Of all the fantasy novels to be adapted into a comic book, Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law is most at home in the visual form. In so many fantasy novels much of the content takes place internally, whereas Abercrombie’s books focus more on the characters actually doing something. On top of that his fantasy world is believable and not too far from a Medieval version of our own. Having read all the books I have a bit of a reservation as to an adaptation, but with Chuck Dixon adapting it it may be in good hands.
Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law: The Blade Itself #1 (Blind Ferret Entertainment)
Adapting anything is a double edged sword. On one hand the adaptor has everything already planned out and can improve or build on the current ideas. Then again, it also requires fine tuning and adequate changes to fit the new format. In so many cases, books adapted into film fail because they can’t move internal narration into a visual medium. Thankfully though, Joe Abercrombie’s work is so visual in nature it lends itself to the comic format.
Shanka with dreadlocks!
Having read all of the books set in Joe Abercrombie’s world it’s hard not to review this and not judge it based on the source material. That said, this is a well paced issue with a good introduction of two of the main characters. Anyone in the dark to this series will find Logen and Glokta very clearly developed with their personalities shining through.
So cool to see these memorable lines visually.
Glokta, a torturer working under the king is a ruthless and intelligent man who’s aware of the political games. Logen is a barbarian type character who has lost his family yet will fight to the end. Glokta gets more time in this issue, but Logen serves as bookends and adequately sets up the journey our hero is going on.
Do as he says!
The strength of this issue, and ultimately the entire series for that matter, is going to lay with the characters. Actions speak louder than words, and by all means there will be many of them in this series, but the fact that adaptor Chuck Dixon has so perfectly captured the characters is a mighty good sign. A little Google search of Dixon reveals the man has been involved in adapting The Wheel of Time comic as well. I suppose the man holds a monopoly on fantasy adaptations then, but if they’re all written this good I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Not all the credit goes to Dixon though, as Andie Tong, who’s also contributed to The Wheel of Time comics, does a marvelous job establishing mood and atmosphere. The characters, while slightly cartoony, still maintain an edge, which is important for a gritty work such as this. Most of the background is empty, but you wouldn’t notice that unless you’re looking for it. The colors by Peter Pantazis do a lot to establish a gritty world for the characters.
Far cooler than my imagination gave them credit for.
- The art does the material justice
- Strong pacing and character development
- Given the brevity 24 pages forces, some might feel lost in this giant world as yet to be revealed
I’m a huge proponent of well written characters. Without them your story isn’t going to be worth much beyond nice art and good composition. The fact that the characters pop in only 22 pages means this little series should be, at the very least, read by anyone who adores fantasy. If you discover the characters from Joe Abercrombie’s world through this comic you’ll be bound to read it as all. The amazing thing is, I can see someone reading both and enjoying them all the same.
Is It Good?
Yes. In a genre that’s lacking in the comic book world this property proves fantasy could thrive in the comic book format.