Weirdworld is a significant realm of sorts which has popped up within Marvel Comics in the last few years. Most notably was Mike Del Mundo’s series by the same name, but did you know Doug Moench and John Buscema started it back in 1976? Marvel is celebrating the series as part of their 80th anniversary this year, with a brand new collection out this week.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
An Epic quest! There’s nowhere weirder than Weirdworld — just ask elves Tyndall and Velanna and their dwarf ally Mud-Butt! When a powerful wizard turns the trio’s lives upside down, the troubled troupe is forced to undertake another deadly quest — in search of the magic blade known as the Glorywand! Goblins, dragons and the undead lie in wait as their journey across Weirdworld begins — but who is the Dragonmaster of Klarn? Plus: Relive Weirdworld’s debut and Tyndall’s fateful first meeting with Velanna when the out-worlder elf reluctantly undertakes a deadly mission to track down — and eliminate — the very heart of evil!
Why does this matter?
Four years ago Marvel released the Warriors of the Shadow Realm collection, and today The Dragonmaster of Klarn, which collects the last appearance of the two main characters, Tyndall and Velanna. It’s a high-fantasy series that’s a mix of Dark Crystal world-building and Lord of the Rings‘ knack for naming.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Writer Doug Moench wrote many stories of the Weirdworld characters which you learn in an introduction at the start of this book. Judging by how he only got to write new stories once a year at least, one might think the series wasn’t a huge hit. However, it reads like it was well thought out and built with incredible care. This series is the kind of fantasy read that throws you in the deep end, listing off names of places, monsters, and wizards that have no meaning to the reader, but that’s partly on purpose. It’s obvious this world is magical beyond belief, and it’s fun to get a wacky name of something on every panel. It inspires imagination, and I could easily see this working as a TV show or movie.
The content is all-ages to a point, although there’s some subtle messaging about awakening the maturity in Velanna. She’s never overlysexualized in the main story, but you can see it was subtly attempted. Midway through the main adventure, there is a woman named Lianissa who is in a somewhat revealing robe lounging about, but again it’s pretty harmless. Monsters are quite tepid too, although in the original black and white story, Mike Ploog does draw some ferocious-looking monsters. The art is going to be the biggest draw for most thanks to painterly quality from Buscema and the classic black and white fantasy stylings of Ploog. It’s telling the art is a big draw since there are 15 pages of art in the back. These pages reveal the pencils of one of the most refreshing double page spreads you’ll ever see, covers, and other pinups. The main story here is penciled by Buscema who gets to draw orcs, dragons, and all sorts of fantasy elements. What’s cool is the color art was painted over his pencils by Steve Oliff, which gives the work additional charm.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
This book reads like a history lesson in many respects. It’s dense and seems to be telling a world-building story more than a character-driven one. Tyndall and Velanna tend to be surrogates for the reader, so they react with utter confusion and shock for much of the narrative. They don’t do much of anything besides avoiding imminent death, either. The story is more about incredible gods and magical characters who do whatever they want, which immediately puts our protagonists in danger. None of it matters and even if it did, you wouldn’t have the context to understand why you should care anyway.
Is it good?
This is a perfectly okay high-fantasy series that’s more about the visuals than the story. Pop this one open if you want to feel nostalgic over your old Dungeons & Dragons quests, but steer clear if you’re expecting something genuinely riveting.