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Dragonlance: Chronicles #8 [Review]

Quick Rating: Above Average
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

The Companions battle Verminaard and his minions in Pax Tharkas with many lives hanging in the balance…

dragonlancechronicles008Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Steve Kurth
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is the final issue of this particular Dragonlance mini-series, and as such, things can be generalized a bit more than in previous issues.

The art has maintained a pretty solid level of quality–though I’m not sure we’ve had the same artist for the entire series. We do have Kurth on art chores for this issue, which is a plus, regardless of previous issues. Kurth‘s art is definitely a departure from a lot of the "classic" Dragonlance art from the 1980s, and even a lot of what I recall from the 90s. And while it may not be definitive, exactly, it very certainly fits these characters and the story. It’s not perfect (what art is, though?) but one gets a sense that these are (physically) 3-dimensional characters interacting with each other. There’s a certain creepiness here that captures the dark nature of this part of the story–and it works well. Where it fails is in some of the details of the story, as it’s not always clear from the visuals exactly what’s going on panel-to-panel.

The story itself comes across as very choppy. Perhaps I’m too biased, having read the original Dragons of Autumn Twilight as many times as I have in the last decade. This issue feels like an extremely abridged retelling of that story, as if it has certain points that it hits on, but lacks the detail of the original–and as such, comes across choppy.

I felt like I had to keep thinking back to the book to fully "get" what was going on with these characters. While the art gives a sense that these could be real, 3-dimensional beings, the story comes off as shallow and 2-dimensional. The blame for this is shared, and it should be noted that the novel this mini is adapted from is itself possibly the weakest of the Weis/Hickman Dragonlance Chronicles volumes.

The story caps off the first volume of the trilogy as the companions battle Verminaard in Pax Tharkas, while a couple dragons tear it up in the background, and Verminaard’s slaves reunite with their families as they prepare to take their leave of the fortress–provided anyone survives the battle.

I suspect that the story on the whole comes across better if read as a whole–reading an adaptation in eight segments separated by several weeks likely takes away from the overall experience. Given that, I don’t recommend this single issue unless you have already been following the mini. However, in a few weeks when the collected volume (advertised adjacent to the final story-page in this issue) is released, consider checking it out.

On the whole, this series has been a solid jump-on point for anyone interested in the "classic" Dragonlance saga. It introduces the core/original characters, generally conveys some key aspects about them, and the art particularly gives a visual interpretation of the characters that is much more realistic and believable than earlier visual renditions.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Dragonlance: Chronicles #6 [Review]

Quick Rating: Solid
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (chapter 6)

Having been freed by elves from captivity, the companions find themselves witness to the decline of the Qualinesti elves; they also find their next quest in their journey toward saving the world of Krynn…

dragonlancechronicles006Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Stefano Raffaele
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Steve Seeley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is another good/standard issue of the series. It has been thankfully consistent–the story and art continue to work well together, to provide a true adaptation to the original novel (Dragons of Autumn Twilight). Perhaps in contradiction to that, this issue features art by someone other than Kurth. While a side-by-side comparison will undoubtedly reveal difference, taken by itself it works well here. In light of a certain other publisher often combining artists of late on a single issue, that the entirety of this issue is just one is refreshing.

This issue takes the story up with the companions having just been freed from Fewmaster Toede’s slave-train. Their elven rescuers lead them into Qualinost (one of the Elven homelands, but not the original Elven homeland–but that issue doesn’t rear its head til later and isn’t overly relevant here). Once in Qualinost, we view some of the past come back to haunt Tanis, and get to see Tasselhoff marvel at what must’ve been (in his eyes) quite the childhood for the half-elf. The companions then take on a task from the Speaker of the Sun and head for Pax Tharkas.

The story itself is faithful at its heart if not word-for-word to the source material. The only real gripe I have on that angle with this issue is that here we see Tanis deliberately acquire a particular sword, whereas the original novel had him fumble for a weapon, and belatedly realize what he’d acquired, which added a bit more wonder to the weapon as well as what the companions face. Ultimately it is a minor detail, one that works well in prose format, but like a movie, not every minute detail can be adapted, and it’s better that detail is cut than something more integral to the story.

This is a fantasy comic/story, and based on what Hickman himself considers the weakest of these original novels. As such, you will find aspects of the familiar here. The creature the companions face seems drastically out of place given the sort of story here (I can think of no other examples of such a creature encountered anywhere else in the Dragonlance mythos–if anyone else can, I’d be interested in having that noted). However, from a story that was based strongly on a new Dungeons & Dragons module at the time, such a creature is just another generic sort that gives an excuse for a fight. In this story, it serves to introduce a new aspect to a just-met character that will serve a much larger role later in the Chronicles saga, if not this specific arc.

We’re six issues in, and have covered a lot of ground. As I understand it, we’ve two chapters left to conclude this mini/arc. If you’ve not followed along thus far, this won’t be a particularly good point to jump in. If you’re following it, though, don’t bail now!

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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