With the last chapter to the Dark Souls series hitting video game shelves on the 12th of April, comes the beginning chapter of a new era of Dark Souls. The first issue for the Titan Comics published comic book adaptation of video game’s most frustrating franchise will be released on the 20th of this month.
The series is being written by George Mann (Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor Miniseries), with the artwork being left to Alan Quah.
Regardless of the shared name, Dark Souls the comic will focus on telling a brand new story rather than rehash any of the other countless stories found throughout the Souls lore. Although, both the comic and the video games have their fair share of similarities (something I will touch up on later in this review), in the comic, fans of the series will be pleasantly delighted to see that they are being introduced to new characters and exploring a brand new world named Ishra.
This review will have some slight spoilers, so read at your own discretion.
Dark Souls #1: The Breathe of Andolus starts off setting the stage for the series; giving us some back story, briefly explaining the curse, and naming some key figures to the Souls comic lore (still not sure if the comic will be canon with the video games).
A dragon named Andolus began Ishra’s Age of Fire by igniting the Sacred Flame and banishing all signs of Dark. Once humanity rose from the ground, the curse of the undying plagued Ishra and the threat of Dark returned. With the heat of the Flame dwindling, Ishra fell deeper and deeper into the Age of Dark.
A human lord known as Baron Karamas attempted to bring Ishra back to how it once was by seeking Andolus and killing the beast in the hopes that the dragon’s last breathe would reignite the dying Flame re-establish the Age of Fire.
Although Andolus’ last breathe was able to restore the Age of Fire, with no other dragon to reignite the Flame for a third time, the next coming of Dark would be impossible to stop.
Karamas realized his mistake and fled the kingdom he once saved; leaving it to crumble yet again.
This is where we start off in the comic. I know, the comic does give you A LOT to start off with, b0ut by doing so, the comic manages to pay respects to how the narrative for the Souls video game series works.
We start of following Fira, a knight who seeks to accomplish what Karamas once did (restoring the Age of Fire for Ishra), and Aldrich, her begrudgingly loyal assistant who’s worldly experience will benefit their quest.
The story for the first issue goes about as well as most introduction issues go. Although it is heavy in introducing the characters and establishing the dynamic between the two, it does a really good job at leaving enough mystery to have me wanting more.
Throughout most of the issue, Fira is struggling to fight the curse that seems to be eating away at her memories. Along with that is the huge amount of regret she has for leaving her fellow knights to fight without her as she went to care for her children (who I am assuming were unable to survive the battle).
As a huge fan of Dark Souls, their choice to stick to the themes of struggling with the harsh reality that we as a human species are born to die and we must struggle to deal with that fact as we get closer and closer to that point is definitely going to be my reason to continue following this series.
I was able to tell right off the bat that this comic’s main protagonist, Fira, is based on the character Lucatiel from Dark Souls 2. Both of these characters struggle with the curse’s ability to waste away your memory as your body and soul become more affected with it, which I always saw as a metaphor for a person’s memory fading as they grow older and get closer to death.
It’s a theme that is central to the lore of Souls and I am really glad that they stuck to it. However, I do believe that this comic book series will be better able to get that theme across to readers due to it being a book focused on narrative rather than a game focused on gameplay.
Although some might say that having a female protagonist was done solely to satiate the ‘bickering feminists’ I believe that it was a very smart move. What better person to carry a story that deals with life and death than someone who has the ability to bear another life?
Granted she does need some extra help to bring life into Ishra, but that is something for 4chan to illustrate, not Quah and Mann.
The ending battle between Fira and the Dragon Augerer (Baron Karamas) might come off as a bit
anticlimactic, but for a first issue ending fight it hits the nail right on its head. It gives us a glimpse at the type of fighter Fira is as well as show off some of her skills with the sword; I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of her fighting in the rest of the series.
I’m also looking forward to see if this comic series will have Fira change up her fighting style and choice of weapon in order to adapt to certain enemies; much like the video games have the players do.
Although the art style of the comic is nothing to really foam at the mouth over, it does land on the safe point of giving you a visual representation of this world’s atmosphere without distracting readers from the narrative.
The overall hazey look to the colors allows for it to distinguish itself apart from the otherwise very dark look of the video games, but I do feel myself missing the very dark and soulless look that I grew accustomed to while playing the games.
Quah’s paneling style is something I have not really seen before in most comic books; rather than stick to the traditional left to right panel orientation (with the occasional full-pager), this comic seems to consist of mostly full-page scenes with up-and-down style panels narrating the story. It’s something I had to adjust my eyes too, but it was nothing too distracting.
If you come into this series as an avid fan of the video games, like myself, I have no doubt that you will find yourself enjoying it. Even if you come in a comic fan, you’ll find something in the disturbed protagonist to keep you coming back.
By borrowing the story structure of Dark Souls 1 and running with the themes of Dark Souls 2, this comic looks to give us a perfect blend of what fans loved most about the original two games.
Sidenote: Although the Sunbro doesn’t show up for too long, the way he was drawn was absolutely amazing. I mean, LOOK AT HIM! He looks like a final form Solaire after hitting the gym a couple hundred times a month. He’s glistening, tall, brooding, and everything a Dark Souls fans aspires to become.
Once again, Dark Souls #1: The Breathe of Andolus is set to come out on April 20th, and will come in 9 different covers (which you can check out below). The second issue to this series, The Everlord , will come out some time next month.
Also 4/20 Dank Souls
For info on where you can buy the cover you like most, make sure to check out your local comic book stores, or call 1-800-COMIC-BOOK