Pathfinder #1 – Indie Review
The major comic companies get enough reviews and press, it’s time for the creator-owned and indie series to get some love and judgment. Indie review takes up-and-coming indie and creator-owned series and puts them through the review process so you can confidently support the best of the small press and passion driven projects in the comic industry.
Title: Pathfinder #1
Writer: Jim Zub (Skullkickers, Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki)
Artist: Andrew Huerta (Everlast, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans)
Colorist: Ross Campbell (Skullkickers, House of Mystery)
Letterer: Marshall Dillon (Green Hornet, A Game Of Thrones)
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Number of Issues: 1 (on-going)
Page Count: 22 (story) 12 (Pathfinder RPG extras)
The Review Bit
This week Dynamite Entertainment brings us a new comic book series based on a pre-existing Geek property from another medium, Pathfinder. Now let it first be said, this has nothing to do with the dreadful Vikings versus Native Americans movie of the same name, which Dark Horse released a comic for 6 years ago. No, this Pathfinder is based off the popular table top RPG from Paizo. It is an award winning and best selling game run off the extended and modified rules of the Revised 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons and is now a comic book too! If you missed it earlier this week, we had a preview of the series you could see here.
Pathfinder follows the adventures of a human fighter named Valeros, a beautiful Varisian sorceress named Seoni, the deadly but sexy elf rogue called Merisiel, and an aging wizard known as Ezren. When the story opens up we find Valeros, Seoni, and Merisiel deep in combat with a group of goblins that are a little bolder than the average foul mouthed green monsters. It is just the type of action packed bloodfest most dice rolling gamers envision their every battle to be. Once the dust is settled they gather one of the goblin corpses, noting its unique scarring, to show their wizard friend, Ezren, when they meet up with him at the nearby town of Sandpoint. Sandpoint is a quaint little town with little defenses but many travelers. Our group meets with Ezren at a local pub and the party begins to form around a mission relating to the goblins that have begun boldly raiding outside of town. After Ezren ventures off to sleep and gather the last member of the group, a dwarven woodsman named Harsk, traditional pub hijinks ensue.
The pub scene truly feels like a game of Pathfinder with friends, as awkward dialogue that is far too revealing spills out like it would from a drunken buddy holding a character sheet. A line like “Hey there Darlin’. What do you recommend to wet the whistle of an elven swordstress like myself?” would normally make for the worst word bubble in a comic, but because you can easily imagine a friend spouting it out while playing D&D, it works oddly perfect for Pathfinder. The scene continues with drinking, joking, innuendo, and bar fights. It’s a rather beautiful combo of real Pathfinder around the kitchen table and in universe story telling before returning to the real plot of the comic. The next morning the characters awaken and form their party to track down these odd goblins, figure out why they’re suddenly acting out, and perhaps kill a few for a small bounty. Of course things are never that simple when they reach the last page plot twist that should ensure some major carnage in the issues to come.
As is the trend with recent game based comic series, such as IDW’s Magic The Gathering comics, Pathfinder comes with more than just a comic story. In the back of this $4 book is 12-pages of Pathfinder gaming information that includes location stats, character profiles, and campaign scenarios. On top of that there is even an exclusive removable, playable tactical map for the game that doubles as a poster. Now this might not be as valuable to resell as the Magic cards in IDW’s recent comics, but it’s certainly a hell of a lot more fun and usable. Even better is that the indepth location and character information all add to the story’s background.
The story of Pathfinder #1 itself is rather enjoyable. Jim Zub (or Jim Zubkavich) doesn’t bring us anything epic or extremely noteworthy in the series’ opening issue, but it is a good amount of fun. The dialogue is goofy when it can be, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and really has the vibe of a game of Pathfinder. In the same, the story can be serious enough to play out some fun action sequences and convey the plot properly; much like a good RPG should unfold.
Andrew Huerta brings some very decent art to the book, with big muscular warriors and unbelievable weapons. He understands a good action sequence and throws a fair amount of them in. Sadly his sexy women are nothing drawn by J. Scott Campbell or Adam Hughes, looking a little too pointy and sketchy now and then. In fact, much of his art looks like it could be a little more refined with the right inker, as the shading is often pencil scratchings and lacking in backgrounds that won’t necessarily pull you out of the story, but might affect your enjoyment of what could be great art. Thankfully Ross Campbell does a pleasing enough job on colors to pull the pages together. Throw this together with an amazing job on lettering by Marshall Dillon, who makes some unique word bubbles for the goblins, varies font size to dialogue volume, and has some rather attractive captions, and the final product is all rather nice. There are even 12 collectable covers, all beautifully done by artists like Matteo Scalera and Dave Dorman, for variant hunters, with one available exclusively at GenCon this week.
The Rating Bit
Pathfinder #1 is not the comic Geeks will be raving about for years to come, but it is an enjoyable read that’ll sell as a surprise hit. For fans of the actual Pathfinder game, it should be a must have with its additional gaming content and great in universe tale. For those who’ve never even rolled a dice, Pathfinder #1 is still an enjoyable fantasy romp for the fan of a laid back sword and sorcery adventure. Its artwork leaves a little to be desired, but is still rather gratifying and great for its action scenes. All in all, Pathfinder #1 earns a nice 7 out of 10 and is worth picking up if you get the chance.
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