Jul 17, 2009

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 21) - A Special Issue

A Special IssueThis issue contains two stories, one featuring Myrella and the other with Riva Silvercrown. Sadly, the two tales are separate, so Riva and Myrella never actually meet.

The Sorceress' Apprentice

This short tale is any early adventure of Myrella before her first appearance in issue 5. The would-be mage is in a forest with another mage, Jenque, planning to assault the nearby castle of Borgys, who is also a mage. It seems that Borgys is in possession of the staff of Ethys, and plans to use the magic item to raise an army of undead and conquer the local province. Jenque can't enter the castle as the old mage has cast a protection spell around his stronghold.

Jenque asks Myrella to sneak in and destroy the amulet Borgys wears. The amulet is a component of the protection spell that keeps her at bay. Myrella is at first nervous, but knows she needs to prove herself if she wants Jenque to accept her as an apprentice.

With only a few basic spells, Myrella enters the castle. Coming across a pair of guards, her sleep spell renders them unconscious quickly. Delighted at the magic running through her, she casts another spell to blast through the door to Borgys' chamber. In the confusion, Myrella races in and seizes the amulet before the old man can put up a defense. Borgys cries out as Myrella crushes the device, ending the protection spell around the castle.

As the smoke and dust clear, Myrella notices a dead woman on a stone altar. The corpse wears a wedding ring; one that matches the ring Borgys wears on his own hand.

Just then, Jenque grabs the staff and with her own magical abilities, kills Borgys. In horror over her part in this, Myrella runs out of the castle. Moments later Jenque appears. As Myrella cowers in fear, anticipating her own impending death, Jenque begins to explain.

Borgys' control of the staff had already driven him insane and his plan to bring the dead woman back to life would create an unnatural bridge between the realms of death and live; Borgys could be allowed to complete his plan. As Jenque walks away into the night, she reveals that Borgys was her father.

To Sail on Sunbeams

This story focuses on an early adventure of Riva Silvercrown. It starts off with a bronze dragon bringing food back to a nest of wyrmlings. Meanwhile Riva is climbing up the huge mountain toward the nest in response to a dare from her friend Brak to grab a piece of one of the dragon eggs.

As she loses her grip and starts falling, she is grabbed by the adult bronze dragon, who promptly plops the young girl in the middle of the nest. The bedding of the nest gives way and Riva falls into a dark cavern surrounded by the dragon's treasure. When the huge dragon takes flight, a few of the wyrmlings also fall into the cavern.

In the cavern, a group of gnomes arrive from a connecting tunnel. They see the wyrmlings as potential hostages and a way to insure that the adult dragon won't stop them as the gnomes loot all the treasures here.

When the parent dragon returns, the leader of the gnomes grabs a wyrmling and holds it at knife point. He demands that the dragon hand over a Dragon Orb, an item that the bronze doesn't have. Riva claims to have found it in one of the treasure piles, but this is a ruse to distract the gnomes for a moment while she attacks and ultimately chases them away. Her bravery and selflessness earns her the gratitude of the parent dragon.

Several days later, Riva watches in delight and amazement from a nearby ledge as the wyrmlings are learning to fly. The stone gives way under her, and she starts to fall. Moments later one of the wyrmlings rescues her.

After the bronze dragons take Riva home, she is given a special amulet. It will identify her to other bronze dragons as someone worthy of being a dragon's familiar. Also it will also make her forget this experience.

While the dragons fly away, Riva clutches the amulet in her hand, proclaiming this to be a greater treasure than any piece of dragon egg.

Commentary

The art for The Sorceress' Apprentice was really well done for the most part. Myrella looked like a teenage girl, Borgys had the look of a crazy old man, fitting based on Jenque's story. Jenque herself had a very sexualized look, more like a temptress than a mage. Also the castle had a great attention to detail and the scene of the exploding the chamber door, followed by the smoke filled room helped capture the swiftness of that action.

A few of the things I didn't like, art wise, where that neither of the mages wore any kind of colored robe. Most mages wear colors in line with the order of magic they belong to. Borgys should have had a black robe, while Jenque is probably a red robe. Based on the twisty ending, I understand hiding her magical allegiance as she appears evil for a while till she explains her side of the story.

As for the plot, I liked the pacing and overall theme. In only ten pages, this tale turns out to be more compelling than some of the previous arcs that used up eight times as many pages.

With regard to the Riva story, as a generic fantasy tale, it's ok. As a dragonlance tale, it's downright awful. Clearly this author (each story was written by a different person) has little to no familiarity with the dragonlance setting, and no understanding of what the world was like before the War of the Lance, when this story had to have taken place (as Riva is grown up in issue 1, which takes place at the beginning of the war).

For instance, before the War of the Lance, dragons, especially bronze dragons, were not on the continent, and had been unseen for so long that most people thought they were a myth. Certainly Riva and Brak shouldn't have known were one was nesting.

Additionally, the gnomes do not behave like dragonlance gnomes, being more obsessed with money and magic, than technology. Likewise, the gnomes names and speech patterns don't match krynnish custom. Lastly, one gnome even refers to his "Uncle Trapspringer", a mythic kender, NOT gnome.

It's a shame the story is so flawed, because the artwork is fantastic. Riva is drawn to look like a young teenager, with an outfit close to what she wears in the first story arc. The art has great scene detail, from the various scattered items in the treasure cavern, to all the details on the mountains in the range. Likewise her facial expressions are detailed and very expressive.

Here's to hoping that next issue isn't so uneven as this "special issue" turned out to be.