May 22, 2009

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 17) - Winter's Knight Begins

Dragonkill

Winter's Night part 1This issue starts with Riva Silvercrown (about 30+ years older than her last appearance in issue 12) being chased by a number of draconians. She defeats many of them while her dragon mount, Ktarrh, finishes off the rest. Just after the battle her dragon dies from massive wounds.

Near death herself from the draconians wounds, Riva sets off on foot, away from the battlefield...

Elsewhere a young brother and sister (Darial and Shaya) sit outside their parent's farm. Shaya notices something in the distance and thinks maybe the draconians are returning to their farm, but Darial sees that it's a lone figure. As they go to investigate, they find Riva collapsed on the ground. The kids help the knight back to their farm, where Riva finds their murdered parents in the farm house. Darial asks Riva how he can become a knight.

While Riva rests, she begins to tell the story Wistan Dawnbringer, forefather to Gunthar Uth Wistan, the current head of the knighthood...

During the Second Dragon war, a group of knights of Solomnia help a group of refugees relocate from their burned out town to a safer place. Among the refuges is an orphan, Wistan, determined to become a knight so he could avenge his parents death.

Lord Sigmun agrees to take him on as an apprentice, on the condition that he forget his thoughts of revenge, and only wish to do that which is good and right. Wistan makes his pledge.

Days later, as the knights have made camp, they see a black dragon in the sky. Herrol, a young knight, seeking revenge against the dragons that destroyed his village years ago, shoots an arrow at the flying creature, thereby revealing the camp's location.

Almost immediately, Herrol is killed and the camp is attacked by a group of goblins. Wistan shows great bravery during the battle, armed only with a throwing rock. Soon the remaining goblins flee the battle. Just then, a lone, seemingly unarmed woman cries out for help. Wistan has a sense that something is wrong and warns Lord Sigmun right before the female mage unleashes an attack. Sigmun and the mage trade attacks of steel and spell briefly before the mage disappears.

After the battle, Lord Sigmun commends Wistan on his instincts during the fighting. Wistan then truly realizes that he must not seek revenge, or less end up like Herrol.

At this point, sick from draconian poison, Riva collapses.

Commentary

After the way the last story arc ended (better than most of the previous issues), I was looking forward to this issue with excitement... maybe the writers and editors had finally gotten a handle on writing more exciting stories, with better characters, etc. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled with how this first part opened.

Once again the book jumped in time, a lot! While Riva was back in the book, she looked to be in her late 60s, maybe older. There was so much of her life that they just skipped over, some many stories I wanted to hear about before this. A few pages later when I realized that this arc was really about Wistan, and Riva was just a storyteller, I again felt cheated... just tell me Wistan's story, why do I need Riva's framing sequence?

I did like most of Wistan's tale. The part with Wistan being suspicious of the female in the woods was a bit stupid... I think anyone seeing a gorgeous female wearing only a dress in the same forest that was overrun with goblins moments ago should be suspicious. I'm not so surprised that Wistan was cautious, but dumbfounded that the other knights weren't.

Art-wise I think this was a solid issue. The various character faces really help convey their personal emotions, adding to the drama of what they're discussing. Most of the issue is a lot of talking heads and Ron does a good mixing up the art and layout. One thing I didn't like was most of the fight scenes. I didn't find most of the action scenes to be terribly exciting or well paced. Certainly there were a few well done panels, but for the most part the action wasn't exciting enough.

We'll see how the story and art moves along in the next issue...