the Dragon Age timeline and we are seeing a few familiar connections. That is a pull for those familiar, but it’s also a great read for those not conversant with the franchise. Greg Rucka (LAZARUS, BLACK MAGICK) is weaving an interesting tale which is leading into the events at the beginning of Inquisition. Tessa is an affable narrator, in keeping with the tradition of Varric (who narrates parts of Dragon Age 1 & 2). We warmed to her in issue one as she’s the light comic relief of this duo. In this issue we get to know a little more of Marius, his past giving a little more shape to the stoic mercenary we met before.

We’re also treated to a segment showing Tessa and Marius completing their assigned hits for the Archon. It’s quite a cool little sequence where we get to see how this team works, fully illustrated as Tessa narrates over it. It’s almost like a heist scene in a film, reminiscent of something like Ocean’s Eleven. Additionally it shows that this duo can be all business and are quite deadly, it’s a fun piece of writing.

The pencils and inks of Carmen Carnero and Terry Pallot continue to impress. The fashions of Thedas are distinct, from the workshift garbs of the Free Marches to the opulence of Orlais. Tevinter styles are eloquent to outlandish, an adequate representation of the prideful mage nation. None more so than the Archon himself, and it shows the duo have done their homework here. For me though, the artwork shines in the backgrounds. The architecture of Tevinter coupled with the representation of space and perspective is impressive. In these striking backdrops the telling of the story is subtly interweaved which adds some extra punch to the narrative.

The art is also strong in the interplay between Tess and Marius. The writing shows they are a familiar team, working flawlessly together in their role as assassins. The representation of this in the art only strengthens that foundation, especially in scenes and the start and end of the issue. It shows both a touching familiarity and a ruthless efficiency in our main characters.

Michael Atiyeh’s colour palettes in the various scenarios of the issue are also well chosen. The deep and rich colours used in the scenes in Tevinter especially. The subtle red, orange and purple hues impress in its perceived regality as the once ruling city of Thedas. Away from the city, in the Frostback Mountains, the colours are more pastel in nature. The off whites used to colour the sky impress the authenticity that the scene is high in the mountains and out in the wilderness. As a marriage between three visual collaborators it works well.

Issue two of Dragon Age Magekiller is a resounding success. I did hope that the groundwork that held back issue one a little would be worth the wait, and I’m glad to see that true. The story will be an interesting one for those oblivious to the DA mythos, but it’s to those of us that have played the games it will be the most appealing. It’s great to get a story that is [i]so close[/i] to the events of the game, yet separate enough that it doesn’t contradict anything in the game itself. I’ve a real hankering for the next issue now, especially on the back of this episodes conclusion – I wasn’t expecting that to happen so soon!

Rating: 4/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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