On the Sea of Swords, off the Moonshae Isles, a misfit crew of adventurers led by flame haired Helene escort the famed sorceress Shandeir to Elturel. But the isle of Skadaurak is aflame, which can only mean that the drake, Hondarrah the Red Rage is awakening? Role d20 to find out what happens in our Major Spoilers review!
Writer: B Dave Walters
Artist: Tess Fowler
Colors: Jay Fotos
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: July 24th, 2019
Previously in Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish: The opening of this issue depicts a happier, carefree existence for Helene and her band of adventuring friends. But the awakening of the dragon known as the Red Range changed all that. As its flames scoured at the Moonshae Isles, so did it burn away the innocence of those happier times. In the present day, the Red Rage still rampages, and Helene and her friends are desperate to stop the creature.
In an era where millions of people are listening to podcasts like Major Spoiler’s Critical Hit, or any number of live-streamed sessions, Dungeons & Dragons is perilously close to going mainstream, if it isn’t already there. It’s great to see the resurgence continue with entertaining comics such as Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #2.
My first introduction to the Forgotten Realms came in the late 80s when I picked up a copy of Darkwalker on Moonshae. While I’ve never role-played in the setting, I have a deep admiration for the extensive world-building that people like Ed Greenwood embarked upon. Happily, comics like Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #2 not only take me back to those happy days reading Doug Niles opening book in the trilogy, but give me a chance vicariously to adventure in the setting.
Tess Fowler’s artwork is the real hero in this issue. Her inking is bold and confident, particularly with Helene’s hair, which has a life of its own. The confident character design ensure that the reader isn’t left wondering who is who; instead, we are left to admire the diverse cast of men, women and otherworldly creatures who populate the pages of Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #2. Indeed, it’s a good thing the characters are so well realized, as there is a certain sketchiness to some of the background work, as you can see in the arrival to Mintarn, or indeed its destructions as the Red Rage gets down to work.
Writer B Dave Walters sets out a split narrative – a before and after that allows a stark contrast between where the characters started – innocent, a certain naïve charm despite the fact they have adventured – and the battle hardened desperados who struggle to deal with the betrayal of one of their friends and the ongoing devastation caused by their inability to stop the Red Rage (which is a fantastic name for a dragon, no?)
Helene is the best drawn of the characters – a natural leader who inspires and is interested in the history of the people she meets, particularly the impish and impious Shandeir, a wizened old mage with no respect for anyone. Others in the cast, such as Helene’s blue skinned friend Aiden, are less well drawn, but there’s only so many pages you can devote to character moments when a dragon is spending most of them on the rampage.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
There’s a certain satisfaction watching the cast evolve from the twee group of happily backslappers who’ve probably had one or two adventures together (like most new role-players) who are then thrust into world shaking danger by the writer (or Dungeon Master, as the case may be). For me, being the dark cynic of the review team at Major Spoilers, I certainly enjoyed the latter, more desperate moments of Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #2. Despite that, I was cast back to happier roleplaying times with the earlier sections of the issue. But I can see how the book needed to show that progression, to see the scales fall from the character’s eyes, as Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #2 is clearly a signpost to darker times for those who survived the Red Rage’s opening attack on the Moonshae Isles.
BOTTOM LINE: A FUN PREAMBLE
Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #2 opens like a fun preamble to a deeper, longer adventure for a new to roleplaying group of friends. It’s light and breezy, with a hint of the deeper past not only of the Moonshae Isles, but the wider Forgotten Realms themselves. Happily eschewing the white-bread characterization of earlier iterations of D&D, Dungeon & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #2 fully embraces a diverse cast of human and non-humanoid characters, drawn together to combat a common peril.