Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review - Munchkin #1

"Warning! You may also be betrayed."

Munchkin is actually a very enjoyable card game. It relies on the player to be savvy and willing to risk friendships over gaining a simple level...or winning the game. That sort of game lends itself to a narrative, one which BOOM! Studios is crafting in Munchkin #1. The issue is broken into four stories. "What is a Munchkin" and "Humans Got No Class" are written by Tom Siddell, illustrated by Mike Holmes, colored by Fred Stresing and lettered by Jim Campbell. "Ready for Anything" is written by Jim Zub, illustrated by Rian Singh and lettered by Campbell. "Table of Contents" is written and illustrated by John Kovalic.

Kick open the door. Kill the monster. Steal the treasure. Screw over everybody you come in contact with. Welcome to the world of Munchkin, a gathering of stories based on the popular game series. It’s a laugh a minute, pal. Plus, every first printing of every issue will ship with an exclusive card for the game. Munchkin #1 features four stories set in and around the world of the game, featuring Spyke, Flower, and all the other characters, monsters and settings players have come to love.

If you've played Munchkin before, then Munchkin #1 does an exceptional job in summarizing the experience. Each story looks at the core concept of the game and spins it in a way that feels like an original story. Siddell's work on "What is a Munchkin" and "Humans Got No Class" is straightforward and presents the concept of Munchkin to the reader, as well as the idea behind belonging to a class while playing the game. Zub's tale is a bit more adventurous, recounting the decision-making that goes into surviving, which just so happens to include sacrificing others for your safety. The stories do add a narrative to the game itself, but there's really not much in the way of establishing new characters or plotlines.

The art in Munchkin #1 is going to look very familiar to--again--those who have played the game. Holmes relies on a blend of fully-realized illustrations and characters who look like sketches, using the two styles to distinguish between in-game and real world. Singh's illustrations in "Ready for Anything" feel decidedly darker, which could owe to the subject matter of that story. Spyke gets top-billing in the story and looks readily familiar as the mascot of the game, even boasting a Rat on a Stick. The colors throughout are rich and varied, as Stresing manages to make the dungeons feel a lot more alive than they probably should.

Munchkin #1 is an interesting book as it's attempting to add a narrative to a game whose gameplay essentially dictates the narrative. The first issue tackled a few of the core concepts behind the game and where the series goes from here is anyone's guess. Siddell and Zub do admirable jobs with their contributions, livening up the otherwise "boring" rules of the game itself. Homes and Singh do a great job bringing the characters and monsters in Munchkin to life, effectively creating a world around them that's otherwise only created through the cards themselves. Munchkin #1 is a humorous book that capitalizes on what makes Munchkin so enjoyable to begin with, but a lot of that humor will likely go over the head (to an extent) of readers who've yet to play the core game the comic is based on.

Munchkin #1 is in stores now with interiors below.


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