Overview

Dragonlance Chronicles #6

Review

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Dragonlance Chronicles #6

Credits

  • Words: Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman & Andrew Dabb
  • Art: Stefano Raffaele
  • Inks: Stefano Raffaele
  • Colors: Djoko Santiko
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Devil's Due Publishing
  • Price: $2.95
  • Release Date: Jan 25, 2006

Having escaped the cages of Fewmaster Toede’s slave caravan, Tanis and his ragtag band of heroes withdraw towards the elven capital of Qualinost.

Led by Tanis’ old friend, Gilthanas, the companions finally have an opportunity to regroup in the relative safety of the elven woods. Following a meeting with the Speaker of the Suns, the heroes learn that the world situation is much grimmer than they realized. Accepting that Lord Verminaard will soon turn his beasts on the elves, the Speaker has decided to lead his people from their homes, in the hopes of finding refuge in the west. Unbeknownst to Tanis, Sturm and the rest of the companions, the Speaker expects them to make a choice between two nearly equally unappealing courses of action.

Reading this adaptation of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the first book in the Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, has been an interesting experience. Having read the source material by Weis and Hickman some 15 years ago, I remember enough of the broad strokes to contrast it with the comic, but not enough that I get hung up on details. The fundamental challenge that this comic faces is that it is 1/8th of one part of a trilogy. As such, this particular issue doesn’t really build smoothly, dealing with some new additions to the party, a refocusing of goals and a climax involving what is essentially an incidental encounter. Interesting ideas, such as the dim view the elves take on Tanis’ parentage or Goldmoon’s faith, just simply aren’t explored in this part of the tale. Rather, they offer a tantalizing hint at the depth the overall epic holds, but highlight the weakness of this issue merely being a sliver of the tale.

Similar challenges comes across in the handling of the characters – with nine party members, plus the addition of Laurana, many of the protagonists only have brief lines in the comic. There’s simply no way for this many characters to convey the same depth in 22 pages that they do in a 200-page novel. While the inside cover does provide a recap of past issues, this book might be better served using a similar style to G.I. Joe: America’s Elite (as the title page features both a story recap and brief bios of the characters involved in the tale). With his adaptation script, Dabb tries to set a timelessness to the tale, using expositional captions as if the reader was experiencing the legend from an ancient tome. The effect of transitioning from the omniscient past-tense captions, to the present-tense dialogue and action of characters is jarring. As a result, the script, while faithful to the source and technically competent, doesn’t provide the reader with any real sense of immediacy, urgency or danger.

Raffaele’s artwork succeeds in conveying the timelessness and majesty of the Dragonlance world. The establishing shots of Qualinost and Pax Tharkas are both visually impressive, as are many of the static panels. The beautifully subdued palette of colorist Djoko Santiko provides the art with the feeling that the reader is witnessing something from a time long past. Artistically, Dragonlance Chronicles unfortunately has the same difficulties as found in Dabb’s script. Raffaele is clearly a talented artist, but this issue did not prove his storytelling abilities to me. He draws the book as if he was illustrating a novel, rather than providing the sequential panels to a comic book. The most obvious example occurs when Tika faces the Draconian – in the space of a panel, she goes from being laid out and in mortal danger, to savagely killing the monster with no transition.

Dragonlance Chronicles is by no means a bad comic, as both Dabb and Raffaele clearly demonstrate they have ability and talent. It is however, a prime example of the inherent flaws many comic book adaptations face, as it is unable to add any of the strengths of comic book storytelling to the tale (and at the same time, highlights what advantages the longer novel has over the shorter comic). Ultimately, this comic is best suited for fans of the Dragonlance universe, as opposed to the general comic reading audience.

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