Sunday, 8 January 2017

Mercadian Masques promo comic

Story - Scott McGough & Kev Walker (based on the novel by Francis Lebaron)
Art - Kev Walker
Editor - Michael Mikaelian
First appeared in Duelist presents MAGIC: the Gathering Mercadian Masques

After the demise of The Duelist Wizards was supposed to go full digital, yet somehow ended up publishing magazines for a while longer. First there was "Duelist presents MAGIC: the Gathering Mercadian Masques" (which going by the text next to its barcode I would just call The Duelist #42, but neither the MTGSalvation Wiki, nor Magic Librarities, nor Wikipedia mention it), then 15 issues of Top Deck. All of these are entirely skippable for those reading through the storyline canon, but there is one feature that I wanted to talk about anyway: the promotional comics for the novel line.

For all sets of Masques block and Invasion Kev Walker took a scene from the novels and adapted those to comic form. There are a bunch of differences between the original scenes and the comics, and obviously the novels trump their adaptations, so I don't count these as canonical. However, they are pretty awesome, and fairly well known after they were shared on MTGSalvation a few years back (9 years still counts as a few. Shut up.)  So they are worth a quick look!

Reading them in the thread I linked to above is probably easier than clicking through the media displayer of Blogger, but here it is for completion's sake. This comic is from that thing that may or may not be The Duelist #42.

First off: the art is fantastic! There are one or two odd poses, but other than those everything is great. Amazingly detailed and very dynamic. Kev Walker was a very good choice for doing these comics, as while you may just know him as a long standing Magic artist, he also has an extensive career in comics. This is someone who knows how to do page lay-outs and panel transitions and portrays the illusion of movement expertly.

Something that probably nobody notices but that a comic aficionado will appreciate is the use of "sound effects" in this comic. Look at that big "SKRA-VAM" when Tahngarth hits a Cateran Enforcer with a table, juxtaposed with the smaller "chut-sk" of the Enforcer's neck breaking, for example. It's a small detail, but one that shows that a lot of thought went into the presentation of this comic. These aren't just a few illustrations of the story with text balloons slapped onto them.

As for the story... I dunno. We get a recap, a short moment to set the stage, and then a fight scene. It's fine, but of course deliberately incomplete to get you to buy the novel. And I was going to buy the novel anyway, so... All I can say is that it does get the tone of the novel across quite well. There are some funny moments, some characters work, but the focus is mostly on the action. You know what you are going to get in the book when you buy it based on this advertisement. I do think it's smart that though that they managed to find space for some character work with Tahngarth. Not to spoil the next review, but for me the time devoted to character interactions there is much more of a draw than the setting or the plot.

As I consider this non-canon there's no continuity or timeline talk to be had. I'll just point out that in the novel the scene is longer. The escape starts with a bit of deception in which a local boy the crew befriended pretends to be a wine seller to create a diversion, and there is a bit where Karn grabs a giant and dances around with him, since as a pacifist he refuses to fight.

And what else is there to say? It's just an elaborate advertisement, but a quite awesome one.

Next time I'll be back with a longer review, because obviously I did go out to buy the novel! I've got a big deadline at work coming up next week, but after that I'll try to put the next review up as quickly as I can.

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