Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pathfinder #1

Writer: Jim Zubkavich
Artist: Andrew Huerta
Company: Dynamite Entertainment

For those missing the slice and dice, humor infused panels of a John Rogers written Dungeons and Dragons comic, your quest for entertainment has ended. Jim Zubkavich, the man behind the zany, fun, and adventure fueled antics of a dwarf and a bald guy in the pages of Skullkickers, takes the lead of this bad boy and blazes a trail that leads to blood and fire and the occasional verbal sparring session. For those not in the know, Pathfinder is essentially the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game, rolled back from it's 4th Edition rules to what is often referred to as 3.75. It's widely popular and well supported. Really, a great property. Making it into a comic only makes sense.

But is it a good comic? Yes, yes it is. It isn't without it's problems, of course, but before we get into that, let's take a look at what positive things that this first issue brings to the table.

First and foremost, the way that Zubkavich is able to introduce so much information, everything from a huge setting filled with monsters and other assorted bits of mayhem, to a sizable cast of main characters that all have discernible characteristics, all of it is a huge boon to the story. Nothing feels shunted off to the side or taken for granted. The exploration of the characters and their personalities is one of the best things in this first issue.

It's also a fairly big deal that he is able to capture the feel of a roleplaying session. The idea of a band of adventurers barreling into a situation, this time fighting a band of nasty goblins, and then falling down the rabbit hole into a much bigger adventure, is a time honored tradition in the land of gaming. It shouldn't be surprising, considering what Zubkavich has done with Skullkickers, but the little nods and story beats that the dedicated gamer is going to pick up on adds yet another layer. Now, I will state that even if you've never sat at a table and rolled a few 20 sided dice, you'll find something to like with this book. Zubkavich is known for his humor and he constantly delivers in that regard. The tone is slightly darker than the Saturday Morning Cartoon antics of his other title, but it never strays too far from the land of humor, and really, there are several laugh out loud jokes and moments to be found.

One of the other things that really makes this first issue stand out, is the material that has been collected at the the back of the issue. My younger self would have gone nuts to receive a comic that not only had a fun story to digest, but also included character sheets for every character that appears, an encounter, and write-ups about the city that the characters find themselves in. It's a brilliant cross promotion, and it actually enhances the story a bit.

Then there is the art. For the most part, the art is decent and works for what is happening on the page. Huerta's style, which is rough and scratchy, feels very Humberto Ramos inspired. It adds a nice sense of energy to the many action sequences that occur throughout the issue. There are a few panels during the fights where things get a little tough to follow, but nothing too detrimental. Where things do slide is with the sometimes overdone facial expressions. They're not completely out of the ordinary, but there were a few instances where things had a overdone appearance. I understand the need to add character to the cast, but it felt a little strange for the story. The other, maybe more notable thing, are the digital colors. The colors all feel very muted and bland, and the inks beneath them, while not lost completely, definitely lose their biting edge.

The mystery and the characters that Zubkavich is building are definitely things that have me interested. All in all, Pathfinder #1 is a nice little package of goodness, wrapped up in the blistery, warped skin of a nasty goblin. Can you really ask for more than that?

1 comment:

  1. I will of course check this one out, but I'm not sure if it will hit the right buttons for me. I bought the first trade, at least I think it was the first, of Skullkickers and I wasn't able to get though it, the humor just fell flat for me. Also I'm one of those weirdo's who enjoyed the recent Dark Sun comic much better than the recent D&D one. I just felt it captured the feel of Dark Sun, more than the D&D book did capturing D&D.