Writer: Jim Zub
Art: Max Dunbar
Colors: Sebastian Cheng
Lettering: Neil Uyetake
Covers By: Max Dunbar (Super-special Nerys Character Sheet cover assisted by Jim Zub!)
Available: Wednesday, February 12
Back for round two of the Infernal Tides storyline from IDW next week are Minsc, Boo and company, set to page by the capable hands of Jim Zub, Max Dunbar, Sebastian Cheng and Neil Uyetake. And frankly, as enjoyable as the first one was, this one’s even better…
Having discovered a demonic puzzle box new-found friend Aubree’s father and paladin of Torm Alistair Lucent was kidnapped trying to protect, the crew travels to Candlekeep, great fortress-library of the Sword Coast. Their quest? To meet with the sage Sylvira Savikas and hopefully find some answers as to why the denizens of Hell so badly want the box, and perhaps where they may have taken Alistair.
Well, there’s several. First, Minsc, Kryndle and Shandie are not exactly…bookish. Minsc’s big plan, when the party meets with bureaucratic resistance, is to set a fire—in the largest library on all of Faerun—in order to cause a distraction. So that they can meet with…one of the librarians.
Worse than that, our band of merry heroes have been infiltrated by—
You didn’t seriously think I was gonna give it away, did you? Come on now.
Anyway, without any further spoilage, I will simply state this: by book’s end, it will become clear (having now read the entire history of Minsc, Boo and company’s travels through Baldur’s Gate and related realms) that Boo might actually be the miniature giant space hamster Minsc says he is, and that that ranger seriously needs a helm of anti-teleportation.
These books are so much fun. As I read them, I can’t help but imagine my own gaggle of gamers, role-playing more or less exactly the way Delina, Nerys, et al are portrayed throughout the book. I have to figure Jim Zub is having a blast writing them—and he continues to be the perfect scribe for their adventures. A gamer nearly from birth himself, he “gets it”: as he did with Skullkickers and the previous D&D arcs before this (but this is definitely the best among that line), he deftly blends sharp wit with compelling story and interesting characters, juxtaposing slapstick humor, sarcasm and the occasional apocalypse with complete aplomb. The guy’s a genius of a storyteller, in his most comfortable element. I would gladly surrender one of my lesser-used appendages to have him run a session or two at our Table sometime. Or maybe a kidney.
And the art? Oh my gawd, the art!
In his press releases, Zub never fails to heap high praise on his artist and colorist, Max Dunbar and Sebastian Cheng. Frankly, if anything he’s underselling them. Dunbar is absolutely at the top of his game. Or at least, I keep thinking that, and then he does something even better. Suffice to say that Dunbar’s game is really, really good. There isn’t a panel in this book (or the first) that isn’t a thing of beauty. Every character, every monster, every book in Candlekeep (and how cool is that as a nod back to the original Baldur’s Gate line? 15-y/o Andy about peed himself!) are perfect, in form, function and color. The action is so fluid and true, the settings so completely rendered.
I’d mentioned in reviewing 7 Deadly Sins last week (found here) how often-unnoticed the color work is in comics, despite its importance; you cannot miss Cheng’s work. Just look at the image above: how rich, how well-lighted and well-differentiated such a complex panel is. We are seeing two artists blossoming in their prime: appreciate it while you’ve got the chance. Really—absolutely stunning work. If you haven’t, give Dunbar and Cheng a follow on Twitter (@Max_Dunbar and @SebastianArtist); the work they post daily is just a treasure to behold.
And all that’s to say nothing of the lettering job by Neil Uyetake. In keeping with everything else in this series, his work is top-notch. Not a balloon out of place, a word awkwardly drawn. And his integration of sound effects into Dunbar’s artwork is perfect—suited to the character, the item/function producing the sound. An ideal accompaniment to the tone and visual flow of the book.
So, yup—these guys nailed it. Hit it out of the park. CRUSHED IT. Good gravy, I can’t wait until issue three. And to think: there’s three freakin’ more of these things!!! This is a good time to be a comic-addicted tabletop gamer, people. Enjoy this.
I’d mentioned in my review of issue one (click here if you missed it and want to right that wrong), that IDW could very easily have gone low-brow and cheap on this and the other D&D books, and I don’t know that anyone would have complained. Meant to be a tag-along piece in support of Wizards of the Coast’s Decent Into Avernus campaign tome, they could’ve saved a pile of cash by going with a lesser-known (or fer cripe’s sake, a lesser-busy) writer and art team, and probably sold a goodly amount of books, spread a decent amount of talk about Avernus.
That they didn’t—that they continue to employ some of the most brilliant fantasy writers and artists active today—is a real testament to the company. Instead, we get a beyond-premium book that I’m proud to add to my collection, and will definitely be committing the heresy of taking back out of its bag to read again. Good on you, IDW, and thanks!
So, same deal as last time: get yer booty to a comic shop (or Amazon, or Comixology) and get to ordering. You can thank me later.
And yeah, I probably won’t actually be committing aforementioned heresy (Paul can attest to the near-clinical level of my OCD when it comes to my comics), and will in fact be purchasing the full trade for reading purposes. So sue me.
Review by Andy Patch, thePullbox.com