Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dragon Age Vol. 1

            Let’s talk about comics.  Comics are comprised of two things: the art and the writing.  That’s it.  This means that, if one of them is horrendously bad, that’s 50% of the book that’s bad right there.  And I don’t know of a book where the bad art has managed to completely overtake anything good about the story like Dragon Age.
            The story takes place in the same universe as the games, but features none of the characters you’ve grown to love.  A templar falls in love with a mage in the Circle Tower and ends up having a child with her, which is bad since templars are supposed to be oppressing the mages.  So the mage runs away and gives birth outside the tower, which leads to her daughter being adopted by a blacksmith.  And then 17 years later…stuff happens.  This is one of those cases of something I nodded along with at the time, but thinking back on it, it’s really a series of random events.  Bandits kill the blacksmith, a dwarf comes to the rescue, various random people help the main character develop her magic powers.  It’s like the writer was saying “This has to happen next because I say so”.  And I would be fine with this as an amateur book, but one of the writers is Orson Scott Card.  Yes, THAT Orson Scott Card.  I’ve read Ender’s Game, I know he can do better.  And ultimately, what happens in this book seems like it’s just setting up events for later.  This is the exposition and the backstory, but it’s not fun to read.
            And, as I mentioned before, it’s not fun to look at.  To start with, Mark Robinson’s art isn’t a good match for Dragon Age, period.  I feel like I should be reading an Avatar: The Last Airbender comic.  The characters are all drawn in a very cartoony, anime-ish way.  Never mind that this doesn’t fit Dragon Age, period, but the book’s simply too serious for it.  At one point the main character is crying and it just looks ridiculous.  And when it’s not just inappropriate, it’s often confusing.  At one point I thought a battle was still going on simply because the art didn’t give a good indication that it was over.  I read two panels and thought I had somehow missed something because there was a gap between the actions.  And any characters outside the main cast just look generic.  That’s fine for a game, but this is a comic.  You can do better.
            The collected edition’s only special feature is a cover gallery (the digital version, at least, already has all the covers in place, making this redundant) and some random sketches.  It’s a start-to-finish disappointment that I couldn’t recommend to Dragon Age newbies or fans.  Stick to the games.

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