Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2012. Show all posts


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 !



D&D comics history part 30 - Forgotten Realms (IDW)

In 2012, IDW continues expanding its D&D comics line, starting a new series simply entitled :

Forgotten Realms

HC cover

   It will be a 5 issues series that will be edited in HC and TPB versions as well.
First issue will have 4 different covers when the rest will have 3. To my knowledge, there's no module edition for this. (which is sad considering the rich environment of the story)
The HC has the chapters (single issues cut) separated by A & B covers pages. And an art gallery at the end of the book shows off the RI covers (characters sketch ones). Owning only the HC, I can't assure it, but it seems there wasn't any RPG materials added to the issues.

 Sketch page from the art gallery (C-cover of issue #3)

   Story by famous Ed Greenwood, art by Lee Ferguson, inks by Sal Buscema & Marc Deering, colors by Len O'Grady & Dee Cunniffe and lettering by Shawn Lee, Tom B. Long & Neil Uyetake.

   So, it is a very interesting piece we have here. I have to admit that I wasn't very fan of the art at first, finding the characters very static, most often shown on front or side view with very angulous or very round faces... and often lacking facial expressions. As well, it's sometimes difficult to recognize the different characters... This may be why it took me years to finally get this out of the shelves and read it... and, passed the visual aspect, I have to say it's pretty well written and we have here a very rich and promising scenario. And I would add that I was particulary surprised -in a good way- by the sense of humor put in this story... somehow very brits' one. :)

Meanwhile, in North Ward..................... meanwhile in the Ghost Holds

   We're following the misfortunate adventures of Randral Daunter and Torn "Steeleye" Telmantle, both ruffians (greatly inspired by Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) evolving in the dock ward's streets of the City of Splendors, the well-known Waterdeep (cf Brief description of Waterdeep below). Getting involved in some kidnapping they end being forced by a Tempus curse to rescue and protect the abducted noble miss of House Roaringhorn (cf map below), Lady Talandra. But nothing is as simple as it looks like and a bunch of different groups and entities are entangled in this affair... some willing the death of the Lady when some to get the mysterious Moondar (an apparently very poweful spell-gem with phasing propreties...). We just want to read the rest as most of the plots are still in development at the end of the book, but sadly for us, it seems there won't be any following.
You can find some interesting indeep analysis (and also very criticizing ones on Greenwood's writings) of the different plots of the story on (Un)Timely Comics.

[left] Brief description of Waterdeep (The North - Guide to the Savage Frontier, TSR1142 module box, 1996)
[right] Location of Great House Roaringhorn and its description (City of Splendors TSR1109 module box, 1994)

Also note that this story will be compiled in IDW's Forgotten Realms Omnibus along with Neverwinter Tales and Cutter.



D&D comics history part 29 - The Legend of Drizzt - Neverwinter Tales (IDW)

   In 2011, along with the publishing of their ongoing series, IDW will start releasing omnibus of the classic D&D comics by DC from the 80's and the main series of DDP, including The Legend of Drizzt. But, when we could have hoped for the missing Menzoberranzan chapter of Starless Night (8th book of the Legend which comics adaptation felt into limbos due to DDP's financial crisis), IDW offered their readers a story of the über-known Drizzt Do'Urden that takes place between "Gauntlgrym" and "Neverwinter", first and second novels of the Neverwinter Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore, respectively 23th and 24th ones in Drizzt's saga.

Released in 5 issues, and available in HC as well as in TPB, it will be published under the title :

The Legend of Drizzt : Neverwinter Tales

   This original story has been written by R.A. Salvatore and his son Geno, art by Agustin Padilla, coloring by Leonard O'Grady and lettering by Chris Mowry and Neil Uyetake.

   It's an interesting side-story to the novels, well written and sustained with nice and pleasant graphic. We're following Drizzt and his companion Dahlia hunting for some creature, part dwarf battlerager and part vampire that will turn out to be their former brother in arms, Pwent. This last one had been biten by the vampire Korbin Dor'crae (whose been turned into a ghost by the evil ich Valindra Shadowmantle) during his fight against Drizzt's party. And despite the mental assault Pwent suffers from the ghosty vampire, he is not yet decided to drink innocent blood at all...
   So, yeah, fun tale on many aspects especially for those who read the novels.

   Note that the first issue has been also edited in module version, containing a playable adventure.

Module issue cover and adventure page sample

   In France, Milady released this comic in HC version in 2013, slightly different from the IDW one as it's missing the RPG materials but in the meanting including all the covers of the single issues when IDW's was only showing a few. (As well Milady's HC has been published in the original comic size when IDW's is in a larger format). Translation by Philippe Touboul and lettering by Cédric Lestiennes.

   Also note that this story will be compiled in IDW's Forgotten Realms Omnibus along with Forgotten Realms and Cutter.



D&D comics history part 27 - Dungeons & Dragons : Fell's Five (IDW)

And here came a neeeeew challeeeengeeeer ! XD

   After the financial crash of DDP, in 2010, IDW comics is given the right to issue D&D licensed materials. Their first publication is "number 0" comic that introduce both upcoming series, one ongoing based on D&D world and a Dark Sun-based 5-issues limited one.

The ongoing series will count a total of 16 issues (#0-15) and will be named :

Dungeons & Dragons - Fell's Five

Omnibus cover

 HC covers

   There's lots to say about this series.
First of all, it's obvious that IDW has a great experience in sale management. With this issue #0, they produced an introduction to a serie, kinda like a trailer, putting in place their pre-order business, but also they developped it as a product to create exclusive collectionable items. The fact is, like other comics publisher, they offered mutiple-covers issues. With this #0, to my knowledge, we're up to a total of 7 variants ! o_O

From left to right: Cover A, B, RI (Retailer Incentive), RE (Retailer Exclusive - Hastings),
Con Exclusive (GEN CON), Con Exclusive (PAX 2010), Con Exclusive (Convention 2010 Edition)
   After this promotional move, if we could have expected only A & B covers for issue#1, at contrary, IDW will continue and improve their concept by adding to rarity variants, RPG materials issues... o_O

From left to right : Cover A, B, RE (Hastings), RE (Larry's Limited Edition), SP-1 (Module Edition) 

   The upcoming republication by IDW of late eighties DC's AD&D series, in which we could read a few pages here and there dedicated to RPG, may be an explanation to the origins of this concept. It's obvious that IDW was showing a real determination to provide its readers a new but also old-school experience.

   When all variants of issue #1 contain the character sheet of the main hero, only the module edition is enriched with 6 pages of the role-playing adventure based on the story told in the issue.

Only 3 issues of the series have their module edition :
SP-1 Bad Day, SP-2 Hide in Plain Sight & SP-11 It goes Horribly Right
We could have expected more, in terms of module-issues but also in contents. These playing adventures include descriptions text with some basic area maps and monsters/characters stats... which is mainly raw materials dedicated to dungeon masters. But well, better that than nothing heh ! :)

   In addition to these variants, a single issue containing the covers done by Wayne Reynolds will be edited.

   The whole serie will be compiled in HC then in TPB (3 volumes each) and finally in a 49$ HC omnibus of 424 pages containing all the issues as well as extra (RPG parts) found in module editions but also an art gallery with all the variant covers.

   The first TPB has been published in France, in august 2011, by Milady under the name : 1. Le Fleau des Ombres. The rest will never be edited, sadly.

   Considering the story and the art, I have just to say that it's been a delightful surprise. First of all, we're not into some (re)adaptation of a D&D best selling novel... and if DDP did some great stuff there, it was time to get some new stuff to read. IDW successed here, and that has to be said.

   The main artist is Andrea Di Vito and his work is just of really good quality. His characters are well-drawn, having understandable and credible expressions. The movements as well as the choice of the shots and the pages construction are totally fitting the needs of the action.

   For the story, we have writer John Rogers in charge. It's been ages since I've last laughed reading a D&D inspired comic... and his story as well as his characters just made it. We're following the adventures of a bunch of sympathic (but somehow powerful) losers... an amusing (almost) antiheroes band. I am pretty fond of Bree, the rogue... who's just the perfect definition of a lovely lil smart & sarcastic bastard. <3

   Well, in conclusion, I'd say that, with this series,  IDW did manage to successfully renew the D&D comics line. When DDP was more into "serious" fantasy, the most often illustrating stories from the official D&D novels (which are for the most written in classic fantasy style), IDW regenerated the funny D&D universe. (once more the parallel with the DC series is really tempting). If I could dare some weird references comparisons, DDP succeded in Tolkien-inspired D&D adaptation when IDW did it on Willow-inspired one. And for the oldschool D&D players that loved to spend nights around a table with friends, for whom the success of an adventure was far more into the fun they got than the XP on their character sheet, this is totally in the spirit.