It was in 1998 I was first truly introduced to D&D. Growing up, I watched the (rather terrible) D&D cartoon until my mother was told that it was Satanic and I would grow up to practice the occult or some such nonsense. My friend had just got this revolutionary isometric RPG named Baldur's Gate and let me pirate it off him. The lands of Faerun, the Sword Coast, the Spine of the World opened up to me. I grew to love characters like Minsc and Boo. When I wasn't playing Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale, I was reading RA Salvatore or Ed Greenwood and learning how to pen and paper from a second hand AD&D manual. I was hooked. 19 years later I have surrounded myself in table top gaming and have somehow made a career of it. My life, as it stands now, has been shaped in part by Black Isle Studios and Bioware's little D&D project.
But this is a review about a comic, not some self-indulgent reverie, and the third series from the Legends of Baldur's Gate adventuring troupe has allot to live up to. The group consists of: Krydle (half-elf, part noble, all thief and fighter), Shandie (halfling, rogue, and best friend to Krydle), Delina (moon-elf, wild-magic sorceress, and reason for Minsc to be around), Minsc (The Beloved Human Ranger, Smasher of Evil), and Boo (Miniature Giant Space Hamster, Minsc's animal companion. After their defeat at the hands of a Vampire in Ravenloft (a most epic of campaign settings) the group picked up a fifth companion, Nerys a cleric of Kelemvor, the god of death. Delina's magic whisked them away to the "Spine of the World," the great mountain range also known as "The Wall." They are hungry, need shelter, and Nerys appears to be on the verge of death.
Fortunately, Delina falls into cave that had been covered by a snow drift. The party soon sets up camp while the reality of their current situation begins to set in. Nerys will probably die soon, which is preferable to starving to death, and Minsc is in a somber mood. He never likes defeat and becomes is agitated that they "RAN LIKE TERRIFIED GOPHERS WITHOUT A HOLE."
They don't have much time to rest however, some ogres saw their fire while returning with a freshly killed deer. The tired, and battered brigade must now fight for their lives. A single ogre is a tough challenge for even seasoned adventures, but four is almost an impossibility. Minsc gets tossed into a few snow banks, Delina gets a few broken ribs, and the rest of the group seem outmatched. Thankfully the tide turns upon the arrival of a dragonborn scout named Saarvin.
He quickly fills the ogres with arrows and saves the band of adventurers. He see's the condition they are in, and offers to lead them to the nearest town of Fireshear where they can find rest and healing for their comrade. However, upon the Trackless Sea, a Frost Giant ship has set it's course for the same town with what appears to be a chained dragon in tow.
The narrative Jim Zub has crafted with these heroes is nothing short of brilliant. It's compelling, fast paced, and keeps the reader hungry for more. The dialog is where his writing truly shines. D&D is is meant to be fun, and if you are putting words in Minsc's mouth it better be hilarious. We get gems like: "Don't move, your body is a punctuated pillow of pain" and "Truly I am a pitiful worm unworthy of my former glory." It's just... so... perfect.
Not only is the story and dialog top notch, but the artwork is just as great! I mean, have you seen those panels above? They aren't even close to the best ones! Netho Diaz has gift for displaying fantasy and (which might be why he worked on Aquaman before too). Truly remarkable.
I am so happy to have these heroes back in the comics. This book is great read even if you hadn't read the previous series... but you should read them because they are great. Young and old adventures should pick up this brilliant comic book.