Review – Saturday Morning Adventures: Dungeons & Dragons #1 (IDW Publishing)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: David M. Booher, Sam Maggs
Artwork: George Kambadais
Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 29th March 2023
“Hey, look! A Dungeons and Dragons ride!”
Fans of the classic ’80s cartoon series rejoice, because for the next instalment in their “Saturday Morning Adventures” series, IDW Publishing are shifting focus to the world of Dungeons and Dragons.
For those unfamiliar with the source material, the cartoon – which aired between 1983 and 1985 – focused on a group of six young friends who found themselves transported to the world of D&D by a magical rollercoaster. As you do. Upon their arrival, each of them was gifted a magical item by the mysterious Dungeon Master and they essentially spent the rest of the 27 episode run trying to find a way home while battling against Venger, the force of evil, and his various minions. It was a ton of fun, and helped to introduce the world of Dungeons & Dragons to a lot of wide-eyed youngsters, myself included, in an entertaining and accessible way.
After a brief in media res (re)introduction, this first issue sees our familiar group of youngsters enjoying a little downtime between bouts of action and trying to decide on their next move. It appears that the vast majority of the team, with the exception of the typically headstrong Hank, are getting a little tired of the constant failed attempts to escape the Forgotten Realms, and are starting to warm to the idea of calling it a day and actually trying to settle down and start new lives here. After a little back and forth where the team voice their arguments for and against this suggestion, the debate is temporarily put on hold when a group of shadowy demons attack. No rest for the heroes, I guess!
It feels like there’s a lot of affection for the source material from co-writers David M. Booher and Sam Maggs, and the familiar dynamic between our young heroes is well recreated here. Story-wise there’s nothing too revolutionary at play here, which is definitely a wise decision in my book. Nobody wants a postmodernist deconstruction of the tropes inherent in the genre, we just want some good honest fantasy fun, and that’s exactly what we get.
I’ve been a big fan of George Kambadais’ artwork for quite some time now, and he does a great job here, ensuring every character is instantly recognisable while also adding his own distinctive edge and flair to the proceedings. There’s a real energy to the action sequences, and the colours, also provided by Kambadais, really pop despite being slightly more muted than the cartoon. I’m also a fan of the speckling effect the artist uses throughout, adding a little grit to the aesthetic while still staying more-or-less true to its cel-shaded roots.
I’ll be honest, the final page reveal didn’t really land for me personally, mainly due to my complete and utter lack of Forgotten Realms knowledge, but it certainly appears to offer up some interesting questions and has the potential to open up the world of the cartoon even wider. Your individual mileage will no doubt vary.
I’ve been a big fan of IDW’s Saturday Morning Adventures releases so far, and this latest offering certainly pays homage to the classic kids cartoon while adding some fun new wrinkles to these much-loved characters. Highly recommended.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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I’ve been waiting for this book to drop ever since it was first announced nearly 6 months ago! Correction: I been waiting for this ever since I was a little kid OBSESSED with the original cartoon! So thats a 40-yr wait for me! :) :) :)