Written by Christian Miller
The Dragon Age series is a well-known and respected dark fantasy franchise. It’s the type of series that grabs you by the nether regions and doesn’t let go, hooking you near immediately. The success of the first installment in the game series, Dragon Age: Origins, was so great that it spawned a mass release of content across many mediums including: novels, tabletop RPG’s, anime, comics and even a web series starring the awesome (and uniquely adorable) uber nerd Felicia Day.
It goes without saying that when given the chance to read something that would expand upon my knowledge of the Dragon Age universe I jumped at the chance. As I have mentioned before, the little bits of insider knowledge that come from reading video game novels or comics, or movie novelizations, are irresistible to nerds. As Simon Pegg would say, they’re like “a slice of fried gold”.
That being said though, I was a bit scared to check the comic out. Dragon Age is definitely among my top favorite fantasy series, and I didn’t want to read it and become disappointed.
So I hopped online and read the official description of Dragon Age Volume 2: Those Who Speak from Dark Horse: “Dragon Age Lead Writer David Gaider brings his newest epic to a revealing conclusion! With her dark past laid bare, the pirate Isabela must resolve to escape this dungeon or lose herself forever, even as King Alistair must take up arms against an old ally if he is to have any hope of uncovering the fate of his father!”
As soon as I read that David Gaider, who wrote Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Origins-Awakening and Dragon Age II, was the man behind Those Who Speak, and my fears were immediately dissolved. I jumped straightaway into reading Those Who Speak: Volume 2 (unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to read Volume 1) and I must say, I am in awe.
Not only does Those Who Speak expand upon the Dragon Age universe perfectly by offering juicy tidbits of info and backstory, but also those who played both Origins and Dragon Age 2 will suffer a spontaneous explosion of excitement at some of the revelations learned upon reading the comic.
The story of Those Who Speak was fast paced, action packed and incredibly gripping. I literally read the entire comic cover to cover without setting it down once.
That wasn’t the only thing awesome about the comic though. The artwork was very colorful and vibrant, and fit perfectly alongside the story. The cover was also done very well, with a strikingly realistic portrayal of Isabela.
For the most part, I loved everything about Those Who Speak. I do however, have two complaints about the book, and they stuck out like a sore thumb to me.
One. Varric doesn’t really look like Varric at all, at least the video game version of the dwarf. This might not bother some people, but to someone like me who has played the video games to death, Varric was just too off for me. He seemed too tall, his hair didn’t seem right and his face just seemed too different. There were several times when reading through the story I stopped and thought to myself, who the heck is that, only to learn in the next panel that it was Varric.
Two. Isabela didn’t seem like Isabela, at least not until the third chapter. Isabela is a character well-known for her sarcasm, joking manner and flirty-often-to-the-point-of-sexual mannerisms. Even in the face of adversity she is defiant and hilarious, no doubt to the frustration of those around her. So, it didn’t really make a lot of sense to me why Isabela didn’t act like this until the third chapter. I was expecting the funny, sarcastic Isabela. Instead I got serious, kill anyone that stands in my way Isabela, at least until chapter 3.
Ultimately though, they were two small grievances in the overall scope of the comic that barely affected the overall experience.
Story: 10/10– The story is something that will hook you near instantly and not let go. Even non-fans of Dragon Age would appreciate how well written the comic is. It is definitely top-notch writing.
Artwork: 9/10– The artwork of the comic is also top shelf. The colors are vibrant, and the line work is solid. The tone of the art goes along perfectly with the pace the story sets.
Character: 8/10– The characters are, for the most part, true to their video game counterparts. The vast majority of the dialogue feels true to what each character would say, and I had no problem relating to the various characters throughout the comic as living and breathing.
Overall: 9/10– Overall, Those Who Speak Volume 2 is a worthy and welcome addition. Lovers of top quality comics should definitely not pass this gem up. If you’re a fan of Dragon Age though, you have to read it. I’m not kidding. You would be doing yourself a disservice not reading it. Dragon Age Volume 2 Those Who Speak hits store shelves January 30, 2013.