Jun 4, 2008

Dragonlance - DC Comics - Fantastic 1st Issue

After my recent post about the history of Dragonlance comics, I've been itching to go back an re-read those issues. So here is the a synopsis and review of the first issue.

Issue#1: Fire & Ice

DC/Dragonlance comic, first issueOn his way to Solace, Sturm Brightblade comes across a female warrior in need of help fighting off a band of hobgoblins. Sturm comes to her aid and then carries her to a nearby monastery. At the door steps of the monastery (of Majere), Sturm passes out. When he awakens, Sturm prepares to leave and resume his journey to Solace, first getting his sword that a monk stored in a nearby shed (their order does not allow weapons on their living premises).

After Sturm leaves, Riva finds out that the monk who had been attending them is Vandar Brightblade, Sturm's uncle who was once a knight, but abandoned the knighthood for the monastery. The action then cuts to Lord Soth, who is obviously in Dargaard Keep with a dragon highlord, revealed to be Kitiara. The two are in the middle of some plan of attack that is intended to keep knowledge of the ancient gods hidden.

Cut to a nearby town. A man and woman are preaching about the old gods until they are taken away by local guards. Their son tries to help, but is "accidentally" tripped up by a befuddled old wizard...

Back at the monastery, Riva shows Vandar something she found on a recent adventure, a medallion with the symbol of Majere on it. Vandar immediately recognizes it as a powerful item. Just then, Kitiara, atop her dragon mount, Skie, along with Lord Soth and his undead warriors, attack.

Riva and Vandar are able to escape into the woods. Once there, Vandar uses one of the powers of the medallion to summon an insect swarm, which is able to drive away the attackers. With the monastery burning to the ground, Vandar rushes back in and retrieves a hidden Dragonlance from the same shed Sturm's sword was in earlier.

After that issue done, the last page (typically where the letters column would be) has some game information on things/people mentioned, including stats for Sturm (as of the beginning of the story), information about the clerical order of Majere, and info on some of the magic items shown in the issue.

Commentary

The first issue was off to a great start. We get a "cameo" from one of the key Heroes of the Lance, which also sets the story around the time of the beginning of the first trilogy. Great art for Sturm (even if there is an error with his chainmail on the very first page), Lord Soth, Kit, and Fizban as well as new characters like Riva and Vandar. The stage is set with a couple of stories, that we suspect will all converge in coming issues.

There are a couple of things I didn't like in this first issue. Foremost, the issue expects readers to already have read the first trilogy. Dargaard Keep is never actually mentioned by name, but is easily inferred from the scene. Also, the hobgoblins look more like uncivilized jungle warriors than monstrous humanoids. It's not explained why Vandar doesn't introduce himself to Sturm, who he clearly identifies to Riva as his nephew. Also the opening battle with Sturm and Riva is a bit graphic. Sturm is shown impaling a hobgoblin on his own spear as well as snapping a hobgoblin's neck with his bare hands.

On the other hand, I really liked the stat sheet information at the end of the issue. I wished they had done more of that throughout the series. Vandar and Riva are both very interesting characters, with back stories that make me want to know more about them. Lastly, I liked that the opening story was taking place during the War (one of my favorite time periods) and I was looking forward to following the progression of the war through these new characters.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this issue did a nice job of "setting the board" for the characters we'll be following in later issues.