Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry #1 (of 5) Review

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I’ve been a big fan of The Dresden Files ever since Syfy created a television series based on the novels several years back. To prepare for watching the show, I caught up on the books. I loved the program and wish it had survived more than one year!

Fortunately, Jim Butcher has been giving wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden stories in comics as well as in the written word (and audiobooks). Dynamite has been working with Butcher to fill in some of the gaps in Harry’s previous escapades.

The latest foray into comics is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry, issue #1 (of 5).

JIM BUTCHER’S DRESDEN FILES: WAR CRY #1
Writers: Jim Butcher, Mark Powers
Art: Carlos Gomez
Cover: Stepan Sejic
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in JIM BUTCHER’S DRESDEN FILES: WAR CRY: “Four months have passed since the events depicted in Dead Beat, Jim Butcher’s New York Times-bestselling seventh novel in the Dresden Files series. A war is raging between the vampire forces of the Red Court and the White Council – a war the wizards are losing. So desperate are the Council that they’ve dragooned the experienced and the outcast to reinforce their thinning ranks of Wardens. One of these draftees is one Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only wizard for hire and a guy who’s long been looked upon with suspicion by the supernatural authorities. Now, he’s one of them, and his first big mission as a Warden is a doozy: take a small team of greenhorns to a frigid town in the middle of nowhere to rescue a handful of mortals who’ve been targeted by the Red Court. The question is, why exactly are these particular mortals so crucial to the outcome of the war? The answer will come only if Harry can keep them, and his team, alive for one very long night. An all-new, original Dresden Files story featuring stunning artwork from Carlos Gomez, and covers by the amazing Stjepan Sejic!”

BRINGING DRESDEN INTO THE REALM OF COMICS MAGIC

Comics like these help fill the time between novel adventures. The latest book is  in a very different place than in the comic, but Harry is the anchor that keeps us interested in everything that takes place, so it’s not difficult to land in difference places in Harry’s life and know just what’s happening.

“The greatest frustration about writing the Dresden Files is all the stories I come up with that are too small or too straightforward to write into a novel,” said Butcher in a recent press release. “One of the great pleasures I’ve had as a writer is getting the opportunity to tell some of those stories in a short-story format, and in graphic novels like this one!  WAR CRY is one of the stories I always wanted to tell but never got the chance to in the context of the novels, and I’m extremely pleased with how well it’s coming out.”

There have been several miniseries produced previously, and they all are “untold stories” from Harry’s past. My favorite to date still has to be the Free Comic Book Day edition that translated the very first Dresden Files short story into the comics format. It was great to see it come to visual life like that.

Since Mr. Butcher is involved, we get healthy doses of Harry’s self-deprecating humor as well as his pop culture awareness in all of these comics. The pacing is quick, and the art is strong and steady, fitting what’s happening to the characters (and monsters) in the book.

By the way, Butcher recently signed a contract with Dynamite to provide more Dresden Files goodness in the coming months, so I’m a very happy guy!

WAR CRY AND NEW WARDENS

In the middle of Iowa, Harry finds himself on a secret mission with several newer wizards, and the White Court hasn’t found it to their advantage to tell Harry exactly what’s going on. As per usual, he’s having to figure things out as he goes along.

This comic introduces several new characters into Harry’s world. and they each stand on his or her own as they interact with the lead character. I found the younger magicians to be the most compelling, with one being the brashest, but all anxious to take his or her place in the current war.

The baddies are the Red Court and Baron Bravosa, the leader of this certain group of blood-suckers. He has a newly turned female vamp at his side, and she makes the Baron explain what’s happening, which is good for readers.

AS USUAL, STRONG ART AND PACING

The Dresden comics have been really outstanding when it comes to their artists. In this first issue, the art is clear and dynamic, while the characters can clearly be identified from each other.

The action sequences are particularly strong, but my favorite was the full-page panel of humans and magicians alike taking on the magical meanies. Nicely done!

BOTTOM LINE: ANOTHER NEW ‘DRESDEN’ TALE FOR FANS OF THE FRANCHISE

If you’ve considered getting into The Dresden Files, this comic might be a good place to give it a try. Some stores will likely still have the previous issues for sale. If you enjoy it, Fool Moon (the second novel) came out in comics adaptation. Or you can go to the novels and catch up that way!