D&D comics history part 31 - Abraxis Wren of Eberron (IDW)

   In early 2012, IDW published the first story with Abraxis Wren, an Eberron inquisitive (detective) created in 2007 to be the main protagonist of the novel Night of the Long Shadows by Paul Crilley. The author will give his hero another novel in 2010 : Taint of the Black Brigade.

   IDW on their hands, will issue 2 stories of Abraxis. First one is part of Infestation 2. Second one is edited as Dungeons & Dragons - Annual 2012 : Eberron. And both will be compiled -dun ask me why.... o_O- among with Eye of the Wolf, an Eberron comic pusblished by DDP (and already compiled itself in DDP's The Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons) in a 2015 TPB entitled :

Abraxis Wren of Eberron

Omnibus TPB Cover

   So, Infestation 2... concept comic compilation around a common thema covering different universes. In 2011, IDW released Infestation, a Zombie invasion that occured in different worlds. We will have then zombie stories in Tranformers, G.I. Joe, Start Trek, Ghostbusters and Pocket God. Each world has its dedicated chapter and there is no featuring (I mean no real crossover) between them except in the Infestation chapters set in CVO : Covert Vampiric Operations universe (intro and conclusion ones). This time, with Infestation 2, we're not in zombies anymore but all heroes will have to deal with a H.P. Lovecraft's Horror... It's huge, it mostly have tentacles... yeah the Great Ancient is not far away... "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" :D

 Infestation 1 & 2 HC covers

   In the second volume, the Elder God of Lovecraft will invade CVO, 30 Days of Night, G.I. Joe, TMNT, The Transformers, Team Up (IDW's) and of course Dungeons & Dragons that is taking 2 chapters within the total 16. (Btw, the Team Up chapter winks a 2013 Infestation 3 on a newspaper article but IDW will never issue it. There are some preludes to Infestation and epilogues as Infestation : Outbreak but that stops there.

   Infestation 2 : Dungeons & Dragons will be originally released as 2 comics. First issue has A,B & RI covers when second one has only A & RI ones. And each issue has an Infestation 2 checklist on its back-cover.

 RI cover versions & back-cover (issue #1)

   One could only get these 2 as every story is just based on a global concept and not really crossing over any other universe/tale. But ! One would be missing that :

Yeah... I know... amazing heh XD
   Truly am only pointing that in a collector's point of view... You'd be lacking this very one page in your D&D collection if you only acquire the single D&D issues instead of the hardcover omnibus...  well... getting Infestation 2 #1 (CVO) in addtion to D&D's works too tho... anyway, just saying heh.

   Infestation 2 - Dungeons & Dragons is written by Abraxis' "father" Paul Crilley, art by Valerio Schiti, colors by Scarletgothica and lettering by Chirs Mowry.

   V. Schiti did an amazing work on this, reminding me of Tim Selley's art on The Rigor of the Game. The rendering is spectacular and fits totally the steampunk ambiance of Eberron. On the story, well, we're meeting Abraxis Wren and his dwarven accolyte Torin. These two are clearly inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and I would even say by the Guy Ritchie movies ones.

Here is some little background of Abraxis found on the web :

   Abraxis Wren was born and raised in Sharn. His father spent his later years obsessing over the creation of the "perfect" appartment in the Skyway neighborhood of the City of Towers. Wren's father was incredibly wealthy, and, after he drank himself into an early grave, Wren inherited a vast fortune, that provides him with a lifestyle that grants him a personal freedom that few ever know. During the Last War, Wren fought for Breland, when he was not in the service of House Medani - those few times that the two had different interests. Wren does not speak about the War much, but those who do hear him speak of it can get the idea that he saw some serious combat.
   Wren was once married. His ex-wife Lyra d'Medani agreed to several dangerous missions, while she was pregnant. The last of them resulted in her capture and the loss of their unborn child, due to an infection resulting from her injuries. After the War was over, she was released. When Wren found out that she had lost the baby, he walked away from her and House Medani. The House understood the reason for his leaving and did not officially kick him out of the house.
   Wren returned to Sharn, where he used the skills that House Medani had taught him as a Master Inquisitive. He claims to be the best inquisitive in all of Sharn. There are few who can honestly disagree, even if they may do so only begrudgingly. He has taken on an assistant, an older dwarf by the name of Torin.

   Abraxis Wren : A half-elf aristocrat and playboy. When he's not partying with the upper class or exploring the red light districts of Sharn, Wren can be found uncovering the latest mysteries as a self proclaimed inquisitive. He is a well travelled individual, spending time in all five nations accompanied with his best friend Torin. Unlike the majority of Half-Elves whom are a race of their own Wren's father was an Elf and his Mother Human. Wren is a magic user and carries a wand though he also wields a set of modified hand crossbows he created himself.
   Torin : A member at Morgrave university, a typical book worm and faithful husband, this dwarf is the opposite of Wren but is somehow his closest and oldest friend. Wren's playboy and impulsive attitude often drags Torin into the company of women and courtesans which has led to his wife despising Wren. Torin's skills are best suited to an academic lifestyle though he still wields a blade.

   After having closed a case in some Hercule-Poirot-doesn't-give-a-fuck-anymore scene and starting to investigate on a missing person, the comic duo (well... a half-elf and a dwarf heh...) will be misleaded in their reasoning and will end creating a monstrous shitstorm in their city of Sharn and then would have to find a solution to fix their disastrous and apocalyptic mess. Action, humor, self-derision, steampunk, fantasy, when a Sherlock meets a Cthulhu on a well drawn comic... a must-to-have imo. Once again IDW greatly planned their D&D adventure in the comics world for the joy of their readers.

   One could have thought it would end here but IDW wasn t done yet with Abraxis and Torin.
The same year they issued a thin TPB (that has 2 RI -Valerio Schiti sketches- variant covers) :

Dungeons & Dragons Annual 2012 : Eberron

   If once more, the story is written by Paul Crilley, this time art is done by Paco Diaz (for first and third chapters) and Atilio Rojo (for second one), coloring by Jesus Aburtov and Graphikslava, and lettering by Shawn Lee.

   It now seems obvious P. Crilley loves detective stories (aside the fact his main character is an inquisitive I mean...) as the reader finds himself in some known atmosphere, plunged into collective memory's references. With this story, it's more than obvious that the author got inspired by Agatha Cristie's Murder on the Orient Express. The whole story is taking place in a luxury class lighting train, the Breland Express where a murder (at first...) will be commited.

   In the first pages we are noticed this adventure takes place a few after the Infestation 2 events as Wren is complaining, drunk at the restaurant car.

   P. Crilley is playing with detective stories codes as he will introduce a character who is somewhat reminiscent of another Agatha Cristie's classic character : Miss Jane Marple. Here named Asta Telandra, this grumpy armchair detective designates herself as an amateur sleuth who solved over hundreds of case and, as we could expect, some competition will begin between her and Abraxis.

Chapter I page (art by Diaz)                                     Margareth Rutherford as Miss Marple      

    Despite the obvious inspirations of the author, we're not into some retelling of a famous story but rather in some nice and entertaining original political (yeah... there is some of that too) and crime story. The art is pretty decent and in the whole respect the work Valerio Schiti did in Infestation 2, tho we can notice Wren Abraxis is here found more robust and less dumb looking than he was then. The part drawn by artist Rojo shows a more light and shadow style but as slighty as it is not creating a visual gap between chapters, gratefully for the readers.

Dead men tell no tales... (art by Rojo) 

   In addition to the story, the annual 2012 offers the reader the seven first pages of the Abraxis novel Taint of the black Brigade by Paul Crolley, bonus that is not included in the Abraxis Wren of Eberron omnibus.

   We can be glad IDW gave us some nice comics to discover Eberron world. The few DDP issued before wasn't particulary depicting this steampunk D&D universe as one could have expected. Here we have both entertaining stories, charismatic characters and a nice and understandable insight of this setting born in 2002. Definitely a success !


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