Aug 8, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 9) - The Arena of Istar

Blood Tide

The Arena of Istar part 1This issue starts sometime after the end of the War of the Lance (as seen in issue 8). Riva Silvercrown (last seen in issue 4), now a knight of Solomnia, is riding a dragon and almost gets into an airborne fight with a dragonarmy officer. Both are quickly stopped when Highlord Kitiara arrives on the scene.

It turns out Riva and Kit are part of separate delegations, each seeking to form an alliance with the minotaur nation.

Later, minotaur delegates are talking with Tanis, Riva, and a mysterious black-robed person. Kit interrupts and begins to present reasons to ally with her dragonarmy. The war-minded minotaurs seem to agree more with her reasoning than that of Tanis. In an effort to turn the delegates toward their thinking, the robed figures, revealed to be an elven cleric of Paladine, offers the head minotaur a special offer; the chance to journey to the location where his brother died to pay a proper last respect. Since this is a big deal in minotaur society, the delegate accepts the chance.

The following day, the minotaur is taken to a spot in the ocean, where the brother died; a place Tanis knows well since he too was on that fateful ship, but survived with the aid of sea elves that took him and his friends to the sunken city of Istar.

As the minotaur sheds his blood in tribute, a storm quickly approaches and the area is engulfed in a whirlpool that threats to destroy the ship.

Commentary

As the beginning of a new arc, I really liked this issue. Once again, there was a guest artist (Dave Simons, this time) and the quality of the art was better than past Ron Randall issues. I liked seeing Riva back in the book (I didn't think there were going to be any recurring characters), as well as Tanis and Kit. I also liked seeing a story involving the minotaurs, one of my favorite races in Dragonlance.

On the other hand, I was disappointed that the timeline jumped over the entire War of the Lance after 8 issues. I had hoped to see more stories during the war with original characters involved in other areas not touched on by the books. Also, the elven cleric was totally out of character. There has never been a cleric of Paladine dressed in black robes (not to mention that the elves refer to Paladine by a different name). Maybe this was supposed to be a "surprise" when the figure was revealed NOT to be Raistlin, but I found it stupid and unrealistic. Also, the notion of that the whirlpool around the Blood Sea would "spring up" at a random moment is completely inaccurate. Any reading of either the Chronicles trilogy or The Atlas of Dragonlance would have set the author straight on this detail. Sadly, this glaring inconsistencies took what could have been a really good issue and made it only ok... hopefully next issue will be better.