The fourth Magekiller is out, continuing the story of the stoic warrior Marius and his handler/friend Tessa as they try and survive in the demon-filled world of Dragon Age. They’ve gone from mercenaries paid to hunt mages to blackmailed assassins and now they’re trying to turn the tide in a war against demons who have come through a rift and overrun the land. This issue packs a ton of new characters and a change of scenery into one story, as well as a lot of action. Is it good?
Dragon Age: Magekiller #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
In the last issue Marius and Tessa were basically holding on by their fingernails, worn out and losing a never ending battle, fighting whatever was in their way and trying to save who they could with no real plan of action. It ended with a meeting with one of the Inquisitor’s agents who had come to recruit the two. This book starts with a bit of a time jump as we find both of them already a part of the Inquisitor’s fight and on a mission in a remote desert called the Hissing Wastes. An enemy camp needs to be taken out and prisoners freed, which leads to Tessa calling for reinforcements. A motley crew of the Inquisitor’s soldiers, named the “Bull’s Chargers” are sent, each fulfilling a fantasy archetype such as healer, mage, archer and dwarf who wants to blow something up immediately.
Except for the slow first few pages of the book, which show a correspondence between Tessa and her contact in the Inquisitor’s camp named Charter, the book moves quite well. The addition of new characters to bounce dialogue off of makes the conversations more interesting, especially since Marius tends to brood more than talk. Also, introducing new characters that don’t know the main characters is always a good way to explore background, since they are just as ignorant of the protagonist’s motivations as we are. For example, Dorian, one of the new additions is not only a mage, but of the same race as those who had previously made Marius a slave. His questioning of what Marius thinks of him gives some great insight into the character we wouldn’t have seen had the storyline continued with just Tessa and Marius.
The artwork is great as usual, with battles and lighting (such as campfires) being especially colorful. The design of the new characters are pretty basic archetypes (Refined, mustached mage. Small muscular dwarf. Pointed-eared archer elf) but that has more to do with the pre-established Dragon Age universe than lack of ingenuity. Whether writer Greg Rucka fleshes them out and we begin to care about the characters in coming months will be more important than their look.
Is It Good?
Yep. If you picked up the series because you like fantasy, then an issue that is basically an origin story of a group of specialized warriors coming together for an adventure is as old as The Hobbit. It’s exciting because it opens up a lot of possibilities for the narrative. Of course we don’t know if this was a one shot and we’ll go back to just Marius and Tessa in the future, but for this issue it made the story much stronger and enjoyable. We also got an answer to whether this series would be its own thing or ape the Inquisition video game. It seems Rucka and company are happy to throw in some references for gamers without making it mandatory to have played it. All in all a good effort.