Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate

Published: May 27th, 2015
Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Max Dunbar, Sarah Stone
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR

IDW Publishing, 130 Pages

Review:

This is the first modern Dungeons & Dragons comic that I’ve read that didn’t feature Drizzt Do’Urden. Apart from those stories, which I have already reviewed, this is the first D&D comic I’ve picked up since some of the classic issues from my childhood.

The main reason for me checking out this one before some of the others was due to it being written by Jim Zub. I like Zub’s writing, especially in regards to fantasy and sword and sorcery type tales.

So I wasn’t disappointed and I liked this quite a bit.

Mostly, I really liked these characters and the bond they develop over this story, as they form a team of heroes that has to stop an evil sorcerer from doing evil sorcerer things.

After finishing this, I hoped there would be more comic stories with these characters. I’m not 100 percent sure if there are but I’ll seek them out if they exist.

Zub brought his A-game, here, and I love how he creates a real sense of camaraderie between his characters. He also writes in a way where you can tell he enjoys his work and crafting stories in these sort of settings. Frankly, it’s kind of infectious and with that, makes you want to keep supporting the guy.

Anyway, this was a pretty fun and cool read. It left me wanting more and that’s what a comic book story should do.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, as well as fantasy adventure comics written by Jim Zub.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 6: The Halfling’s Gem

Published: May 3rd, 2017
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 135 Pages

Review:

So I have arrived at the final chapter of the six Drizzt Do’Urden trade paperbacks. The series started out a bit murky but picked up steam with the third volume and then got really great by the fourth. The fifth was damn enjoyable and this one was also pretty cool, even if it wasn’t as good as the two chapters before it.

Still, this was a good, fitting conclusion to the series, even though it does leave things open for more. In fact, I know that there was another one-off Drizzt Do’Urden trade paperback that was released after these six original stories.

For readers who have stuck around this long, this is a pretty worthwhile tale.

It starts with the team of heroes we’ve grown to love being separated. However, over the course of the story, they find one another and come to realize that they’re sort of a family. Ultimately, they have to fight once again in an effort to save themselves and vanquish evil. Sure, that may sound fairly generic in the realm of a Dungeons & Dragons story but with characters this cool and this complex, you don’t really care too much about it feeling like it’s leaning hard into certain tropes of the genre.

The story moves at a good pace, it has a lot of subplots that are well-balanced but converge in a satisfying way and it leaves you with a pretty good ending, overall.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 5: Streams of Silver

Published: October 12th, 2016
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Val Semeiks, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 136 Pages

Review:

The fifth of the six Drizzt Do’Urden comic books stories picks up where the fourth one left off. If you read my review for that one, you already know how much I liked it, after starting to lose a bit of faith in this series after the first three entries.

I had high hopes for this series before starting due to how popular the character of Drizzt Do’Urden is and because I’ve heard great things about his literary stories.

While I didn’t like this one as much as the fourth, it’s still damn good and made me excited for the sixth and final installment.

In this one, we see Drizzt and his allies travel a great distance on a new adventure after having just survived a war in volume four. He has his enemies in hot pursuit and draws the ire of another baddie, who forces an alliance with the evil man trying to hunt Drizzt down.

So the villains form a group to rival Drizzt and his allies and the stakes and danger are pretty high. I like that this had an unstoppable golem in it, which had to be outsmarted and taken out of the picture because you can’t actually kill it.

This story ends badly and not every hero comes away unscathed. Drizzt loses allies and it sets up what should be a worthwhile and heavy-hitting finale.

Shit, I got this far and didn’t even talk about the heroes having to fight a big ass dragon that’s hoarding treasure.

There’s just a lot of cool stuff in this volume and there isn’t a single page that’s a bore.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: ROM vs. Transformers: Shining Armor

Published: March 14th, 2018
Written by: John Barber, Christos N. Gage
Art by: Alex Milne
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro; ROM the Spaceknight by Bing McCoy, Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema

IDW Publishing, 121 Pages

Review:

I liked occasionally reading ROM the Spaceknight comics when I was a kid. I was never a huge fan of the character, though, but I still thought he was kind of cool and I really liked the art in the original Marvel run.

It’s been decades since I’ve read ROM but since he’s made his way back into comics and Hasbro wants to make a crossover movie universe with ROM, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Micronauts and M.A.S.K., I figured I’d get reacquainted with him and his mythos.

So what better way is there to experience what Hasbro wants to do on a cinematic scale than experiencing it in the form of a crossover comic featuring both the ROM and Transformers franchises?

I thought the art here was pretty good too. And the story was decent but not great. I liked seeing these two properties merge, though, and they did it in a way that made sense for both universes.

This is also written like it was the first part of a planned crossover event that would’ve kept going. However, there doesn’t seem to be a proper follow-up to this tale.

This primarily follows a small group of Transformers characters that don’t include leaders like Optimus Prime or Megatron. This is basically a “first contact” sort of situation where these two universes meet for the first time and it seems like something much bigger should come out of it.

The leader of the Decepticons in this story is Starscream, where the Autobots have Ultra Magnus.

That being said, I thought that Ultra Magnus’ character was really off from his personality and it made me question if the writer really knew the source material. Since one of the writers is Christos Gage, I was more perplexed by this, as he’s done solid work with other Hasbro stories, previously.

Ultimately, this was an enjoyable read but some things left me scratching my head and because of that, this wasn’t as great as it could have been. And maybe that’s why there hasn’t been a sequel and also why Hasbro hasn’t really been able to get the crossover plans off the ground and into the mainstream like they had hoped.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other IDW Transformers and ROM comics.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 4: The Crystal Shard

Published: June 29th, 2016
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Val Semeiks, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 135 Pages

Review:

Finally! This is the Drizzt Do’Urden comic book story I had been waiting for! This one pretty much lives up to the hype I’ve heard about this character for years and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The story is my favorite in the comic book adaptations of R.A. Salvatore’s iconic novels, as it is really the first truly epic tale featuring the dark elf.

The main story in this surrounds a war between a network or small villages and a growing, tyrannical empire led by a wizard with a powerful crystal shard that gives him immense power and control of a powerful demon.

We also get to see the expansion of this universe, as new core characters are introduced and the politics of this part of the world take shape.

This obviously features Drizzt Do’Urden but it also gives the reader their first experience with another great Forgotten Realms character, the warrior Wulfgar. This also serves as his origin story, which was surprisingly good. In fact, I’d call it damn good.

The art also looks much better in this volume and this started to feel more like the better Conan comics, tonally and quality-wise, than something that looked overly indie. And I don’t mean that as a knock against indie comics, as obviously I’ve loved and reviewed many, but the art of the first three volumes was below the standard I felt these stories deserved.

This series was losing steam with me but now I am reinvigorated and pretty excited to read the final two volumes following this one. 

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Transformers ’84: Secrets and Lies

Published: March 3rd, 2021
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: Guido Guidi
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 130 Pages

Review:

I got a little hyped up when this series was first announced, as it was supposed to serve as a prequel to the original Transformers – Generation 1 comic book canon from the ’80s. I used to read those when Marvel was pumping them out and when Transformers was one of the hottest toy franchises of the time.

Sadly, I found this to be a bit underwhelming, as far as the story goes. Everything was told in flashback through narration like it was a distant legend. That’s fine and all but it didn’t need to do that and it kind of wasted time setting up the story each issue. Time that could’ve been used to tell a richer, deeper story in a more direct fashion.

The story itself was just okay and there wasn’t much in it that was surprising and all that interesting. It just read like a generic prologue where most of the events within it were fairly predictable. It’s not a bad story. it’s just not a very exciting or inspiring one.

Now I did dig the art. It was pretty much akin to what you would’ve seen in the old Marvel Transformers comics of the mid-’80s, even down to the color schemes of the characters, which differed from their cartoon and toy counterparts.

This was a fairly cool throwback but at the same time, if more Transformers stories were done in this style, I don’t think that I’d be quick to pick them up.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Transformers comics, as well as other comics based off of Hasbro toy lines.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 16: Chasing Phantoms

Published: May 10th, 2017
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 127 Pages

Review:

While I like that the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series is in new territory, by this point, and trying fresh things for the franchise, I also question whether or not it’s ran its course and is just running on fumes after the defeats of Shredder and Krang.

Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s sort of changed its tone and there are new villains but it’s starting to feel a lot less like the traditional TMNT I grew up with and more like it’s trying to figure out where to go, charting new, unknown territory even for original creator Kevin Eastman.

Splinter being in charge of the Foot Clan just seems damn odd, even if he’s trying to make them a force for good. He’s still doing things that seem really out of character and the Turtles, his sons, recognize this. It’s been going on for a few volumes in this series now and I’m kind of waiting to see if there’s a real reason for it that will somehow make sense in a big, stunning reveal.

The series is just in a place of uncertainty in regards to where it’s going and the core characters’ lives and direction. I still like it, I’m still invested but something has to happen and soon.

The art is still on par with the previous volumes and as the series rolls on, it gets a wee bit better even with each chapter.

As I said, I’m still enjoying this, sixteen volumes deep, but I really feel like something big needs to go down much sooner, rather than later.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 3: Sojourn

Published: January 13th, 2016
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 142 Pages

Review:

Each chapter in this series seems to get better. While this one wasn’t a well defined story collected into one volume, it introduced a few different plots and characters that helped greatly with the world building. I felt like I needed that having never read anything featuring Drizzt Do’Urden until I picked up this comic series.

This pretty much has the same art as the previous books and while it’s okay, it still feels like a step down from the level I’ve seen Tim Seeley work at before. It’s a bit basic and the colors aren’t superb but it’s fine for an indie comic about dark elves and monsters. There’s certainly much worse out there, even from publisher IDW.

This chapter is fairly action packed but it’s more about developing the character of Drizzt, as well as those he comes in contact with. Many of the characters in this have their preconceived biases against dark elves but Drizzt proves that he doesn’t quite fit the stereotype.

All in all, this isn’t great or all that memorable, but the series does feel as if it is improving and it gives me some hope for the final three volumes now that I’ve reached the mid-point.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 2: Exile

Published: August 19th, 2015
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 150 Pages

Review:

I thought that the first volume of this series was both fairly enjoyable but also pretty weak. This volume kicks things up a bit, as it moves on passed all the origin shit and gets Drizzt Do’Urden out into the world, where he has to survive without the help and protection of his own people, who are now hellbent on making him pay for his betrayal.

In this, Drizzt makes a friend and the two of them have to work together to survive the storm that’s coming. In the end, Drizzt has to basically fight a zombie version of his father, who trained him to be the warrior he is.

Beyond the story, the art is just okay.

I generally like Tim Seely’s work, as I loved the earliest Hack/Slash stuff a lot. However, when I see these Drizzt comics, it looks like he was either rushed by the publisher or he was stretched too thin over multiple projects and couldn’t give this series his full attention.

Overall, this is better than the previous installment but it’s also not living up to what I hoped this could be.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 15: Leatherhead

Published: October 5th, 2016
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 125 Pages

Review:

This chapter in the very long-running IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series was pretty damn good.

The series is in a new place after the defeat of Shredder and Krang in two different big battles. So it’s uncertain where this can go, as it has entered really new territory and sort of has a clean slate.

That being said, this was really entertaining and full of surprises.

By the title of this volume, you know that Leatherhead enters the series. He was always a cool concept for a character but I always thought that he was never properly executed in the good ol’ days. In this, though, he’s a dangerous, massive beast. He at first seems like an ally but there’s a very dark, pretty f’d up twist with his character.

In this chapter, we also see more of the female Foot Clan member Jennika, who is trying to redeem herself after existing in a dark cloud under Shredder’s command. Here, Master Splinter is essentially her Yoda: training her, helping her find peace, balance and self-respect.

Man, this was just a good piece of storytelling with great art that fans that have stuck around this long should expect.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.