Tabletop gamers, it’s time to set aside the 20 sided die and head down to the local comic book shop and pick up IDW’s Dungeons and Dragons #0 issue that gives you a taste of the company’s two series coming later this year. We got out hands on a copy, and have a complete review, after the jump.

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS #0
Fell’s Five
Writer: John Rogers
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Editor: Denton J. Tipton
Publisher: IDW Publishing

A CAMPAIGN ON THE PAGE

For those of you who have followed the Critical Hit podcast for the last year, you know the basic premise of what occurs when four or five adventurers get together for some dungeon trolling in search of adventure and riches. That’s exactly how this tale plays out as readers are introduced to the Human, the Dwarf, the Halfling, the Elf, and later the Dragonborn, make their way through a dungeon maze and into the Underdark. There they fight their way through a horde of Gnolls, avoid traps, find treasure, and take on a dragon. The ten page tale is like an entire dungeon delve on speed.

Those who play Dungeons and Dragons will get the game references right away, and that adds to the enjoyment of reading the tale. There are even a few moments where the characters poke fun at the situation, much like gamers do during actual game play, which is nice. Those who have never played D&D, yet like the world of fantasy and adventure can still enjoy the story without worrying about getting lost in the minutia.

The fact that there is so much going on is nice as it keeps your attention, but it is also somewhat of a drawback. John Rogers can only cram so much story into the 10 pages he’s been allotted, so in-depth character development is kept to a minimum, and there isn’t a lot of explanation as to why the characters are there, what their ultimate goals are , and so on. It is touched on briefly, but the greater story in this chapter is basic and fun.

STEREOTYPES A PLENTY

The art here is also exactly what you expect from the fantasy genre; hot girls wearing little, mail and leather on the fighters, and a blond Elf that seems more Legolas than original role. The fact that Andrea Di Vito relies on broad stereotypes when creating this world is acceptable as it makes it easier for non-D&D readers to jump on board and enjoy the ride.

This story is the lead-in to the on-going Dungeons and Dragons series that arrives in November, and if this is a real preview of the series to come, this should be a very enjoyable series. Even with the stereotypes and gameplay action, I enjoyed this a great deal.

Rating: ★★★★★

DARK SUN
Freedom
Writer; Alex Irvine
Aritst: Peter Bergting
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Editor: Denton J. Tipton

LIMITED SERIES IN POPULAR SETTING

The Dark Sun campaign setting from 1991 is getting resurrected for the 4th Edition, and it is the setting for the Dark Sun limited series arriving in January. Unlike the main story, this six page tale introduces the reader to a Gladiator who is being sold back into slavery, escapes, and looks stay a step ahead of those who are tasked to track him down.

This story reads more like a Robert E. Howard Conan or Kull tale than a campaign based story most recognizable D&D universe. I think this type of story will work for the limited series, but if it were an ongoing, I think the story could easily get lost amongst the other barbarian/warrior stories that we’ve seen from other companies.

The art here is also very good as Peter Bergting finds ways to inject surprises in the panel as the fast paced action plays out across the page. The style is simpler than the detail found in the main story, but it is a style I have read in other books and I like the look. The best part of the art in this tale is the coloring by Ronda Pattison. She is able to create a world that feels hot and barren with liberal use of a warm color palette.

Rating: ★★★½☆

BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT

If you are into any kind of role playing fantasy game, be it Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, or something else all together, I really think you’ll enjoy the issue. It’s only a dollar, and at that price, you almost can’t let it slip by. I know I’ll be on for the Dungeons and Dragons ongoing series, but am still up in the air about the Dark Sun limited – heck I know I’ll pick up the first issue thanks to this preview. All in all a good, fun, and quick read that doesn’t ask you to make a huge commitment.

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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9 Comments

  1. andy
    August 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm — Reply

    Is this only available at Hastings (says exclusive on cover) or will any comic store have it?

    • August 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm — Reply

      It’s available at all comic shops, this is just the Hastings’ exclusive cover.

  2. @lantis
    August 12, 2010 at 1:14 am — Reply

    I read it and enjoyed it. My only real complaint is that all the characters are stereotypes. It would have been nice to have one character that was playing off type (like a halfling cleric). A nice variety of races though, and I like the introduction of the tiefling.

    Also where did you see the dragonborn? I counted a human, dwarf, elf, halfling, and tiefling. I am guessing there will be a dragonborn in the first issue though given the teaser at the end of this issue.

    For a buck you can’t go wrong, even if the Dark Sun story seems a little lame.

  3. Landle
    August 12, 2010 at 7:22 am — Reply

    I also like that it has back-up material in the Letter Section which provides information for the table-top game (in this case there are stats for a young black dragon). I’m looking forward to stats for the main characters (which was hinted at).

  4. August 12, 2010 at 11:51 am — Reply

    I also picked up this issue and we really happy I did. I played D&D back in the day and this is a great reminder of that time. I picked up a few subtle art references to the original hardcover Players Handbook. Any one else see that?

    I like the stereotypes of the characters, remember this is an introductory story. I just hope that more variety will come in later in the story.

    I also like the ad on the back cover for an upcoming Drizzt comic penned by Salvatore. Looking forward to that.

    • R.Wise
      August 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm — Reply

      I agree with Tore on this one. I have read most of Salvatore’s work with Drizzt and loved every bit of it. I can’t wait for news to come out about this comic, I’m wondering if he’s going to write a new story with Drizzt, have a story arc connecting things, or just write a really fast paced version of his books. I would want the first, but the other two would be completely fine. Way to pick up on that Tore!

  5. thedexter102
    August 13, 2010 at 3:41 am — Reply

    Available on the iPad?

  6. Cardmage
    August 14, 2010 at 8:45 am — Reply

    I think you’re right on target with the review. While I’m looking forward to the Dark Sun setting for the game, it was definitely the weaker of the two stories. Personally for the comic I would have preferred the Eberron setting (Classic DnD, political intrigue, and weird magical steampunk).

  7. Damascus
    September 22, 2010 at 2:13 am — Reply

    I actually really like the 8 issue run of Dungeons and Dragons: In The Shadow of Dragons by Kenzer & Company from 2001-2002. I hope that the higher profile of IDW helps this book to take off and give the fans a few more than just 8 issues of fun.

    I’d like to see a book that goes completely in character, but have little editor boxes pop up whenever the characters get some kind of new gear or learn a new feat/spell and it just lists where in the source material it’s located. That would add a whole different level of depth to the book that D&D’ers could get enjoyment out of, not just saying “Ooh, I found a majicky dagger here, cool beans.” da end.

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