At The Spine of The World #3
Writer: Aimee Garcia and AJ Mendez
Artists: Martin Coccolo and Katrina Mae Hao
Letterer: Niel Uyetake
As a Dungeon Master for the newest hardcover adventure released by Dungeons and Dragons, I was eager to dive into this comic. While I have a personal interest in the setting of this comic, it proves itself a solid story with enjoyable characters regardless of your interest in D&D.
Anyone who has dipped their nose into a Forgotten Realms novel will have heard of The Spine of The World. A stretched and vast mountain range in the north of this beloved fantasy world, The Spine is desolate. It is filled with frontier works. Trackers, trappers, miners, and of course, adventurers. This story has a bit of everything. Consistent nods to the TTRPG we all love, but also tension, some humorous dialogue, and a primordial evil. This issue brings enough to the table (cough cough) to feel fresh and new while taking place in a setting that has been thoroughly explored.
Like any good D&D session, what stands out the most is the characters. There’s the hot-headed rogue turned protector, the bruiser barbarian, the kind and understanding ranger, the conniving warlock, and the innocent druid. Players of D&D will see a variety of playable magical races represented here, which makes the world feel immersive.
While much of the dialogue is quite quippy and light-hearted, it made me feel like I was almost in a D&D session. At the root of D&D, and this comic, is a lightness, something fun, a reminder of stories anyone can be a part of. Anything can tell. D&D is a game where funny stuff happens. The monsters and adventures are just a bonus.
Simply put, I think the art in this issue is great. The paneling is well down, the overlays work well to break panels, and everything seems to flow. The art that I took special pleasure in, as well, is some of the action scenes. In one particular sequence, one character tries to kick another with a flying kick. Coccolo should be commended on their use of speed lines. The next panel captures the attacked character blocking, the kick still in motion, but the foot now motionless. In the next instant, the attacked has grabbed the foot of the attacker out of the air. It seems simple, trivial, for a fight scene, perhaps, but it slows time down, lets readers really see how the fight progresses. I wish more artists did sequences like this in action scenes.
The colors are on par with any other D&D comic as well–which is to say, well done. Shadows shift, and the varied environments feel realized and unique. There’s little ambiguity (if any) when it comes to the settings, and the color pallet provides for an array of complementing hues that even feel to have that sheen of light when snow is on the ground.
I could overlook the lettering in this comic due to the fact that it flows well. Speech balloons don’t obscure panels and images. Tales are never ambiguous. And except for a couple of long-winded explanations, most of the dialogue moves at a tight clip. The script is easy to read and doesn’t try to do anything out of the ordinary. Simply put, the letters are solid, like this whole comic.
At The Spine of The World #3
A fun adventure, any fantasy or D&D fan will enjoy.