2020/07/14

D&D comics history part 38 - Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons (IDW - Oni Press)

   Within its history, D&D had some official crossovers (most often as RPG modules) with existing licensed settings such as Conan, Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser, Ptolus, Diablo, Magic : The Gathering or even World of Warcraft. When these worlds had all the fantasy environment potential to be adapted/linked to D&D, some were less obvious as Infestation 2 comics or the recently red box adaptation of the Stranger Things' Netflix series. In the same vein, in 2018, will be published the unexpected crossover comic :

Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons

TPB cover

   Rick and Morty is an animated sitcom created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon that premiered on [adult swim] in december 2013. It's an adult cynical science-fiction show depicting the adventures of the Smith family which is composed of the parents, Jerry & Beth, their children Morty & Summer and Beth's father Rick Sanchez. The anime is mainly focusing on the duo Rick and his grand-child Morty as one could expect.

From left ro right : Morty, Summer, Jerry, Rick and Beth

   Rick is without a doubt a selfish, alcoholic and misanthropic sociopath as much as he's a genius scientist suffering of abyssal boredom who is able to travel to space and other dimensions. To bear his world(s)-weariness, he'll bring his grand-child (and later other family members) with him on his trips that often turn to some cataclysmic disasters.
   Morty, on his side, is a beta 14 yo boy, fearing his own shadow and totally submit to his grand-father's will.
   The duo is clearly inspired by Marty McFly and 'Doc' from the Back to the Future movie franchise and most of the episodes will have winks to pop & geek culture's elements (when they are not fully inspired by such) and built on elaborated SF concepts.

Marty & Doc from Back to the Future

   The success of Rick and Morty will be such -around 25 awards-nominations and winner of a third of these- that it will be adapted on different supports as comics, issued by Oni Press from april 2005 (60 regular issues plus a 20ish independant ones as of june 2020), video and family games as well as various other goodies.

   And so in 2018, the idea to do a comic crossover between Rick & Morty and Dungeons & Dragons germinates within the Oni Press staff. Against all odds, WotC validates the idea and an agreement is taken for a collaboration between the respective publishers : IDW and Oni Press. To do so, the chosen team will be composed of writer Jim Zub (who greatly brought his stone to the D&D universe by his works on the recent Baldur's Gate comics by IDW and his contribution to some RPG modules). He will be joined in the writing by epic fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss while the artwork will be taken in charge by cartoonist Troy Little. The coloring will be done by Leonardo Ito and the lettering by Robbie Robbins.

   This mini-series, as first planned as a one-shot, will be released in 4 issues from august 2018 to january 2019 before being compiled into TPB and HC and even later in a box set with exclusive variant covers. And here we come to the alternative covers thing... It is kinda the norm that comics are issued with variant covers, often A & B, sometimes some Retailer Incentive (RI) or Retailer Exclusive (RE) and more rarely Convention ones. We saw in the past that IDW was on the trend when they released their first D&D comic in 2010. At that time the issue #0 introducing both Fell's Five and Dark Sun was findable under the impressive number of 7 different covers. But here... heh here... we're far past this point as issue #1 of R&M vs D&D will have no less that 24 alternative covers... yeah, no typo... 24 damn alt covers !! (o_O;)
2nd and 3rd issue will be in the average, having respectively 4 and 5 ones when 4th and last one will still have 8 alts ! To these, add 3 TPB versions, 2 hardcovers and the box set release... Ouch for the collectors' wallets !! Yeah... OUCH !!

   Below is a visual checklist for those who would be on the insane compulsive Mortymon mood to catch them all... (I can proudly say I bravely resisted the mermaid's song that very one time ! XD)

Nah, don't thank me for that... get an appointment with your banker instead... I mean, just in case... you know... XD

   For sure the release of this particular crossover was a thing then ! To have a better understanding of the phenomenom here is a pict Jim Zub published on his twitter well showing how amazing its success was. If he didn't put numbers, the graph is still speaking for itself. o_o

A picture's worth a thousand words they used to say heh...

   So... so many covers and versions released. When most of these have the same content we will here do our best to list the ones that bring something more (cover art apart obviously) than the regular issue.

1. Sneak Preview Edition, aug. 2018 (cheklist line 3, last position)
It only contains the first 11 pages of first issue. Bonus : 2 pages of behind-the-scenes with a word from Sarah Gaydos, Oni Press Editorial Director of Licensed Publishing (and former Editor for IDW !) and pictures of page 5 in its different steps (first sketch, final sketch, inked page before coloring). Mix of rubber and glossy paper textures on cover.
Thoughts : Not a must-have but for the cover and the last 2 pages. For collectors only.

2. Director's Cut Edition, 2019 (cheklist line 3, 7th position)
Here, if we have the full first issue story, final colored pages alternate with final sketch or before coloring inked pages (sadly, no raw sketch page as we could had a glimpse in the Sneak Preview ed.). As bonus we will find a few alt covers arts, characters sketches, pages 15, 18 and 20 in different steps of processing and the interview with Jim Zub, Patrick Rothfuss and Troy Little that came with issue #1.
Thoughts : Honestly, I was waiting more from this edition, maybe core/building research sketches etc than only sketch pages before lining/coloring... but well, still brings a little something.

3. The 3D cover (cheklist line 3, 1st position)
Well, red & blue lenses glasses to enjoy the cover in 3-D. That had to be mentioned, no ?
Thoughts : If you've lost your 3D glasses from the 80's...

4. Normal TPB (checkist line 8, 3rd position)
Contains the whole story with almost all the single issues alternative covers (full colored versions only) except for the Sneak Preview Ed. and the exclusive box-set ones. Has also the interview and a page showing 4 before-colors pages as well as Jerry's character sheet.
Thoughts : Nice TPB with covers gallery. The cheapest for sure.

5. Barnes & Nobles Exclusive Edition TPB (checklist line 8, last position)
Said to contain the covers gallery (I guess as in normal TPB) with an introduction from Patrick Rothfuss, commentary from Troy Little and a bonus poster.
Thoughts : The TPB in a deluxe edition with a poster and a nice golden cover. A very nice pick for sure.

6. GameStop Exclusive Hardcover Edition (checklist line 8, 2nd position)
Has all the contents found in TPB (plus a page grouping the 5 characters found on chara-sheet covers), the interview is here too. The main addition to this version is a 12 pages adventure module for 4-6 level 1 characters entitled The Temple of Glorb written by Adam Lee (not mentioned) and of course the exclusive cover featuring Tiamat by Mike Vasquez.
Thoughts : The ultimate edition with RPG materials as bonus. I mean, run. Run for it ! Clearly the must-to-have if you can get it.
The Temple of Glorb map

7. The boxed set (checklist line 7)
Well, singles issues come in a box... with exclusive charasheets covers you can't find elsewhere.
Thoughts : For collectors only or as a nice present.

   Other variants may have some particular or unique addons that I'd be glad to mention here if I get the info. Let a comment or email me if you're aware of such !

   Now, it's time to have a look at the comic itself.

   The plot is taking place when Morty overhears a conversation about a D&D tabletop gaming session. He realises he knows nothing about D&D while it seems to be common knowledge within his schoolmates. After some digging on the web and other spying, he somehow comes to believe that "Gamers get laid"... Well decided to not miss the chance, he ends up in a retailing store, meets a girl-gamer who invites him to play on the next saturday as he's bragging to be an active roleplayer. Having brought back home all the basic manuals, he falls in desperation in front of the amount of rules and complexity while there are only few days left before the meeting. He will seek his grand-father's help and Rick will reveals his own D&D player's past... Pandora box opened.

Gamers get laid...

   After some unsuccessful tries on classic tabletop play with some old friends, Rick will bring Morty into a D&D simulator in a certain Greyhawk world... and later on, followed by the rest of the family, in a dimension known as The Forgotten Realms... Nothing will go as originally planned as you can expect...
WE DON'T. TALK. ABOUT. FOURTH.

   Jim Zub is a smart guy, no doubt considering how he managed to build entertaining stories using available materials. He's also a social-media guy, and seems at ease while it comes to socialize in his professional circle. As a result he quickly adopted the codes of the D&D world and industry and made himself a part of it, working on side projects for WotC, being an enjoyable guest in Conventions, participating in livestreamed gaming sessions, etc. And icing on the cake, he clearly understands what the audience is waiting for.

J.Zub & M.Mercer as Minsc & Boo on D&D LIVE (May 18, 2019)

   And here he succeeded to mix all the elements needed to avoid the main risks inherent to any crossover : disappointing both sides' fans (and incidentally be part of a financial/company image failure). Except the few that is said in their interview, I honestly have no clue on the working process between Zub and Rothfuss. But I would still bet that Zub is at the origin of a good part of the winks that will finally do the job by creating a known -and subconsciously intimate- environment easily recognizable by the audience. If it feels like home, if it smells like home, if it looks like home, that must be home...

   So we have here and there elements linked to the D&D history (1st and 2nd edition books, cartoon characters from the 80's show, etc) that will evoque memories to a generation born in the 70's, very alike the nostalgia you can feel watching a Stranger Things episode.

These beggars look somehow familiar...

   We have also elements from the actual D&D "star-system" and their dedicated medias (ie. Critical Role and Acquisitions Inc websites) appearance of famous D&D staff (as Chris Perkins or late Gary Gygax) or third-parties performers (as Matt Mercer, Satine Phoenix or Mazz) and other winks that will speak to the youngest fans.

A bunch of Dungeons Masters

   And last but not least, the profusion of lore contents, rule evocations, quests and RP situations will surely delight any roleplayer.

Roll for your life !

   On the Rick and Morty's side, we are in a typical scenario construction, respecting the clichés of the show as in the plot outcome as in the interaction between the characters. The art mastering of Troy Little on this comic is such as you totally forget it's not the original artist's work you're looking at.

   Tho, I tend to think that the D&D audience will slightly recognize itself more than R&M's one in this crossover but no doubt that fans of both will greatly enjoy the work done here. I guess that the tone has deliberately been put on an almost "family-friendly" level to enlarge the possible audience (some episodes of R&M being pushed far beyond any morality / ethics...). On this point, even if some R&M's fans could be a bit disappointed, I find it particulary and smartly well-balanced considering the context.

   To celebrate this amazing crossover, Oni Press will release an enamel pin from the first issue A cover that you could order on their site for 15$. It is actually sold out.

The enamel pin on its chara-sheet cardboard

   The success of the comic will be such that a second series entitled Painscape will be published from september 2019 and that, on fans request and in the vein of the GameStop edition, the adventure module box "Dungeons & Dragons vs. Rick and Morty" will be released 2 months later.

Now it's D&D vs. R&M ! Many thanks Santa btw ! :P

   Kinda an archetype of a success story we've been granted here. Wondering how far it will all go...  Wubba Lubba D&D !! o_O

2019/03/16

D&D comics history part 8 - War of the Gods ! Avatar (DC)

   Between February and May 1991, along with their D&D licensed ongoing series, DC will issue a standalone mini-series set in the Forgotten Realms :

War of the Gods ! Avatar


   This 3 issues series is the comic version of the three 1989 novels composing The Avatar Trilogy written by Scott Ciencin (Shadowdale, Tantras) & Troy Denning (Waterdeep) under the shared pen-name Richard Awlinson

The Avatar Trilogy - French novels version (Fleuve Noir, 1994)

   It's been adapted here by Barbara Kessel and a bunch of artists worked on these :
   Pencils : Dameon Willich (all issues)
   Inks : Monika Livingston & Tom Romano (issue #1)
            John Nyberg & Todd Hamilton (issues #2 & 3)
            Jerry Acerno, Jan Harpes, Pamela Eklund & Mickey Ritter (issue #3)
   Colors : Eric & Linda Kachelhofer (all issues)
   Letters : Elliot S. Maggin & Kim Yale (only credited in issue #3).

   The events told here depict what will be called the Time of Troubles. The deities of Faerûn are exiled from the Planes after the theft of the Tablets of Fate until these are recovered. Banished by Ao, Overgod of Abeir-Toril, to the mortal world, the gods are now roaming the Realms as avatars. Mystra, goddess of Magic (known as The Lady of Mysteries) will charge Ariel Manx (human wizardess more known as Midnight) to recover the Tablets and protect them from the other deities. The magic-user, now in possession of a mysterious amulet given by the goddess, will soon team up with Kelemvor Lyonsbane (human fighter), Adon (human cleric of Sune) and Cyric (human thief) to fulfill her mission. (Note that these four fellows are often and wrongly considered as being the Company of the Lynx which is in fact the band Midnight was working with and betrayed -for good reasons- before she met her actual companions)

From left to right : Kelemvor, Adon, Cyric and Midnight

   The story will take our heroes in many known places and they'll encounter an amazing number of characters during their quest, including (aside gods... XD) über-famous ones as Elminster or Khelben Blackstaff... It would be too long to list all the references here, but for those interested in these, each novel (so as a result each comic book) has its dedicated AD&D 2nd edition module (in which you'll find among tons of info, the stats of our protagonists...) :

FRE1 Shadowdale, FRE2 Tantras & FRE3 Waterdeep by Ed Greenwood (TSR, 1989)

   Patently this adaptation tends to respect the unfolding of the story as it is told in the novels, only sacrificing some passages by taking narrative shortcuts. In the whole if we can respect the idea behind its construction, the story-telling in the comics is far from being as fluent and understandable as in the novels. Not sure if a reader who's not aware of the universe or the plot would really get it... 

   More on that, the drawing, instead of helping the narration, is some kind of melting pot of -let's say- audacious but badly-rendered and disharmonious artistic choices, which makes the whole a thick soup you have great trouble swallowing... It also sometimes looks like a (basically) colored sketchbook... and the quality is not often there (and even being particularly awful at some point).

 Pages from book one (left), book two (middle) and book three (right)

   Despite the obvious desire to do well and some hard work we can't deny (282 pages in total !), the final rendering is far -very, very far- from being up to the expectation... It's really a shame as the story adapted here depicts one of the best epic moment that forged the history of the Realms... Now, it remains a viable materials source... but kinda a fail that marks the ending of the DC era within the D&D comics history.

(o_O;)

2019/03/12

D&D comics history part 37 - Evil at Baldur's Gate (IDW)

   In 2018, IDW continues releasing the adventures of Minsc and his crew in this 4th series dedicated to them once back in Baldur's Gate after their wanderings in the North (cf Frost Giant's Fury) :

Evil at Baldur's Gate

TPB cover (IDW, 2018)

   This will be a 5 issues series, all written by author Jim Zub. But, contrary to the previous ones, this time each issue contains a short story focusing on one (or two) character(s) with different team of artists working on each.


Part One : Minsc the Mighty

Issue #1, cover B

   Art by Dean Kotz, colors by Stefani Rennee and lettering done by Neil Uyetake.

   In this first part our bunch of adventurers are finally back in Baldur's Gate, tho still considered as outlaws. After their safe arrival in Krydle & Shandie's hideout, everyone is going about his/her own business. We're then following Minsc in his desire of acquiring back the fame he once had as the Beloved Ranger, former hero of the city. To do so he's heading to some tavern to get hints on any evil to fight. After having considered The Happy Joust "too jovial", The Drunken Lout "too inebriated" he finally enters The Gibbering Gizzard (these places being seemingly special creations for this comic). There he gets to know some local self-proclaimed hero of the people : Krigar the Courageous. This one having no desire to partner with anyone, Minsc will spy on him while he's confronting the Blades of Burgust, a band of thieves and assassins... 

Who's cast Control Weather ?? :P

   This part's art is pretty nice and if we're not in a thrilling scenario, this lays the foundation of the next issues and a possible upcoming story arc as Minsc is making here a new powerful enemy...

 Part Two : Krydle and Shandie

Issue #2, cover B

   Art by Steven Cummings, inks by John Wycough, colors by Jordy Escuin and letters by Neil Uyetake.

   This time we're following -as expected in the title- Krydle and Shandie, who, wandering in some undercellar, will encounter a certain Heltur they know... This one is accusing them to have participated, under the command of Burgust (cf part 1), in the kidnapping of an information broker known as The Fetcher. Claiming that he is in some deadly conflict relation with his former boss, Krydle decides to help free the informant and deal with Burgust once for all... 
   We learn here some aspect of Krydle's past : He was teaming up with Burgust and two other fellows (Dorjo the Jabber & Lili Swift) living of robbery -in some Robin Hood ethic- when Burgust wanted more and decided to create his own Thieves Guild. In his quest of power he ended totally paranoid and made imprison Lili, murdered Dorjo as well as Krydle's mother as this last one managed to run away...
   When freeing The Fetcher, our heroes learn the Blades of Burgust are planning to attack a secret meeting of the Parliament of Peers whose Coran and Ulder (cf Legends of Baldur's Gate) are part of...

Evil at Baldur's Gate #2 - Art by S. Cummings

   Note that at the end of this short story we have the discreet appearance of a certain Magister Mearls. It seems more than obvious it's a wink to Mike Mearls, senior manager of the D&D research and design team. He's credited in Murder in Baldur's Gate campaign guide as D&D Group Manager and we know that Jim Zub did use materials from this module before. (cf Legends of Baldur's Gate).
 2019 Gary Con XI - Epic Play with Mike Mearls as DM (left) - Magister Mearls & Ulder in Evil of Baldur's Gate (right)

   If Jim Zub gives us here a very nice and interesting background of one of his characters, I am personally a bit troubled on Cummings' art, especially on the characters' faces as they're not very recognizable in regards of the previous issues. On the other hand, we have some great smoke and light effects here and there which make the whole a still pretty nice-to-read issue.

Part Three : Delina in "Wild Ways"

Issue #3, cover B

   Art by Harvey Tolibao, colors by Juan Manuel Rodriquez and letters by Neil Uyetake.

   This issue is focusing on Delina who pays a visit to her friend, the Wizard-Librarian Matrikay at the Knowledge-Hold in order to fix her wild-magic controlling issue... to do so, the wizard teleports Delina in "a place of absolute order" where she might find answers, giving her a Recall-Stone for its safe return. Delina will end up in the Mechanus world -home of the Modrons- at Regulus (Cog 42 Region 16...) where she'll encounter who must be Primus (unnamed in the comic) and will have to face a trial before the Fraternity of Order...

Modron's quanticum logics... XD

  
Delina & Primus (left) - Delina & The Fraternity of Order (right)
 
   For a more indeep overview of Mechanus and the Modrons, both Dungeon Magazine #186 (Jan. 2011) and Dragon Magazine #414 (Aug. 2012) include very interesting articles :

Mechanus & Regulus - excerpt from Ecology of the Modron by Brian R. James (Dragon Magazine #414, 08/2012)

   This is a very nice issue Jim Zub & Harvey Tolibao offered us here, as much in the telling as in the art. We somehow find here the same oddness and inexorability that can only be found in Planescape's worlds in some sort of echo of the 1996 comic The Unity of the Ring.

Part Four : Beyond Death
 
Issue #4, cover B

   Art by Ramon Bachs, colors by Jordy Escuin and letters by Shawn Lee.

   Centered on Nerys Kathon, this issue tells how she will, with the help of the crew, deal with her lycanthropy issue she's facing since she was bitten by a werewolf in Shadows of the Vampire. Now aware of the curse, after her shapeshifting during a tavern brawl, our heroes will seek a cure at the Temple of Kelemvor where they'll inform Father Alby of the situation...

Ooops...

   We will note that Shandie makes some use of a dagger coated with Oil of Taggit, a powerful poison that makes its victims unconscious...

Oil of Taggit - Dungeon's Master Guide (p.258 - WotC, 2014)

   Nice issue where we assist on a somehow surprising and fluent conclusion of Nerys' narrative arc... it is still possible -if another series about these folks is ever published- that some unexpected plot twist may occur afterwards... but this is a story that remains to be told...Ramon Bachs' art is very pleasant and once again we're given a more-than-decent piece of work here.

Part Five : Hamster Quest

Issue #5, cover B

   Art by Francesco Mortarino, colors by Jordy Escuin and letters by Neil Uyetake.

   To conclude this mini-series, we are granted with a solo adventure of the cutest familiar ever : The Miniatiure Giant Space Hamster Boo ! While our heroes are deeply sleeping in their hideout, Boo wakes up and goes or a ramble on the cities' roofs. There it catches a bunch of adventurers having a conversation on the possible location of the hideout... This team of peanut brains is composed of Crimbo (male half-elf Wizard), Baden (male human Thief), Marrrue (female half-orc Warrior) and Shawneer (female human Sorcerer). Facing this unfortuitous threat against its companions, Boo will take care of the danger in its own way...

Far from A and not even B or C... here comes the Z-Team : :P

   Boo first appears as an "inventory item" in the video-game Baldur's Gate (Bioware, 1998) :

Boo "item" description - Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (Beamdog, 2012)

   He's described as a Miniature Giant Space Hamster, which is not Minsc's invention as it is an existing variant of the species as described in the Spelljammer's Bestiary :

Giant Space Hamster - AD&D 2nd edition's Spelljammer Monstruous Compendium (TSR, 1990)

   On a trivia aspect, we can note that Neil Uyetake used a lorem ipsum to fill a dialogue bubble... which is not strange in itself as the text font is so tiny, the bubble being not meant to be read... but the troubling thing is that, apart the beginning, it doesn't correspond to the classic version...
   And here is the thing : Do we have here a randomized text created by some tool/program or... as could be the tradition... could there be some funny hidden meaning inside... The hard part here is to get a clean and fully readable version of this miniaturized text... and then to be able to translate that from latin... I'll let the brave and the reckless deal with that riddle... waiting for your comments ! :P

LOREM IPSUM DOLOR SIT AMET, ILLUD VERITUS PRO E, EX... 

   This last issue of Evil at Baldur's Gate is without any doubt the funiest of the whole series. Franscesco Mortarino's art fits totally the spirit of the narrative, his style -especially on the characters faces- reminding me of Monkey Punch's works (Lupin III).


   In the continuity of WotC cross-media marketing (cf Legends of Baldur's Gate) and as advertised on the single issues' covers, each one contains a code that can be used in the steam version of Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms to get some bonus chests. To my knowledge, these are no longer valid at the time I am writing these lines (FYI, no code in the TPB version of the series). Here they are for a record :

MINS-CBAL-DURS-GATE
KRYD-LEAN-DSHA-NDIE
DELI-NATH-EWIL-DWAY
NERY-SKAT-HONC-URSE
ABOO-HAMS-TERQ-UEST

    It is a very nice and entertaining series Jim Zub and his bunch of artists offered us here. We have our heroes recovering from their past adventures, finding answers and getting back on their feet. The optimistic (and often funny) tone of these short-stories acts like a balm on the reader's spirit in an echo of the narrative... Now the question is to know if we're on some happy ending here or can we hope to see our heroes back on the road soon ? Time will tell I suppose...

o_O

2019/03/01

D&D comics history part 36 - Frost Giant's Fury (IDW)

   In 2017, IDW issues a new mini-series depicting the adventures of Minsc and his companions after their escape from the Demiplane of Dread at the end of Shadows of the Vampire. This third story of our heroes from Baldur's Gate will be part of WotC's ongoing event : Storm King's Thunder and will be released under the title :

Frost Giant's Fury

2017 TPB cover

   As for the 2 previous series, author Jim Zub is in charge of the writing. This time he associates with artist Netho Diaz. The coloring will be done by Thiago Ribeiro and Milen Parvanov while the inking will be by Glauber Matos and J.B. Neto. And as usual, Neil Uyetake will be in charge of the lettering and collection design.

   We find our heroes caught in a snowstorm, lost somewhere in the middle of the Frozenfar, west-northen region of the Spine of the World. Badly injured after their battle against the master vampire Strahd, they find refuge in a cave. But soon, their shelter is discovered by a group of ogres passing by that they will have to confront. Hopefully for our bunch of broken adventurers, they'll be helped in their fight by a certain Saarvin, a scout dragonborn that will then lead them to the mining city of Fireshear. And from there it becomes obvious Jim Zub once again based his story on the WotC's module issued for the eponymous ongoing event.

 Map of the Frozenfar

Storm King's Thunder adventure module (WotC, 2016)

   Saarvin is a character that appears briefly in the Storm King's Thunder module as a random wilderness encounter proposal (cf pict below). But, even if he has just a few lines describing him there, he will be added as a playable character in the upcoming and still work-in-progress android game : Warriors of Waterdeep by Ludia.

Saarvin - Ranger random encounter, Storm King's Thunder (p.71 - WotC, 2016)

Saarvin first appearance, Frost Giant's Fury #1 (IDW, 2017)

Saarvin in Warriors of Waterdeep - design by Gwen Houzelot (Ludia, 2018)

   After a few time spent in Fireshear healing, resting and equiping themselves with appropriate winter gears, our heroes, back on their feet, have to deal with a frost giants' raid on the city. Minsc and his crew will help defend the town adding their strenght to the Griffons' aerial support lead by Dasharra Keldabar. Krydle, on his side, will play an unexpected asset by releasing a White Dragon, captive of the giants, named Licanthe. This is barely the suggested encounter found in the module's description of the city (cf pict below)...

Firesheard description & suggested encounter - Storm King's Thunder (p.83-84 - WotC, 2016)

   The raiding giants' leader is a certain Lord Gryttmort who's heading to a peak named Cold Crag  willing to reach Licanthe's secret lair in order to seize a Dragon Orb. This artifact would allow him to get control on dragons and then to get the power to overthrow Storvald and take his place as a Jarl (and conquer the rest of the North from there...). To have Licanthe obey him and extort the hidden lair's location, he took the dragon's eggs in hostage. This is an interesting scenario Jim Zub constructed here as he mixed up different elements of the module. (cf extracts below). If Jarl Storvald is in the center of the module's plot elements that inspired the comic's narrative, he's replaced here by Gryttmort but however still being evocated once.

White dragon's eggs plot elements, SKT module p.11

Orb of dragonkind plot element, SKT module p.12

   As well, Gryttmort's headquarters (where our bunch of adventurers will finally end to achieve their goal - saving the North and all...) are a pretty unique floating iceberg fortress that is described in the module as being Svardborg (cf upper map of the Frozenfar) :

Gryttmort's Fortress

Svardborg map - Storm King's Thunder (p.160 - WotC, 2016)

   Jim Zub definitely excels in his put-a-module-in-a-shaker-and-get-a-story processing. He really has an eye to select the plot elements that will set his narrative up and the talent to bring credibility to his characters via the wide range of emotions they go through. Netho Diaz did an amazing work here, his style fitting perfectly the narration with the use of ruggish lines emphasing the decrepitude of our heroes and the hostile environment they are facing.
 
   And bonus (!) : we're granted at the end of each issue (as well as in the TPB) with our five heroes' chara-sheets. These are meant to be used by roleplayers (cf disclaimer at the bottom of each) and are freely available in pdf on Wizards' website. Here's Nerys' one for an insight :


No doubt... within the D&D comics world, IDW rules and we can only hope it will last for long !

°-°