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Warcraft: Legends Vol. #01 Manga Review

3 min read
This first volume of Warcraft Legends is uneven at times

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Various

What They Say
Presents a collection of short stories set in the Warcraft universe.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Warcraft fans coming fresh off of the Sunwell Trilogy books will find Warcraft Legends a somewhat different experience. Instead of the usual ongoing story of most graphic novels, this series focuses on short and self-contained episodes, with all of the advantages and disadvantages which that form of storytelling affords. In other words, not everyone will like every story, and opinions on which story is the best in the book will vary a great deal.

The first story in the book almost led me to think the book was actually going the other way; it is the most like a chapter pulled from an ongoing story. And in fact that’s just what it is – the story will continue in the next volume. It is very short, just over 20 pages, and gives itself very little time to really do anything. Its one strength is in a good moody atmosphere of nighttime, caves and voodoo. I’d vote it the best drawn of the chapters. Backgrounds are strong and effectively shaded, and the artist is at the very least good with minotaurs – luckily for everyone concerned, because those are the only creatures we meet in the story.

“The Journey” is the second, and most depressing, story in the book. It has a promising beginning of a peasant farmer getting involved with a force of freedom fighters – but the course of events descends into inevitable tragedy and the ending is so miserable, and so easily guessed, that it made me want to throw the book away. But before things get inevitable and tragic the story is pretty good and has some very likable characters. This is due in some part to some pretty nice character design, though sometimes expressions are a little stiff. The art is otherwise not too bad.

If I had thrown the book away after “The Journey”, however, I would have missed out on exactly what I needed after that gloomy and morose episode: good comic relief. “How to Win Friends” is a fun little tale in a cartoonish style (in plot as well as in art) about a mousy gnome inventor who finds himself his village’s last line of defense against a marauding troll. The story takes time to build up to the climax, and most of the fun is in watching the other defenders (including your stereotypical RPG party!) get run off, pummelled, or otherwise dealt with by the troll. This was the first chapter that had me liking the book.

“An Honest Trade” is the cleanup hitter and, true to form, it is the strongest batter in the lineup. (At least as far as the plot goes – the art is mediocre overall and sometimes outright crude.) The story of a weaponsmith who forges swords for any and all brands of cutthroats and vagabonds, and the lengths to which he goes to correct his mistakes when he repents, is one that rings true. It also ends strongly, if not happily.

In Summary:
This first volume of Warcraft Legends is uneven at times, but has a few things in its favor and finishes much stronger than it begins. It probably goes without saying that Warcraft fans will be the ones getting the most out of it, but I think those fans will be well served by this series. And fans of fantasy, in general, may be as well.

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Release Date: August 5th, 2008
MSRP: $10.99

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