Friday, October 24, 2014

Review - Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate #1

"Stand down, dirty minions of evil--or face my hamster's wrath!"

Dungeons and Dragons is a storied franchise that really needs no introduction. The universe has been around seemingly forever, with lots of people delving into it for great stories. And with good reason, as there's a lot of good stuff there to be mined. IDW is tapping into one of the more familiar corners of the universe in Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate #1. The issue is written by Jim Zub and illustrated by Max Dunbar.

As far as evenings go, Delina's isn't exactly the best. It gets slightly worse for some guards acting on behalf of the Order of the Patriars and the Council of Four. Enter Minsc, the legendary Ranger, who comes prepared to jump right into the thick of things with his trusty hamster Boo by his side. There's some slight identity mix-ups at play, with Delina now on the run for a murder she didn't commit.

At this point, Zub really needs no introduction. With his extensive work on Skullkickers and more recent work such as Wayward, he's proven he knows a thing or two about crafting intricate worlds that feel alive. Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate #1 is certainly no exception, as Delina is presented to the reader in the midst of a harrowing battle, endangering her and all those around her. The introduction of Minsc works within the context of the story, but readers who are unfamiliar with the Dungeons and Dragons universe will likely be more puzzled by his eccentricities as opposed to recognizing them. That's not a fault of Zub's; rather, it's more a shortcoming of the story itself and requiring the reader be familiar with the universe beforehand.

Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate #1 could easily have been illustrated with a lot of darkness, but Dunbar doesn't allow the book to follow that path. Both Delina and Minsc are more endearing than anything, a playfulness that Dunbar implements very well. He does a great job showcasing the night setting of the town, accompanied by fog effects that further capture the atmosphere of the book. If there's one minor gripe though, it's that some of the panels feel extremely empty, with only the main character of the panel getting attention. It's believable that most of the city is asleep, but some panels really just feature buildings on both sides and a void in between, which doesn't necessarily match Zub's acquaintance with the richer Dungeons and Dragons at large.

Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate #1 is a lot of fun. It's very much steeped in the Dungeons and Dragons universe, which is fine for the most part because it's most likely that avid fans of that universe will be more likely to check the book out. Zub's script is an appropriate blend of action and light humor, keeping things moving well and not really getting bogged down by heavy politics. Dunbar's illustrations are airy and somewhat cheerful in some respects, giving the book a great feel. Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate #1 is a good first issue that presents the reader with the players, setting and gives them some direction.

Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate #1 is in stores now with interiors below.


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