In february 2008, Devil's Due started to release a new line of comics based on D&D license : The Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons
The serie will ends the same year with the publishing of the 7th issue due to DDP's bad financial management.
2 TPB will be released. The first one compiles the first 2 volumes of the serie with the single issue Eye of the Wolf and the second tome, the issues 3 to 5.
Issues 6 & 7 will never been compiled in TPB.
The serie in its whole is a melting pot of short novels based on different D&D settings as Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Eberron or Dark Sun, each story being developped by its own writers and artists.
First story is entitled Dark Mirror and is set in the Forgotten Realms.
Written by famous R.A. Salvatore, its art is done by Rafael Kayanan.
It s been published in 2 parts in the issues 1 & 2.
It s a short story of the ûber-famous drow Drizzt Do'Urden involved in the rescue of kidnapped villagers while he s on his way to Lady Alustriel's. He will then hunt a goblin named Nojheim who fled the fight. Later, he ll discover that the goblin is in fact the slave of Rico, the big guy of the village...
Everything in this short is just amazing. The plot, the narrating, the art, all fits perfectly Drizzt's world.
The original story was released in the 1993 anthology Realms of Valor, edited by James Lowder.
The style is dark and sharp as is the story. Artist Rafael Kayanan, helped by Lovern Kindzierski for the coloring created a masterpiece here.
In the second story entitled The Legacy and based on Dragonlance setting, published as well in 2 parts in the first 2 issues, we re following Palin Majere, son of Caramon and nephew of the greatest mage Raistlin.
The story is based on a part of the novel The Second Generation by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickmann. The events depicted take place years after the War of the Lance and start the era known as the Fifth Age.
It relates the adventure of Palin at the Palanthas' Tower of High Sorcery where he will travel through the magical portal that leads to the domain of Thakisis, the evil goddess, where his uncle, the archmage Raistlin, is held prisoner...
Besides the good narrating, I am not a great fan of the art by Javier Aranda mixed with the coloring by Chris Summers... Imo, the colors are far too bright and the chara design is a bit childish considering the story.
The third story is entitled Elminster at the Magefair and has been released in 2 parts in issues 3 & 4.
Written by Ed Greenwood and adapted by Jeff Grubb, this adventure of the most famous archmage of the Forgotten Realms has been put on paper by Juanfran Moyano (colors by Malti Verma).
Somehow closed to the spirit of the TSR Limited Editions, we have here a funny adventure of Elminster and his "bodyguard" Storm Silverhand at the magefair (kind of wizardry convention).
As "Dark Mirror", it was originally compiled in the anthology Realms of Valor.
The art is pretty decent and the narrating is just hilarious, as one could expect considering the main character...
4th story is based on Ravenloft setting.
Released in issue 3, it s entitled The Rigor of the Game.
This very short story (only 20 pages... sadly !) is a real masterpiece for a bunch of reasons. It is the first comic adaptation based on Ravenloft setting.
Ravenloft, also known as the Demiplane of Dread, is not a common D&D world.
It exists in parallel with the other worlds and has no definitive frontiers. The border of the world in engulfed in a mystical mist. This mist can appear in any other D&D world to draw any evil character into the demiplane.
Ravenloft is divided into Domains that are ruled by Darklords, who were powerful damned characters in other worlds and who are now imprisoned within, where they suffer their torments for eternity. Most famous Darklords are the vampire Strahd von Zarovich, the lich Azalin and the death knight Lord Soth.
In this story, we re following a certain Arkwright (Oliver), a gambler with an extraordinary luck who will have to play dice against the doomed Lord soth...
Lord Soth, known as the Knight of the Black Rose, great villain of the Dragonlance setting was once Lord Loren Soth of Dargaard Keep. Doomed to undead curse by his last wife he murdered for a presumed infidelity while he should have been saving Krynn from the Cataclysm, he was taken by the mist of Ravenloft during the events of the Blue Lady's War as he was fighting with his servant Caradoc who betrayed him. Once in the Demiplane of Dread, after a stay in the Domain of Barovia ruled by Strahd, he got granted his own domain, Sithicus, the land of spectres.
The plot here takes place in an inn named the Iron Warden.
It is adapted from the story of the same name published in the novel anthology The Tales of Ravenloft. It has been written and adapted by James Lowder himself who has written most of the novels featuring Soth.
The artist is the great Tim Seeley and Lizzy John is in charge of the coloring.
The visual render is spectacular, perfectly fitting the dark gothic atmosphere of the setting.
A Stone's Throw Away, 5th story of this anthology, released in 2 parts in issues 4 & 5, depicts the incidents involving the kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot as he got in his possession (heh...) a magical ring and confronted the Magus, a poweful necromancer.
The Story, originally written for Dragon Magazine #85 (1984), set in Dragonlance, is from Roger E. Moore and adapted by Stan.
Artist is Javier Aranda, assisted by Andrew Elder for the coloring.
As anything involving a kender, and especially Tas, the narrating is hilarious as it becomes more and more Murphy-ish. It reminds me of the lost TSR Limited Edition "The Unity of Ring" as for the plot as for the humor.
About the art, I have to say that if I have been disappointed by J. Aranda on his previous D&D work, this time it s pretty ok. The only remark is about the coloring here. Apparently A. Elder opted for a dominance of red or blue, and imo, it s a bit "too-much"...
But well, in its whole it s a very nice and entertaining work we have here.
6th story, based on Eberron setting and entitled The Weight of Water, went out in issue 5. Written by Ed Bolme, adapted by Chad Rebmann. Art by Eric J. and colors by Rob Ruffolo.
This is a strange story of a conflict between 2 armies, one from Karrnath (in red), and the other from Aundair (in blue).
The troups of Karrnath, following the orders of some female necromancer, are attacking caravans under the protection of Aundair. A monk from Aundair named Teron is sent with the army to discover why the caravans are disappearing and to solve the problem.
In the end, it s more a fairy tale with some moral of the story. The whole looks like a chess game.
The story first went out in the Eberron anthology The Tales of the Last War, released in 2006.
The art is decent but the style reminds me of late 90's comics.
It s the second time Eberron is adapted into comic but the plot could have been set anywhere else imo...
Note also that this is the last Worlds of D&D story compiled in TPB.
In Raistlin and the Knight of Solamnia, 7th story that appears in issue 6, we re back in Dragonlance.
The artist Javier Aranda and colorist Alejandro Torres give us some decent work on this adaptation by Paul D. Storrie of a novel from writers Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickmann.
The original novel was released in the anthology Tales of Dragonlance II, vol. 3 The War of the Lance.
The plot takes place just after Raistlin successfully passed his test to become a mage. Seeking for a job, Raistlin and his brother Caramon are spending a moment in some inn when they got accosted by a Kender named Earwig Lockpicker who claims to be friend of Tasslehoff... Then a knight of Solmania and his family enters the inn...
This will lead the companions and the knight to some haunted ruins they have to uncurse to earn some gold...
Following the principle of having a short story that focus on a specific aspect of the D&D setting (here, the mistrust between Knights and Mages) this story do the job, no more no less. Just another short novel fairly adapted.
The 8th story is far more interesting as it is set in Dark Sun.
Entitled Hunt's End, it s the first comic adaptation ever in this setting.
Adapted by Andrew Dabb, this story, written by Rudy Thauberger, is drawn by Chris Steininger and colored by Joseph Baker.
To my knowledge, R. Thauberger originally wrote it for Dragon Magazine 220 (august 95).
Dark Sun is a setting born in 1991 featuring a post-apocalyptic world name Athas.
Long ago it was a luxuriant planet that has been stripped of its natural richness by the excessive use of the power known as defiling magic. Now, it s mostly a desertic world with oasis here and there and some major cities ruled by the Sorcerer-Kings.
The rarity of metal is so that most of weapons are made of wood, bones or obsidian. Most of the races developped psionist abilities to be able to survive in this deadly environment. Athas also counts unique playable races as the Thri-Kreen (mantis men) or Aarakocra (bird men).
Here, we re following a halfling outcast named Tanok and his two thri-kreen companions K'rt & Rr'k hunting down a caravan of Templars of the Sorcerer-King of Draj, city-state in the northeastern area of the Tyr Region. (Draj is an Aztec-inspired state btw)
Colorist Joseph Baker did a great job here, rendering the impression of dryness by using a nice panel of yellows and browns.
Steininger's "jagged" style fits nicely the raw brutality of the story.
Note that in 2011, IDW Publishing will release a 5 comics story based on Dark Sun.
9th story, The Great Hunt, that went out in nov. 08 in the7th and last issue of The Worlds of D&D is based on the Forgotten Realms setting.
It s been written and adapted by the well-known Elaine Cunningham. The art is by Jose Aviles and coloring by Kenneth Loh.
It s another story about a hunt... this time orcs, followers of Malar the Beastlord, hunting elves of Tethyr's forest during the War of Reclamation. But against all odds, the orcs have to fight a powerful enemy, the moon elf and crime lord Elaith Craulnober who s escorting the half-elf princess Arilyn Moonblade. These two will cause difficulties to the hunters...
Elaine Cunningham originally wrote this short for issue 246 of Dragon magazine (1998).
It s a nice story, with rare speach bubbles. The style and coloring are pretty ok.
There is no much to say as it s just a "slice of life" in the end...
10th and last story is entitled Definitions of Honor.
Written and adapted by Richard A. Knaak, it has been drawn by Pat Quinn and colored by Joseph Baker.
Set in Dragonlance, we re following a young solamnic knight named Torbin seeking for some glory. Arriving at Dragon's Point, a little village of fishers, he s asked to get rid of a minotaur who s terrorizing the inhabitants.
But the minotaur turns out to be not that evil threat he was described as...
The story is taken from the anthology "Kender, Gully Dwarves, and Gnomes" that went out in 1987 and that compiles 10 short stories.
The art is pretty decent. The colors are a bit drab, almost pastel and offer the reader a strange but not unpleasant atmosphere.
In 10 short stories, DDP gives us a nice insight of the different D&D settings.
The parallel with TSR Limited Editions is obvious.
Imo, the redundant feeling that comes out in all these stories is the sense of the absurd in different situations. I tend to think this was the base of reflexion of DDP staff when they had to choose what to adapt.
This anthology is a success. If some of the stories are just so-so, the quality of work in the whole worth it.