Jun 1, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 97: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #3, February 1989

The thing that really struck me about this particular issue of the series is that it's in such good condition. Considering that it's been a part of my collection since the late eighties, it's worn its time in the boxes well. This is either a function of how well I take care of my comics, or how little I've actually read this series since it was published. Let's be honest and err on the side of the latter.

I've similar criticisms of this issue as I've had so far of the whole series. I get why Cybriana might have to cry "Magic Missile!" when casting the spell of the same name, but I never imagined that the verbal casting components of a magical spell involved simply shouting the name of the spell. I think I'm more a fan of the idea of making up linguistic-looking pictograms that represent the spell, rather than this name-dropping. I wonder if it'll peter out a bit as the series matures, though Fleisher leaves as writer after this arc, which unfortunately means that a new writer will have to familiarize him- or herself with the characters and the world.

I'm on the fence so far with regard to Jan Duursema's artwork. Sometimes it's quite lovely, other times remarkably awkward. Interestingly, I've got him doing very little superhero work in my collection, the only other major presences being the DC sorcery title Arion, and the Star Wars Episode II adaptation. I'm not sure what it is. His facial close-ups are sometimes really lovely (mostly with Cybriana), and then sometimes really heavy-handed. What occurs to me is that it's not simply a writer who needs to get used to working with characters, but artists too. In television shows it's often obvious in a first season that the writers are still trying to sort out characters and motivations, no more or less so that the actors are attempting the same thing. In comics, the artist is all of the actors, and as such must figure out mannerisms, important visual features, and even something so simple as size differentiations not only for the character he or she plays, as with an actor, but with all the characters. Duursema is the regular artist on the whole run of this title, so hopefully the art will become more consistent as he familiarizes himself with the characters and the world within which they live.

This issue's most interesting feature is the back story we receive about Imgig Zu (the bad guy), and his interactions with Selune, goddess of the Moon. There's a couple of action scenes that are a bit bland compared to the battles in the last couple of issues, but I think this is the issue where we get a real understanding of what's going on. Cybriana fills in for us her odd backstory (she has a twin, a Drow, who was actually an evil growth on her body that appeared when she was born and was cast out by mages and is now working with Imgig Zu....I think), and is promptly kidnapped (again). Fleisher seems to be also developing future stories for subsequent writers with the introduction of Connor and a small child who don't seem to have much to do with the quest of our focal adventurers. I know they start to play a larger role in the next arc, but can't quite remember what it is.

We'll get there eventually, I guess. See you tomorrow.

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