In The Witcher #1, Geralt roams Poviss in a time when there are no monsters. But when he helps a fisherman, he discovers something about himself he thought he’d forgotten. And what about the foglets menacing the children? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!
THE WITCHER: FADING MEMORIES #1
Writer: Bartosz Sztybor
Artist: Amad Mir
Colors: Hamidreza Sheykh
Letterer: Steve Dutro
Editor: Megan Walker
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: November 25th, 2020
Previously in The Witcher: Gerald The Witcher has roamed the length and breadth of Poviss, garnering a reputation as a slayer of monsters. But all things must pass, and as the monsters dwindled, so did Geralt’s livelihood and sense of self…
I’ve read none of the books, and precisely one episode of the Netflix streaming service, but I fell immediately under the spell of The Witcher #1. Brooding and melancholy, this opening issue is an excellent introduction to the world of Geralt The Witcher, famed monster killer. But what happens to the man who made his name killing monsters when all the monsters have gone away?
The melancholic tone in The Witcher #1 is immediately evident. The narrative framing fills the pages with feelings of regret, of a life waning, that the best of days are far, far behind. We learn later that these are the words of a maimed character Geralt meets, but they may as well have come from his mouth. For the famed monster hunter, the monsters have all gone. If you have made your name killing the creatures of the night, what is there for you if you’ve killed them all?
The artwork helps frame the overall feel of The Witcher #1. The coloring by Hamidreza Sheykh helps immensely in this regard. Tone of gray, brown and black are the visual signifiers that not only is Geralt’s life less exciting, but the world around him also seems to be winding down.
There’s precious little of the action in The Witcher #1 that someone who has come to it via the Netflix series might expect. Writer Bartosz Sztybor has made sure that the world Geralt moves through is passively aggressively hostile to him. No one raises a hand against him, but no one really, with the exception of the issue’s narrator, welcomes him with open arms. Geralt is a man moving through life searching for that which animated him most when he was younger – but unlike Geralt, the world has moved on. A lot of the fire in his life and much of the excitement, has seemingly faded away.
The narration counterpoints nicely with Geralt’s journey through this issue. In helping a fisherman, Geralt thinks he is moving onto a different phase in his life, one the rest of us would consider normal. For the fisherman, though, his words indicate that the simple act of kindness Geralt renders brings him back to life. Those words come together in a lovely piece of violence, as Geralt finds purpose again, killing foglets, creatures that have been menacing a town’s children. It is only later, when Geralt finds the fisherman dead, that we realise what has really been going on with the narrative device.
The artwork compliments to the tone, with Geralt a figure moving through a world empty of purpose. There are a couple of instances where Geralt’s likeness shifted across a couple of panels aside, but disregarding that, the art is strong and powerful. The strength of The Witcher #1 comes across in Sztybor’s writing – which depicts two men wrestling with understanding their place in a changed world, and how they react to it.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTHY WITCHER
I’ve never read the books and seen barely anything of the streaming series, but I immediately understood who The Witcher is and the world around him. The creators open strong and carry the story easily to the finish, with the writing a highlight. With the books looming large over the venture, and the streaming series an immediate visual counterpoint, it would’ve been easy for The Witcher #1 to slide into the shadows – but instead, writer and artist stamp their talents all over this world and main character, giving life to them both with great confidence.
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The Witcher #1
The Witcher #1 is a strong opening issue, demonstrating that characterization will always trump the violent aspects of the series. With confident writing, and some very fine artwork and coloring, The Witcher #1 is a great place to start for fans of the books and streaming series.