Saturday, 5 April 2014

Comic Review - Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1

Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1

Dynamite Entertainment and Paizo Inc.

Written by Jim Zub
Interior art by Leandro Oliveira

"In Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1, the Pathfinder heroes head to the city of Magnimar, and danger isn't far behind. As the wizard Ezren seeks an audience with the Pathfinder Society, his adventuring allies explore the city's ancient magic, well-hidden secrets, and deep political divides. The dangers and opportunities of the big city could bring the adventurers closer together - or tear them apart!"

Type 'Pathfinder Heroes' into Google and you'll find images of the primary Pathfinder personalities as illustrated by Wayne Reynolds. They have poise and something of a personality, and each one appears adventure-weary and experienced; each one has a history and a story to tell. It's only natural that such iconic images would have to appear in their own series.

It's also natural that they should appear in comic book format, considering they are the visual key of the Pathfinder world. They have already had some intense adventures in a previous series so here they are again, on the adventure trail in the city of Magnimar.

The heroes are Seoni the sorcerer; Valeros the fighter, mercenary; Harsk, Dwarf ranger; Ezren the wizard; Merisial the Elf rogue; Kyra the cleric. The six of them arrive in the city by ship and the opening panels give you a slight indication of their personalities, both visually and narratively, but it's when they get into the city proper that their stories begin.

Jim Zub's writing is neat and the story is conveyed through the conversations between the characters and not in narrative panels. This approach usually results in stilted dialogue that feels like awkward exposition, something I dislike in any form of storytellling, but Jim's writing does away with the majority of that. It flows well, the exchanges between characters feel natural and, even though you can't get away from exposition in all it's forms, he manages to make the conversations interesting. The story itself is only at the beginning so you can forgive the slow start, and slow it is; they arrive in the city and the story follows four threads that are setting the characters up for the ongoing adventure. Just as the story hits a possible moment of action - cliffhanger! This isn't half as bad as it sounds as the opening issue really is a scene-setter and eases you into the new adventure. There's plenty to come so that suits the series just fine.

The characters are well known as Wayne Reynolds illustrations so to transfer them onto the pages of a comic and give them life and dynamism is no small feat; luckily, this comic has artist Leandro Oliveira to make sure that this goes off without a hitch. He renders these characters well and they each have their own visual personality, but I was ever so slightly concerned about the environment as I turned to the second page, in which we see the city in all it's splendour as the ship comes in to harbour. The view is excellent but lacking in detail, and the city seems a little unequal, but you certainly get an impression of scale. That's a minor gripe as the art throughout is excellent and you do get a feel for the characters and the city itself. In particular there's a great illustration of the heroes sat around a table discussing their next move and that, to me, sums up a gaming adventurer party. The illustrations are crisp and detailed and the designs are very Pathfinder, that high-fantasy aesthetic that feels quite used and practical. Leandro Oliveira has done a fantastic job of recreating this particular world and I look forward to seeing much more of his work.

Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1 is a great first issue and a great introduction to this new adventure, and will appeal to new readers as well as those already immersed in the adventures of these Pathfinder heroes.

"Each issue also includes an exclusive Pathfinder Roleplaying Game encounter, and a bonus playable tactical map/art poster. In celebration of the new series' release, and in conjunction with New Comic Book Day, Dynamite and Paizo will be organizing special in-store Pathfinder game events, in which chosen local comic stores will become part of the story and game play. (Comic shops interested in participating should contact their local Dynamite rep). Further, Pathfinder fans can have their character immortalized with game statistics and an original illustration in the special "Heroes of Magnimar" game supplement, part of the Pathfinder: City of Secrets collection."

Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1 will be available on May 14th.

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