I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons exactly once in my life. I enjoyed it, but it seemed like a lot of work, which makes the comic book format of the game that much more enjoyable. At least for me! I check out IDW’s latest series and ask the question, is it good?
Dungeons & Dragons #1 (IDW Publishing)
I have no idea what the beginning of this official summary even means:
MINSC AND BOO ARE BACK! And things have never looked more dire, as mysterious forces draw the legendary ranger and his crew of adventurers to RAVENLOFT, the Realm of Terror? where they find themselves face to face with undead horrors in the land of eternal night!
Why does this book matter?
One of the biggest draws for me to this story was knowing Nelson Daniel was doing the art. The guy simply killed it on Judge Dredd with a great style that’s unique, but also great at action and throwing in a bit of gore. His style is slightly cartoony but still gritty enough to take seriously. It’s perfect for a title like this! Seriously, the art alone makes this worth taking a peek at.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Jim Zub has managed to make this incredibly accessible for new readers, but I suspect fans of Dungeons & Dragons and even Baldur’s Gate will love it for other reasons too. That’s because Zub has made these characters fun with interesting dynamics between them. The characters are on a mission as D&D characters are wont to do, and they have fun personalities that work together. Take for instance Minsc who’s a bit dumb and outspoken, and keeps opening his mouth at inopportune times only to be told to shush by his teammates. They care about him, but damn is he annoying. It’s only one of the many fun character dynamics at play.
I love how Boo is so tiny but still visible in this shot.
The overall story is fun too. The characters take a job protecting a church that prays to the god of the dead. Within this church are priceless artifacts as fantasy stories will tend to have and baddies will want. The story opens right in the middle of a fight, quickly flashes back to tell us how we got there, and then proceeds accordingly. Zub has filled the story with werewolves, shady characters, and most importantly magic. The heroes of this tale throw it fast and often and it’s fun to see their spells being called out and the magic flying.
There’s a great balance and pace to this story and I don’t think people will get bored reading it. There are twists, turns, and characters that are intriguing outside the already good heroic troupe. The story culminates in a cliffhanger that raises the stakes and will make you want to come back for more.
The art does not disappoint. Daniel doesn’t draw a bad or awkward panel in this book. The magic looks fantastic, the character dynamics work in large part due to Daniel’s great facial expressions, and damn do the werewolves look great. In one panel we see the werewolf half changed and it’s disturbingly beautiful. It looks like how a werewolf might change and I don’t think we’ve seen one like this in movies before. The hamster character Boo is also fantastic with an innocent cuteness that adds a bit of humor and levity to even the most dramatic moments.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Aside from making me want to read the previous story very badly, this is damn near perfect!
Is It Good?
A good sense of humor, fantastic action, and cool fantasy elements throughout? This is damn good fantasy that should not be missed.