Rick and Morty have been everywhere together, done unspeakable things together, but have they ever played the greatest roleplaying game ever? Things won’t be the same as Rick & Morty take on Dungeons & Dragons from IDW Publishing.
Writers: Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub
Artist: Troy Little
Colorist: Leonardo Ito
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: August 29, 2018
Previously in Rick & Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #1: Morty sees the opportunity to score some lady action with the latest craze to sweep school – Dungeons & Dragons. But without a mentor, Morty has no idea how to go about rolling up a new character, let alone making a saving throw against…anything! That’s Rick Sanchez’s cue to come in and help his hapless grandson traverse the perilous roleplaying path. As ever, things don’t go quite to plan in this first issue of a brand new series…
ROLL TO SAVE AGAINST FAMILIARITY
Any adaptation of a well-known series faces the following facts. If you stick to slavishly to the format, you alienating new readers interested, but unsure, about the product. If you deviate from the One True Path, you risk alienating the fans who have been there from the beginning, and boy, do they take to Twitter, like a duck to water.
So, writers Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub had a difficult task. With Rick & Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #1, they’ve taken the path of least resistance (or what the IP holders demanded seems more likely, to be fair). Rick & Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #1 reads very much like an episode of the series, but less fast paced and far more labored, unfortunately.
Jim Zub is well known to comic readers, penning the Wayward, also for Image Comics. Rothfuss has a fine pedigree in fantasy, penning (with glacial, GRR Martin-style speed) the acclaimed Kingkiller Chronicles series, as well as being an avid role player and board gamer. It is more the gamer side of Rothfuss that comes out, as is evidenced by the slavish attention to rolling up a character and an extended depiction of a marathon gaming session as Morty is slowly driven insane by the old school gamers Rick has assembled to assist tutoring his grandson.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Those who’ve watched Rick & Morty know what you’re going to get. An amoral universe in which the amoral Rick Sanchez runs amok like a cruel, uncaring God, with his increasingly less credulous grandson in tow. Hilarity ensues (and it is very funny) as the world falls apart around both characters with disturbing regularity.
The key to enjoying Rick & Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #1 is if the reader thinks the transition from animation to comic book has been successfully pulled off. I used slavishly before, and there is a huge amount that is familiar with this book. Certainly, both leads are as you see them on screen, down to the trademark comments and belching from Rick, plus the always amusing dumbstruck look Morty affects whenever something too outré has occurred.
That said, the writers haven’t done much to go beyond what fans of the show have long become used to. In an adaptation like this, that’s no real surprise, though you do begin to wonder how long an audience will stick with the series when the show’s template is hardwired into each issue. After all, if the Rick & Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #1 is going to be more of the same, but in a static comic, then fans of the show may just decide to stick with the show.
While the writing is decent, and some of the interludes (Morty in the games shop is one favorite) do work reasonably well, the main gripe I have with this issue is it takes so long to get started. I get that first issues are all set up, with the payoff coming down the road, but with an established property like Rick & Morty, this issue seems to have missed that memo and spent pages and pages exploring Morty’s ignorance about D&D, with more pages of Rick boasting about his knowledge and prowess playing the game. Less is more, in this instance.
All that aside, Troy Little’s artwork is a fine adaptation of the series’ look. There’s no doubting the comic book look of the animated series, and Little has brought that to the page in spades. The coloring I enjoyed a great deal also, with vibrant greens seeming to predominate during the issue. A Doctor Who writer once said that ‘green is the color of monsters’ and Rick & Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #1 has plenty of them on offer.
BOTTOM LINE – A BIT TOO MUCH SET UP AND NOT NEARLY ENOUGH LAUGHS
Rick & Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #1, despite my griping above, is a decent introduction to readers new and old to the continuing adventures of our misfit heroes. Now that the set-up is out of the way, and Rick & Morty are up to their necks in zombies and saving throws, the coming issues should rattle along at breakneck speed. More of the same, no doubt, as the series, but while the next set of episodes are still in development, this book is a more than adequate replacement.
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