Jul 31, 2009

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 22) - Landfall

Landfall

Landfall part 1 The issue starts with Riva and Fizban on a boat out in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of a storm. It seems Riva is on this boat as part of a mission from the knighthood for her to prove her obedience to the order. Fizban also has a mission for Riva, instructing her to bring her love of goodness, justice, and mercy to the continent of Taladas, a continent of Krynn that hasn't known those virtues for centuries.

Before her boat crashes into the rocky shoreline, Fizban teleports the warrior and her magical dragonlance onto the dry plains of this new land. Nearby, Riva sees two people on horseback (a man and gnome) being chased by a huge group of warriors. The two are so desperate to evade the chasing legion, they push their horses to leap over a huge chasm.

On the other side of the chasm, they are confronted by a one-handed minotaur named Axantheas riding atop a blue dragon. The minotaur focuses on trying to kill Griffin, the human warrior, while Skrum rides his horse into the nearby forest for cover.

Axantheas, believing the gnome is in possession of a special ring, has his blue dragon unleash lighting strikes in an attempt to burn the forest down. Skrum is able to ride out of the forest and rejoin Griffin. As the two ride away, the blue dragon gives chase, mere feet away from snatching the riders off their horses.

From a high outcrop, Riva jumps onto the beast, plunging her dragonlance into the dragon's hide. As the dragon twists around, Riva falls to the ground and immediately takes a position ready to spear the creature again if it gets close enough.

As the dragon dives toward the young woman, Griffin snatches her up onto the back of his horse and rides toward the dragon. Riva, now standing on the back of Griffin's horse, stabs the blue dragon in it's exposed underbelly. The attack causes her dragonlance to break and sends the dying creature down a deep canyon. As it falls, the minotaur is able to safely leap off the steed.

As they ride away from the area, introductions are made, and Griffin mentions that he and Skrum are soldiers of "The League of Minotaurs" (a name Riva is not familiar with). Finding a quite cave nearby, the three stop for a rest. Griffin learned that the general had made a deal with the Erestem, the Queen of Darkness (another name Riva doesn't know) against the Emperor of the League. Fearing for their own lives in such a civil war, Griffin and Skrum stole the dragon ring from the general, by cutting off his hand, and were trying to inform the emperor of his general's treachery.

Overhead, the sound of horses indicates that the soldiers are still searching for Griffin and Skrum and riding away from their current spot. As the three head out of the cave, they are surrounded by a group of soldiers, the ones they heard overhead in the cave were securing the other exit from the caves.

Surrounded by human and minotaur soldiers, Griffin decides to surrender. While they will be executed for treason, that will be done before the Emperor of the League, the one person capable of helping them.

Commentary

Before I start my review, let's have a little history lesson. Late 1989, TSR decided rather than continue to develop the existing Dragonlance setting (the continent of Ansalon) for the Dungeons and Dragons game, instead to launch a new setting, Taladas. Taladas was set in the same world, but on a totally different continent.
Trivia: For almost 15 years these comics would be the only fiction set on this new continent until 2005 when Chris Pierson wrote Blades of the Tiger, the first book in the "Taladas Trilogy".
When the story first appeared, I was disappointed, as I would rather read more stories set on Ansalon than a new land that I didn't care as much about.

But putting that aside, this was a great first issue. The artwork was great, with plenty of detail on the dragon and the minotaurs and the action scenes, especially Riva and Fizban on the boat, and Riva fighting the blue dragon were exciting and well paced.

One thing I didn't like was the slight changes to Riva's appearance. In this issue she appears more muscular for one, but worst of all, her facial expressions seem more intense, more angry, even when they shouldn't be.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to the next part of the story, and maybe a return of the "softer, gentler" Riva we've seen in the other stories.