Friday, July 26, 2013

Review - The Reason for Dragons

"Why would you take such great risks to prove yourself to those who think so little of you?"

If you ever encounter a dragon, it's good to be a knight. The stalwarts of history and fiction have made dragon slaying one of the top lines on their resumes and they've gotten quite good at it. A knight encountering a dragon makes sense in stories of lore; not so much in the present. Still though, such a scenario makes for good reading in The Reason for Dragons from Archaia.

The graphic novel is written by Chris Northrop, illustrated by Jeff Stokely and colored by Northrop and Andrew Elder.

Go head Mr. Wendell. Wendell is a young man struggling with relating to his new stepfather Ted. Ted means well, but he's got a personality that's a little rough around the edges, showing itself primarily in the care of his bike Lilly. Ted tries to teach Wendell to "be a man," but it doesn't quite work out as either would hope, prompting Wendell to run off. After a harrowing encounter, Wendell finds himself smackdab in the middle of history when he meets a knight desperate to defend his king and defeat the dragon.

Northrop's story is definitely of the coming of age variety and it's very well told. Wendell is caught in the middle of a maelstrom of emotion, unsure of whether or not he belongs in any place in his life. That's what makes his encounter with the knight so revealing. The knight is an anachronism of sorts and knows firsthand what it feels like to be out of place, giving Wendell someone to commiserate with. Everyone knows what it's like to grow up and be unsure of oneself for whatever reason and Northrop taps into that sentiment perfectly. Pairing Wendell with the Knight gives both motivation to grow and be better people.

Stokely's art exhibits the appropriate level of levity necessary to help depict a comic like The Reason for Dragons. Characters aren't illustrated too realistically, as Stokely relies on slight caricatures in illustrating the main players in the book. The landscapes are very effective at setting the tone for the book as well; fall is coming over the world Wendell lives in that brings with it a sense of renewal. It's rather well illustrated and really gets the reader immersed in the world of angst and potential dragons.

It's made clear by the end what the reason for dragons really is: redemption. Everyone needs some sort of adversary to better themselves against and the allegory of the knight and the dragon proves to be an excellent tale for Wendell to follow in his trials. There's something in the book that everyone can relate to and--since this is an Archaia book--the presentation is top-notch. The Reason for Dragons is definitely a book that should be on your radar that will really hit a note with a lot of readers.

The Reason for Dragons is available comic shops now and everywhere else on August 6. Check out the interiors below.


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