Sep 15, 2011

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 29) - (Untitled)

A Sort of Homecoming

UntitledThis issue starts off with Riva and her friends still on board the ship of Captain Antara. They are (once again) in the middle of a shard storm and trying to get into a harbor cave, but the magic password Captain Antara knew no longer seems to work. To avoid slamming into the heavy doors at the mouth of the cave, the tiger elves Sulia and Maraghiz work their magic to pry the door open.

Once inside they are meet by the local council, including Aris (whom Antara seems to know), and Krey, a mage recently appointed to the council. We quickly see that Krey is a brash youth rigidly following his people's traditions.

Just then, from outside the cave (and just as the raging storm has passed), the local harvest fields are besieged by a swarm of horax (huge bug-like creatures). Riva and her friends spring into action along side other glass folk in an attempt to keep the horax from destroying their food supply.

During the fight, Krey unleashes a fire spell that not only harms the horax, but also starts a brush fire among the community's grain supply for the winter. For his actions, the council sentences Krey to death, in accordance with their code.

While Riva sees Krey's actions as foolish, she doesn't think the young mage deserves death. She tries to convince the council to show mercy, and embrace the teachings of her god Paladine (who is unheard of on the continent of Taladas). Riva learns that instead of death, the council has chosen to exile Krey from the community, just as another shard storm begins.

Riva and her companions rush out to rescue the young mage who would sure perish all alone in the storm. When they return, Riva's dragon Ktarrh, crashes through the gate to get back in. This starts a fight between the glass folk and Riva's companions, with Riva and Captain Antara forced to take sides against each other.

During the fight, Krey lunges at Aris, choking him and saying "Tournament me no longer Aris! Set me free or end it now!" Just then he is hit in the back by an arrow from Tanal, a glass folk archer that Riva saved earlier during the horax attack.

The next day, Riva and Captain Antara make amends as they sail off. The captain comments that Riva's quest to bring knowledge of Paladine to the people's of Taladas may be "a fool's errand".

Commentary

Unlike many of the previous issues, overall the story here wasn't bad, just not well plotted. This issue was written by Charles and Lisa Moore, not regular scribe Ron Randall. The art, by Alan Kupperberg (also not the regular artist), on the other hand was atrocious.

In the opening sequence, with the ship caught in the shard storm (which wasn't that original as we saw a similar situation a few issues earlier), everyone is dressed in storm gear that looks like it came from an REI catalog, instead of belong to warriors and wizards from a fantasy setting.

Later, during the battle with the horax, the various fights lack any intensity, or blood for that matter. Everyone seems to attacking the horax in the most subdued manner possible. Here was definitely a lost chance to set the tense for the second half of the story.

Later we see Riva going to the council, and why she wants to speak with them, but before she makes her case, they basically say "ha, ha, we've already kicked him out". Here was another lost chance to show Riva trying and failing, and then rushing out to get Krey as more an act of her redemption than Krey's.

Lastly, we see this silly fight between the glass folk and Riva's companions. While the stand off between Riva and Captain Antara could have been more interesting, if better developed, the "fight" between Krey and Aris made no sense (why was the mage strangling him when he should have had plenty of spells) other than to provide a plausible justification for Tanal to shoot the mage in the back.

Tying in the fact that Riva saved the archer earlier, only to see that good deed come back in a bad way was a nice touch, but too little in an otherwise bland story.

The preview for the next issue promises the return of the regular writer and artist. While they haven't really inspired me before, maybe this time will be different. Always the optimist with Dragonlance, I keep hoping the book will get better.