It’s AiPT!’s resident Witcher fanatic, here to review the latest Dark Horse release of a tale in the increasingly expansive world of everyone’s favorite monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia. Does this latest series hold itself up to the same standards as the three before?
It feels like a resounding yes so far, with a very fun wrinkle. Flesh and Flame starts off very Witcher-y, with a wounded Geralt, hungry nekkers, and a reminder to the reader of just how dangerous a Rivian mutant can look.
With an ominous start like this, and a reminder of just how deadly this mutant is, we’re probably going to get some bloodshed and destruction in this issue, right? Gutted manticores, high adventures and all that rot?
Nope! Not at all. We’re going to get humor and lusty Dandelion, and it sets the tone for the series that makes me feel it’s going to be excellent.
If you read any of the novels, the character of Dandelion stands out as a bumbling fool who gets Geralt into trouble time and time again. When the troubadour shows up in this issue, it’s the same experience, as his appearance complicates multiple matters for Geralt, including a magic trunk that drops this pair of friends in a very delicate situation.
I found myself comparing this to some of the pause issues that used to occur between big expansive story arcs in the longest running comics. If you remember the various X-Men danger room or basketball issues, where little happened outside of character building, you’ll understand the tone of this book. Without the massive stakes the game and later novels lay onto the shoulders of this one mercenary, there’s an opportunity for Geralt to get some food, drink some ale, and sign up for what seems to be a simple mission, to once again have Dandelion ruin everything.
Art wise, this might be one of the better depictions we’ve seen of Geralt over the past several comic releases, Mike Mignola’s amazing cover art notwithstanding. It’s very much drawn from the game imagery, right down to the starting armor, but it’s a solid art style. Marianna does a good job of capturing the essence of the characters, and the slowly mounting humor of the unraveling situation starts to populate everyone’s faces quite nicely. As you can see above, her “badass witcher” face is no slouch either – as that’s easily the scariest I’ve ever seen Geralt look.
I’ll also throw a shoutout to colorist Lauren Affe on this book, because the use of shadow and Geralt’s eyes seems to add a very ominous tone to an otherwise funny book. So kudos to Lauren.
The plot is quite funny, and really hearkens back to those more lighthearted shorts of Sapowski’s books, where Geralt is always trying to get a bite to eat or a wench to bed, and Dandelion’s bumbling ends up putting them in mortal danger. It’s nice to get that other side of the characters, the side without the ominous pressure of the Wild Hunt or some other world-ending aspect hanging over them, and Motyka balances the inherent nature of a born killer with someone who just needs a drink now and again. Sometimes a Witcher is just a guy looking for a place to sleep, instead of trading barbs with an Emperor, and this series looks like it’s going to bring us back to those roots.
Overall, this is a great start to a new limited series from Dark Horse, and one I’m looking forward to reading. Watching the wacky misadventures of Geralt and Dandelion unfold, as Geralt has to pull his friends head out from under any number of axes sounds like a refreshing and light read, without too much world ending drama. Bring on issue #2.