Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Jim Zub
Artists: Netho Diaz, Thiago Ribeiro
Released: 11th January 2017
Call me sentimenal, but it’s incredibly heartening that in this, the Golden Age of Geekdom (to totally not coin a phrase), one of the things that’s made a resurgence is Dungeons and Dragons. On paper (hah! See what I did there?) the contest between it and the now ubiquitous ‘vidya garmes’ the kids are playing these days seems like it’s over before it’s begun. And yet D’n’D is perhaps more popular than it’s ever been, and here we are, with a third mini-series of comics based on it. The nerdy teenager in me is dancing a merry jig, let me tell ya.
The story picks up where the previous series – Shadows of the Vampire – left off, with our heroes dumped in the cold northern wastes of the Forgetten Realms, with little-to-no means of keeping warm or feeding themselves. And as you might be able to guess, given the title of the series, some big dudes show up to throw a spanner in the works.
There’s some genuinely terrific stuff in Diaz’s line work, particularly in a mid-issue action sequence, where his excellent panel staging and the lovely contrasts between characters, effects and environments in Ribeiro’s colour-work combine beautifully. There’s a few figures whose faces distort rather curiously in pursuit of dynamic facial expressions – which seems to be a relic of Diaz getting used to drawing the characters, as it stops being a problem come the final few pages – but overall, it’s consistently good work from the pair.
Zub’s writing is solid as it ever was – there are a couple of eye-rolling bits of mid-fight dialogue, but that aside, and particularly with these characters now being as familiar as they are, there’s plenty to enjoy as the story unfolds. As ever, it’s a real joy to get more Minsc and Boo, and Zub – if nothing else – has the slightly mental ranger’s voice down pat. As far as quite where the story’s going, like any good D’n’D module, there are hints and clues at this stage of the game, but it remains to be see whether or not any of them pay off. If nothing else, Zub is an outstanding master of this particular vein dungeons.
It’s also worth noting that whilst this is part of a continuing series – preceded by Legends of Baldur’s Gate and the mentioned Shadows of the Vampire – this is impressively new-reader friendly, doing a great job of both catching you up, and tantalising you with the prospect of having more to read, provided you’re willing to do just a touch of prose-reading in the first page or so.
As a whole, this is yet another solid entry into IDW’s Dungeons and Dragons resurgence. If you’ve been enjoying them up to this point, you won’t be disappointed, and as said, new readers will feel more than welcome. Decent art and Zub’s stalwart storytelling bring it all together, and make it well worth a new year’s flutter.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24