Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: B. Dave Walters
Artwork: Tess Fowler
Colours: Jay Fotos
Lettering: Tom B. Long
Release Date: 20th March 2019
IDW’s D&D-inspired stories have always been, for the most part, entertaining reads. And while I’m not particularly familiar with writer B. Dave Walters’ resume prior to this series, I am a massive fan of Tess Fowler’s artwork, so her involvement alone was enough to convince me to check out the first issue of A Darkened Wish, on sale this week.
Walters’ structure is sound, delivering a hot opening as a band of powerful fantasy archetypes prepare themselves to repel an invasion from a marauding horde. However, before the nameless “big bad” can descend upon them, we’re whisked back to the formative moments of their friendship and get to know some of the characters a little better.
It’s a solid approach, and even if there are a lot of familiar fantasy tropes at play here, the interactions between the group make them an easy bunch of misfits to become invested in. Young Helene becomes the central focus here as we see her turning her back on her responsibilities to seek adventure, before running slap-bang into trouble before she manages to get too far.
The way this wonderfully eclectic band of characters are brought together through a shared perilous encounter feels very much like an actual game of D&D, with each new face getting a chance to show their own skills and contribute to the makeshift team’s survival. It’s a great approach to an ensemble story, and while Helene is the only one to get anything much in the way of a backstory, there are definitely more thana few characters here I already want to know more about.
Given that it’s the main reason I picked this book up in the first place, I’m happy to report that Fowler’s artwork definitely doesn’t disappoint here. Expressive, frantic and packed with detail, this is a slightly softer fantasy world with an every-so-slightly cartoony style that really works well to establish the overall tone of the series. Fowler’s love of the fantasy genre is well documented, and the way she and colourist Jay Fotos attack the opening sequence featuring the aforementioned invasion (which you can feast your eyes on at the bottom of this page) should tell you really need to know.
A lively opening issue then, and with the final page throwing an intriguing wrinkle into the group dynamic, I’ll definitely be coming back next month to see just what brought our cast of characters to this point. It’s perhaps still a little too soon to tell exactly how this story is going to play out, but as introductions go this is definitely a strong one, and is well worth checking out if you love fantasy as much as this creative team clearly does.