Review: Pathfinder #8, TMNT New Animated Adventures #1

Pathfinder #8

Cover PfinderThere are three ways a comic can turn out when it’s based on a fantasy RPG like Pathfinder (a better example would be the Dungeons & Dragons material from IDW): (1) utterly crap, (2) epic like Tolkien, or (3) sound like a real group playing the RPG, narrating characters, and having fun. Pathfinder #8 is the last of those three—whew, no crap here, but definitely some fun and good art!

Writer Jim Zub populates the comic with characters of competing intentions but one ultimate goal, including the brash fighter, knowledge seeking wizard, cautious rogue, headstrong (and ugly) dwarf, and provides comic relief as any good DM would in the form of a goblin named Hurble. As a side note, the characters used herein are the example characters from Pathfinder player guide. It truly is a real life adventuring party slapped onto the comic book page.

The script of the battle sequences sounds like a group of gamers trying to figure out how to fight the bad guys, discussing which weapons work and which spells fail against the undead enemies. This type of writing is a feat, while not necessarily complex in composition, the style requires awareness of how to play RPGs, and Pathfinder in particular, meaning that Zub is a master of two crafts. In my opinion, this style makes the comic all the better, especially since I’ve played Pathfinder and other TRPGs and can appreciate the quickness with which these adventurers complete their task.

Jake Bilbao provides great illustration which takes the fun, rambunctiousness of the script into the realm of epic adventures, lending the quality of Pathfinder illustrations from the guides to this comic. Bilbao is new to me, but his detailed pencil work is well-suited to the mystical landscape of Varisia, and I can only hope to see his work elsewhere (he’d sure improve IDW’s Forgotten Realms comics, I must admit, despite the fact that I adore Forgotten Realms and am not a great fan of the Pathfinder rules).

This really is a comic that caters to the Pathfinder players, but it is not a closed book to those uninitiated. Rather, it’s like watching the new Star Trek movie and getting all the references because you know the original shows, versus watching the same movie and still finding it enjoyable. It’s a stepping stone to the game. And, if you’re a Pathfinder yourself, you might find that stats and history of the dragon Scarhorn in the back-up a useful addition to any campaign.

Pathfinder is probably the best book on Dynamite Entertainment’s roster, a breath of fresh air after books like Dejah Thoris and Warlord of Mars, which have long disappointed me (though I’m truly looking forward to Simone’s Red Sonja).

Story: Jim Zub  Art: Jake Bilbao
Story: 7  Art: 8  Overall: 8  Recommendation: Read

TMNT New Animated Adventures #1

Kenny Byerly presents this new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series from TMNT-New-Animated-01_Cover-RegularIDW Publishing, TMNT New Animated Adventures #1, illustrated by Dario Brizuela, a short standalone adventure. I’ve never read or watched any TMNT but I felt right at home!

Byerly writes a fun, playful TMNT story about breaking into a military complex to steal some junk, and April is the focus of the story. It’s well-paced, moves swiftly and never gets boring. It’s a fast-paced fun adventure that could easily be a lot of great fun on TV but still plays out well in the comics medium.

The art by Brizuela is complex and shows the pen of a detail and accomplished artist, and only looks like the children’s cartoony ‘animated’ adventure it’s meant to be because of the figure shapes of characters. Brizuela has done work on a number of animated adventures books, and shows his real mettle in TMNT New Animated Adventures #1. All things considered, the art in this book is a cross between Kim Possible and classic Spider-Man, but it’s not something I can really jive to.

I’m not a TMNT fan, so it’d be unfair for me to judge the comic harshly, but overall I thought it was a fun adventure, something that fans of the ‘animated’ comics or TMNT would have a good time reading. Also, I think this is a good bridge comic for getting kids into comics, so it has to be applauded for that effort. Just as DC and Marvel are reaching out with these ‘kids’ comics, it seems IDW has jumped on the bandwagon—a smart and successful move.

Story: Kenny Byerly  Art: Dario Brizuela
Story: 6.5  Art: 7  Overall: 7  Recommendation: Read

Dynamite and IDW provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review