Manga Village

I’ll start by throwing this out there: I was a compulsive World of Warcraft player for a solid six months of my life in college.  Eventually, despite having a blast playing with my friends, I quit the game, permanently deleted my character, and haven’t looked back since.

WoW Shadow Wing 1Written by Richard A. Knapp; Illustrated by Jae-Hwan Kim
Publisher: Tokyopop
Age Rating: 13+
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $12.99

I have a fairly good grasp of the WoW mythology up until the first expansion pack, which allowed players to travel through a portal to reach the realm of Outland.  That’s where Shadow Wing picks up and instantly crushes the reader with page after page of narration explaining why the portal is significant and why the inhabitants of Azeroth are crossing over.

This could have been a great hook, if not for two setbacks.  First and foremost is the hideous, eye-straining font that the narration is printed in.  It made me cringe every time it popped up in the story and it appears in nearly every panel for the entire first chapter.  The second issue is that it spends a ton of time building the back-stories of the characters, which are both clearly established on the back-cover summary and by the characters’ actions.  I get it: Jorad is a paladin seeking redemption and he is in love with Tyri.  Tyri is a blue dragon who can take human form and, because she is one of the most powerful creatures on Azeroth, is way too headstrong for her own good.

The story is far from engaging: Jorad is taken captive while trying to redeem his honor and happens to cross paths with Tyri, who has been drawn to Outland for mysterious reasons.  Since he is a cardboard cutout, obsessed with honor kind of guy, he goes out of his way to try to protect her (futile).  She has yet to realize that she may lose a battle and hurt him in the process (inevitable).  They’re trying to uncover more about two nether dragons, who are like Tyri in some ways but completely enigmatic in others.  Thrown into the mix are the hellbent-on-world-domination Ragnok Bloodreaver and his followers.

The art is some of the most detailed I’ve seen compared to most manga on the shelves.  Kim’s character designs (especially when it comes to their faces) are insanely detailed, to the point where I wonder how many hours it took for him to sketch and ink Jorad’s beard in every panel.  The dragons are densely shaded and the intricacies of their scales are always included.  That being said, the battle sequences are a mess, often impossible to follow.  Characters are struck, although you’re almost never sure by what or by whom.

Truthfully, the story did not build enough intrigue for me to want to continue with the second installment.  If you’re a big WoW fan, though, you may find a lot to love, as this story might bridge a few gaps the game left out.

About the author

Alex is a comics critic and writer at the blog Sequential State. His previous writing has included work for Manga Village and for the now defunct Manga Widget.

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