In Review: Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card #1

When there's a new Dresden comic from Dynamite you should run to get it!

The cover: Harry’s staff and ring are glowing in an alley. Thomas has got his back with a knife that’s almost a machete, while Murphy is before him with her gun ready. Emerging from the other end of an alley is an unknown humanoid, whose shape shows it must be from the Nevernever. Outstanding cover by Carlos Gomez who does exceptional work on the setting, making this city incredibly realistic with its details: wires, runoff, walls, and windows. Having the three characters on the cover quickly tells the reader who the heroes are. The colors are also well done by Mohan. The emanations from Harry’s items stand out among the dim colors of the alley. There’s some really cool color work on the characters’ clothes and the billowing steam. Well done in every way. Overall grade: A

The story: Jim Butcher and Mark Powers start this story in dramatic fashion with two women running down a Chicago alley at 1:36 a.m. They make it to their apartment, but so has their pursuer, who when he leaps before them buckles the concrete and blows out cars’ windows. “Ladies, where are you going in such a rush?” he asks. Once inside they call 911, give their location, and beg help to come in right away. “Thank you for the invitation,” says the operator and then their door blows in. The being is over six feet tall, has a mohawk, and wears an odd leather outfit. This individual tears the life force out of both women. Eight hours later, Harry, Molly, and Murphy are in the morgue after being summoned by Butters, a medical examiner. “I’ve run every test known to man, and every result says they should still be alive.” The White Court, a group of powerful vampires, are the immediate suspects and Harry has to investigate, but he’s not going alone. He turns down both Murphy and Molly’s offers to accompany him because he knows someone who can better help. Page 13 has him meeting with this character and it’s always a sign of major trouble when Harry has to go to this individual. Before Harry and that person make their way, there’s a brief interlude of the magical creature killing another person. Then it’s back to Harry and his partner who are attacked in their car by an enormous creature. These characters are as fantastic as they are in the books and this was a superb read! Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals by Carlos Gomez are stunning. The first page is a cinematic introduction to the women on the run and their pursuer. Notice the outstanding gigantic shadows of the characters as they enter the scene. Gomez even has billowing steam coming out of the ground change its shape to give the sequence of panels a greater sense of motion. The women look fantastic, with the terror on their faces palpable. The killer is completely different from anything seen in any previous Dresden comic: it looks like it stepped out of a Dragonball Z cartoon. He’s some kind of supernatural creature given his look. The joy he expresses as he rips the ghost-like life out of each woman show him to be a monster. Molly and Murphy look amazing, with Molly getting the most moments, with her scene at Harry’s place great. Harry’s ally that he picks up is a perfect match of his description in the novels, looking absolutely physically fit. The action sequence in the end is wonderful: with a convertible moving at “90-plus” with Harry trying to take the creature out. Gomez really captures the motion well, using the vehicle’s lights to show its speed, and changing his point of view in every panel to keep the story exciting. Outstanding! Overall grade: A+

The colors: A Chicago back alley at one in the morning should be extremely dark, but colorist Mohan rightly keeps things bright so characters can be seen, though using just the right mix of colors for the reader to recognize the late hour. The wild colors of the killer match his crazed attitude perfectly. When his victims’ life force is pulled from their bodies they are outlined in a terrific ghostly blue. As with the previous Dresden series, Molly’s hair is an absolute standout. The creature that attacks Dresden and his companion in the final five pages has an outstanding color scheme that makes it life-like. Mohan also does a terrific job on the sounds with them exploding with colors to make them powerful. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, a whistle, sounds, and the “To be continued…” are created by Bill Tortolini. It’s always good to see a letterer allowed to use a different font for a character’s narration, and Tortolini is allowed and he does a great job. The yells in the book are top notch. Heck, take a gander at the last page’s utterances and sounds — six different fonts which allow the reader to hear each differently. Overall grade: A+

The final line: When there’s a new Dresden comic from Dynamite you should run to get it! This faithfully continues the wizard detective’s adventures beyond the books with superior story and art. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To find out more about the comic book adventures of Harry Dresden go to http://dynamite.com

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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