Comic Review: Dark Souls #1

DarkSouls_Comic_Issue_1

Turning Dark Souls into a comic was always going to be a challenge. One of the signature traits that draws players to the Souls games like moths to a flame is its vague, indirect method of storytelling that forces you to piece together every little bit of lore you can find (through the environment, in item descriptions, etc) and try your best to interpret them, comparing thoughts and theories with the community in an attempt to discover the true history behind the game worlds. None of that is really possible in a comic book.

Thus is my conundrum in trying to wrap my brain around The Breath of Andolus, the debut issue in the new Dark Souls comic series, written by George Mann, illustrated by Alan Quah, and published by Titan Comics. It won’t be available in digital and retail comic shops until April 20th, but I got a chance to check out an early review copy.

The official synopsis is as follows:

“Welcome to the world of Dark Souls; a landscape bathed in arcane fantasy, where primordial forces govern the tides of time, bonfires flicker in the darkness, and the undead stalk the earth in search of impossible redemption. Dive into this original tale of adventure and visceral horror that throws readers deep into the twisted myth of the most celebrated video-game series of recent times!”

The comic begins with a more specific precursory overview, describing the spread of the undying curse across the land of Ishra during the Age of Fire, and how the human lord, Baron Karamas, hunted the Wyrm King Andolus to cure himself of the curse, only to doom mankind by extinguishing the dragon’s breath keeping the Sacred Flame ablaze.

From there, the story begins with Fira, a lady knight and the apparent ‘Chosen Undead’ protagonist of this tale, beginning her quest to bring about the return of the bright days and seek salvation for her people. Waking from a nightmare by the light of a bonfire, Fira and a scryer named Aldrich venture into the Crystalline Labyrinth in search of the tooth of Andolus, which has been fashioned into a dagger wielded by the “dragon augerer.” There are a few brief battles, but Fira doesn’t die a bunch of times (or at all) as you might expect the lead character of a Dark Souls story to do.

Viewed solely as a fantasy comic, the artwork is fantastic. However, for a Dark Souls comic the color palette and overall art style don’t quite jive with the dark fantasy setting of the games. The comic will be available in a variety of alternate cover options, but they’re all misleading in that they portray a different style and tone than what’s actually found on the inside. Then there’s Aldrich, who seriously looks like Dhalsim from Street Fighter. He just doesn’t strike me as a character that belongs in the Dark Souls universe.

One thing the comic does get just right, though, is the dwarfing sense of scale of the environments and boss baddies, which is effectively presented through the use of large, page-filling illustrations with very few panels or cells.

I honestly still don’t know if I like the idea of Dark Souls as a comic or not, and it’ll probably take seeing how things progress from here before I can say one way or the other. I like this first issue as a fantasy comic, but had I not known beforehand it was set in the Dark Souls universe, I don’t think I would have been able to tell. Nothing about the art or story really conveys the feelings of fear and tension and dread that are at the heart of the Souls franchise, or adds any memorable lore value. Hopefully things will get darker–and more Dark Souls-like–as Fira journeys on to the Weeping Forest to face the Everlord in the second issue coming in May.

Image Credit: Comic Book Resources: http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-previews/dark-souls-1-titan-comics-2016

Image Credit: Comic Book Resources: http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-previews/dark-souls-1-titan-comics-2016

Image Credit: Comic Book Resources: http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-previews/dark-souls-1-titan-comics-2016

Image Credit: Comic Book Resources: http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-previews/dark-souls-1-titan-comics-2016

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!