Jul 3, 2013

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 34) - On Death of Pain - The Legend of the Blackgem (Part 2)

On Death of Pain - Part 2

This issue picks up just after the end of #33. It starts with the healer giving us an update on Griffin, who was gravely wounded, and needed the care of the healer Tykel. While Griffin is responding well to the herbs that the healer is using, Skrum and Riva ask her to continue with the story of Miisia and the Blackgem.

After a little dialog from Tykel (catching us up on the events of issue 33), we jump into the story with Lord Bylarr simultaneously threatening and trying to inspire his troops to press on. Lord Bylarr also dumps a lot of backstory on us explaining that while he has the Blackgem, he wants to destroy Marsval Solarzz, and that he needs to bring the gem to the same location Marsval was intending to go anyway. Seems to active the power, you also need to bring it to the one place were it can be destroyed (wow, that's an original idea).

Marsval and Miisia travel through a snow covered mountain where they encounter some tribal elves. The elves are escorting one of their aged clan leaders to a ceremonial place to die.

Guess where that place just so happens to be.

Miisia touches the old elf, seemingly healing him of the sickness that has been ravaging his body. This act earns Marsval and Miisia the friendship of the elves, who agree to allow these two to accompany them to the same place they were already headed.

Along the pathway they encounter a manifestation of the evil of the mountain, brandish their weapons, and walk on through. Finally they arrive at what the elves referrer to as The Temple of the Masters of Light and Dark, a place dedicated to the balance of power between good and evil, but long since corrupted to the side of darkness.

Luckily Lord Bylarr arrives just in time to confront his enemy and reveal that the Blackgem is a kind of key to tapping into the power of the Temple, depending on the intentions of the bearer of the gem.

Lord Bylarr uses the gem to call forth a sentient stone elemental and through the elemental then enchants all his cohorts to attack the elves and Marsval. Miisia, who is not caught up in the fight makes her way to the stone creature and then attempts to heal it of the evil infused within. This caused a chain reaction purging the elemental of it's evil taint. The temple then attempted to re-infused the elemental by drawing on the evil within Lord Bylarr, which Miisia purged as well and which also ended up killing Lord Bylarr.

The sentient elemental, now cleaned of the evil that was within is willing to grant Miisia a reward for her service. Here, instead of asking to be free of the healing "curse" as she had seen it, not realizes that her "gift" is what saved the day here, and throughout all of Taladas.

Back in the present, as Griffin starts to awaken, Tykel comments on the power of destiny while looking at Riva. The female knight wonders if the old healer knows about her secret mission on behalf of Paladine and if she might some day be as lucky or sure as Miisia.

The End.

Commentary

So here, after 34 issues, we come to the finale of the TSR/DC Dragonlance comics run, and what a mess it is. As much as I liked the first part of this story, this issue was such a let down.

The story here just seemed too contrived. The same place Marsval was heading to secure the gem's safety is the same place Lord Bylarr needs to go to unleash it's power. Along the way Miisia runs into some elves that quickly join up with them. Encounter the "manifestations of evil" was almost pointless. And speaking of pointless, Marsval literally doesn't do a single thing in this issue other than carry Miisia from point A to point B and make a speech about needing to try and stop Lord Bylarr, without actually knowing how they are going to do that. Oh, and in the final battle, Marsval runs into the fighting fray weaponless. Everyone else has a sword, or spear, but Marsval only has clenched fists.

On top of the mess of plot that is actually shown, there are a truckload of plot holes that can't be overlooked, including the most obvious--if Miisia healed Kyyy (the dying elf, and not a keyboard typo), why do the elves continue to take him to where he is to die? (because the story needed cannon fodder for the final battle) I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

The art doesn't fare much better. The "manifestations of evil" encountered along the way look silly, like something out of a child's drawing. Here would have been a good place to have a combat with shadows or any number of D&D creatures, rather than another scene of the party moving through the mountain. Likewise, the stone elemental, doesn't look like anything I've ever seen, and in fact both the evil and cleansed versions come off more like a superhero villain than any D&D creature.

Postscript

This would turn out to be the last original Dragonlance comic for some time. From what I had read, TSR ended it's license with DC with the plan to launch their own comic book division and continue many of the DC books, including the Forgotten Realms books and this one, in house. Internal issues at TSR lead to this idea being abandoned, which was a real shame for the FR books, which were far superior to the Dragonlance effort, which I feel never had a strong idea of what it wanted to be, and then never had a strong D&D fantasy-based writer like the FR book had in Jeff Grubb.

The Dragonlance comic was a great idea, but one that was never executed to it's full potential.