IDW’s D&D Comic Book Earns a Spot on the Pull List

I’ve been looking forward to the new D&D comic book series since the preview issue #0 came out a few months back. Issue #1 finally hit comic shops last month, and it’s taken me this long to review it because the first print run sold out before I could buy one. That bodes well for a fun series that I hope lasts many, many issues.

To be totally accurate, the sold-out status doesn’t necessarily connote sales levels akin to those commonly ascribed to the humble hot cake. As my friendly neighborhood comic store retailer pointed out to me, they weren’t sure how many issues to order because it can be very difficult to gauge audience interest in fantasy comics. It turns out they undershot a little bit.

The series’ writer is John Rogers, whom I have raved about in the past as creator of one of my favorite TV shows, Leverage. He brings sharp, witty dialogue and a clear, easy to follow story line, even when it takes unexpected twists and turns. And when I say witty, I mean freaking hilarious. It’s pretty damn rare for a comic book to make me literally laugh out loud, and this one did several times. My favorite exchange:

Khal the Dwarf: These tunnels look natural, but it be cunning disguise. Every seam hand-polished away. Dwarven work.

Varis the Elf: Amazing how everything good is Dwarven work. “This sword be flawless with magnificent detail. Dwarven work. These pastries be fluffy and filled with delicious custard. Dwarven work.”

Khal: First, you’d be lucky to taste a Dwarven pastry. Second…pit trap (as Varis falls into said pit trap).

The story revolves around a mercenary named Adric Fell and his band of hired adventurers in Fallcrest. The local magistrate seems to tolerate their presence (barely), but leaking shadow magic from the Shadowfell starts turning people into temporary mindless zombies. There’s a flaming zombie orphanage and even an undercurrent of romantic subplot. The group will no doubt have to travel into the Shadowfell some time soon to stem the evil tide.

The characters are all archetypical fantasy types — halfling rogue, tiefling sorcerer, elf ranger, etc. I understand that this is intentional and part of Wizards’ plan to introduce some core characters and flesh out the core Nentir Vale setting, but I wish they were a little less archetypical. Still, I’m sure Rogers will handle them well and keep them from being as one-dimensional as you might expect.

The art by Andrea Di Vito is solid. It’s crisp and conveys action very well. Some will complain that it’s “cartoonish,” but I think it fits the tone of the comic perfectly. While I’ve gone on record as not minding a bit of gratuitous cheesecake in RPG books and comics, the busty tiefling seems a bit over the top (so to speak) at times.

Thankfully, overt gaming themes are not expressed within the story. No one’s running around going, “Use your daily powers, we can extended rest at the inn!” But it looks like we’ll be getting 4E character sheets for the main cast eventually. This issue gives us Adric himself, a 7th level fighter.

I can’t wait for issue #2, and I’m even a bit more excited about the Dark Sun series starting up next year.

7 Responses to IDW’s D&D Comic Book Earns a Spot on the Pull List

  1. These are set in the “Default” 4th setting, right? The place that’s name gets mentioned once somewhere in the DMG and is then promptly forgotten? That place could do with some fluffing up so everyone doesn’t think that D&D is Forgotten Realms, or Dragonlance, and I don’t know which is worse.

    Eberron is the bestest, but that’s because I love urbanized fantasy more than the happy sparkle fantasy that Forgotten Realms slips into on occasion. That setting causes so much magical cognitive dissonance. They have magic that warps physics as we know it, but they still haven’t figured ways to use that for things other than mega artifacts and weird useless trinkets for uber heroes to collect? Even Gandalf made fireworks, guys. I don’t understand how they can maintain the Magic Is Mysterious And Rare thing in a setting where every named character is either epic tier or decked out in some sweet gear, and everybody has conversations with deities 2-3 times a week. I don’t know, it just strikes me as odd that it tries to have it’s big magic cake, and eat it too. Have wizards no entrepreneurship in Faerun? The Eberron guys are selling magic toasters.

  2. Well, all the Hx adventures are based in the Nentir Vale, so it gets a little more attention in those. And next year they’ll publish a book or boxed set (I can’t recall which at the moment) devoted entirely to the default setting.

  3. That’d be neat. I love me some world building, but was really surprised to hear that there was a default 4e setting, I just assumed the only official ones were Eberron and such.

  4. Yeah in 3e they revamped Greyhawk to be the default setting, now they have created a generic one with general names that coem up in he books like Bael Turath, lost empire of the tieflings, Arkhosia, lost empire of the Dragonborn, and Nerath, lost empire of humanity. Some dragon articles delve into thos places with discussions on lost cities and the like.

    Billy, I agree about FR. I haven’t tried Eberron but FR used to be my favorite D&D world. Then I got tired of new sourcebooks coming out that rewrote things i did in my campaign. That’s just the way of published campaigns, but I still decided to do my own. Now whenever i come back to FR stuff it does seem to be a bit too magical. ‘Happy sparkle fantasy’ sounds like a good description to me. Even so I have fond memories of Waterdeep and of killing whole parties in that grinder called Undermountain.

  5. I think it’s my inner engineer that can’t stand Faerun and loves Eberron. Eberron feel like it fits together. Everything pieces together into one nice awesome conglomeration that makes sense for the most part. Why is your party made of 8 different races and a robot? They totally could have been neighbors. Why are people tripping over magical stuff? Wizards realized it was more profitable to sell appliances that make life easier, than fight dragons. Most of the conflict in the setting is an urban environment but you could just as easily be digging through old haunted crypts left from Before The War. Heck, you could play whole campaigns in Eberron without going to the big cities. I don’t know, it just seems more coherent of a setting for a game, while Forgotten Realms is best left to Mr. Salvatore to play with.

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