Comic review: Dungeons & Dragons (IDW)

So, to take my mind off the fact that Diablo 3 is out and my computer is old as dirt and I could not get a new one yet, I will write the first of a series of comic reviews. This installment is about a comic that has been around for a while, but it's amazing and I don't think it has the attention it deserves. I'm talking about IDW Publishing's ongoing Dungeons & Dragons series. The series itself consists on different sub-series, so to speak: two ongoing series and some limited series (one of them by R.A. Salvatore - guess who's in it?). The one I'll talk about is the first of the ongoing series.

D&D tells the adventures of a ragtag, unlikely group of wisecracks from different races that can't spend half an hour together without making cruel fun of each other, all while keeping their secrets and trying to make a living as mercenaries. Sounds familiar? This band is led by Human Fighter Adric Fell, a veteran from the last war, now out of a job and trying to run a small mercenary company. He is joined by Elf Ranger Varis, an odd elf, who has a love for "pubs and song and buildings and cats" incompatible with his people and seems to be keeping quite a few things to himself, and by Khal Khalundurrin, Dwarf Paladin of Moradin and poet, out to prove himself worthy of his god and of his loved one's kin, of an upper social status than his. Together with Halfling Rogue Bree Three-Hands, who is everything a rogue should be in all aspects, good and bad, they welcome a new member to their team: a Tiefling Warlock named Tisha Swornheart, a powerful and secretive woman who is in a quest to find her parent's muerderer. Issue #0 tells of this last meeting near Fallcrest (where else?) and how the team passes to be called from Fell's Four to Fell's Five. Issue #1 begins to tell the first storyarc, Shadowplague, that spans for 5 issues.

At first sight it might seem quite stereotypical, but it is far from just a bunch of cookie cutter characters in a generic medieval fantasy environment. If you have ever played D&D you'll recognize some situations: your DM tells you you've been knocked unconscious and you wake up and when you ask what you see they tell you you are hanging upside down and all you can do is yell "Oh, come on!". Well, this is Adric's reaction in one of the issues. These characters are not part of a game, but you will find yourself thinking "This happened to me once!" a lot of times. The creators really took it to great lenghts to make you feel what you are reading really is Dungeons & Dragons, not just regular fantasy.

Writer John Rogers brings us charismatic characters, both the titular characters and the support cast, and the story jumps from adventure to adventure in the same fashion a D&D game does. But I think it is the dialogs that make this comic so enjoyable. The adventurers take every opportunity to poke fun into each other, even in the most unlikely moments. The characters speak in a very modern way, with modern idioms and expressions, which might put you off a bit at first, specially if you have a classic fantasy background. But if you keep in mind that what you're reading is "common", not English and the characters address each other in a rather rough, informal manner, then you'll end up getting used to it. Adric's first person narration is also witty and fun to read.

I love that elf

The main artist (there are a lot of guest artists and guest cover artists) is Italian Andrea Di Vito, who gives the characters unique characteristics and detail. The colours are amazing too and each issue comes in several different covers, many of them resembling a D&D manual.

A series I really enjoy and recommend.

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