Review - The Witcher #1

"...but by the time the dice stopped rolling, I'd won a pig, a maiden's kiss, a pair of breeches, and the ire of a bare-legged man. That's when I knew I had to leave town."

In stories of legend, there's often a main character who's something of a beast when it comes to combat, adventuring and all-around questing. One such character in video games is The Witcher, a truly powerful individual capable of bending those to his will and crushing enemies effortlessly. With the next incarnation of the game without a definite release date, Dark Horse is looking to fill that void with The Witcher #1. The issue is written by Paul Tobin, illustrated by Joe Querio, colored by Carlos Badilla and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

Traveling near the edge of the Black Forest, monster hunter Geralt meets a widowed fisherman named Jakob whose dead and murderous wife Marta resides in an eerie mansion known as the House of Glass—which seems to have endless rooms, nothing to fill them with, and horror around every corner. Their journey takes them through eerie forests, beside lakes full with more than fish and graveyard hags speaking in tongues. It's all in a days work for a Witcher and a Hunter, both of whom seem to want to do more than survive.

Tobin's script plays out very much like an RPG. Geralt and Jakob are believable in their abilities to survive and make a treacherous journey if the situation calls for it and the first issue is definitely setting them up to get in a spot of bother rather quickly. The dialogue is pretty well done and effectively gets the reader caught up on both characters' backstories, thanks to them retelling their tales and the personal choices. The way they react to certain situations evidences what kind of people they really are and helps get the reader involved in them and their impending plights. There's solid pacing and drama that unfolds in the issue as well, ensuring the reader stays focused and into what's happening.

The illustrations by Querio are well done and has a hint of horror in them, which is somewhat appropriate considering the subject matter of the issue. Characters are illustrated with pretty unique looks, especially between Geralt and Jakob side-by-side. There are some shots where the characters appear somewhat distant and--as a result--there's little attention to detail in the facial expressions. The environments are sufficiently indicative of the world the characters inhabit as well, offering somewhat ominous looks at dangerous lakes, dark forests and very foreboding houses. There's a good mix of panel layouts as well, giving the reader some fresh looks by page and staying visually stimulating.

The Witcher #1 is a great first issue that offers the reader a good mix of action and suspense. It feels like a very taut story that has a pretty big cliffhanger at the end of the first issue and the main characters are very capable of holding their own against whatever may come their way. The art is a good match for the story, imbuing the tale with a certain mystical sensibility that makes the reader feel as if they're part of a world of magic and vampires. Fans of the video game property will definitely want to check out The Witcher #1, but those who are also keen on fantasy sagas may also find some good stuff in the issue.