Sep 19, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 12) - The Arena of Istar

Blood Brothers

The Arena of Istar part 4This issue starts off with Tanis and Bas-Ohn Horak getting ready to fight Maquesta and Bas-Ohn Koraf in the arena. As we know from issue 11, Maquesta and Koraf are the current champions of the games, and the medallions they wear are actually ancient magic items that the cleric Loralon is seeking.

During the fight, Tanis and Maquesta face off, while the two minotaur brothers fight each other, while the sea turtles watch the games from a glass dome and the ghosts of the citizens of ancient Istar watch from the stands they filled centuries ago. Elsewhere, Loralon and the sea elf begin working on their part of the plan, by opening a crack in the wall that starts to floor the city.

During the fight we learn that Maquesta blames Tanis for her ending up in Istar, and doesn't offer any mercy to her former friend. As the battle continues, Tanis disables and kills her. Meanwhile, the two minotaurs fight with Horak choking Koraf with the chain from the champion medallion he wears.

Just then, Loralon appears and casts a spell causing several more sea elves to appear in the arena. As cracks appear in the area dome, Loralon casts a mass water breathing spell. Loralon also uses the medallions to keep the dragon turtles at bay while they swim to the surface.

On the surface, Loralon uses the medallions to create a flying water-elemental (shaped like a giant eagle) to take Tanis, Horak, and himself back to the minotaur island.

Cut to Kitiara and her dragon army. She reveals that the minotaurs have refused an alliance with her, so she plans to attack their city. Powerful air, fire, and water elementals repel the dragon army.

Back on land we see Horak wearing the two medallions. He reveals that the minotaurs have declined the offers from the dragonarmy as well as that of the knights of Solomnia. With the medallions in the possession of the minotaurs, they will use them only for defence and be able to remain neutral. Tanis and Horak shake.

The last page shows two maps, the continent of Ansalon before and after the cataclysm.


Hands down, this has to be the worst issue of the comic so far. There were a few bits of art that were interesting (especially the ghost citizens of Istar), but the plot was completely missing.

The sea elf who is helping Loralon only seems to be there to start a crack in the wall. It seems like Loralon should have been able to do that without the aid of the elf and her little dagger. But at least she gets to speak (somewhat) and sort of do something, the sea elves summoned later in the issue, seem to stand around ready to fight no one in particular. I can't see what purpose they served in Loralon's "plan". Nor do I see what flooding the jail cell did, since it was a crack in the area dome that lead to everyone's escape.

Another thing that really bothers me with this issue is the idea that Tanis would disable Maquesta and then kill her as she lies prone and defenseless on the ground. There was no reason that Maquesta or Koraf had to die... they both wanted to leave Istar like everyone else, and Loralon could have done that without the death of the two champions.

Also, Loralon wanted to retrieve the items, but at the end of the issue, they end up with the minotaurs with no explanation. And lastly, we get a small image of Riva on the last page (no dialog). With an arc that started out seemingly focused on her, she had no part in the story, nor did Kitiara really, for that matter.

Overall the arc started out with potential, but got worse and worse as the issues continued, until this last one. Back when these issues first came out, I was a dragonlance collector. If I was buying these today, I don't think I would have continued past this arc.

Next Time: I'm going to take a break from the old DC comics and read and review the first of two issue of the new Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons comic, featuring an adaptation of the Weis and Hickman short story, The Legacy.