“Maybe we were both fools to ride into these woods.”
Well, yes. If your wife was captured and turned into a vampire the last time you went in to the woods, you might re-think that. Especially if, as you claim, you’ve since then spent the last eight years hanging out at its edges, warning people off from entering because your vampire wife tends to kill them. And, you know, if you go in anyway, and you see skulls and body parts hanging from trees, and then come to a graveyard and meet a “grave hag” who’s tongue is about four feet long, and you’re scared, but you stop to drink some wine with this guy with you who’s basically a complete stranger, that might indeed classify you as a fool.
I want very much to like this story. I love Joe Querio’s artwork and Carlos Badilla’s coloring, and the basic setting of a gloomy magical medieval horror fantasy world (and I am a fan of sword and sorcery). So, I read it, without realizing that The Witcher is/was a game first, and before that, apparently, a book series (late breaking news: according to a fellow CB writer, it was a TV show too. I am, as they say, out of the loop). Knowing that, now, explains some stuff, like why writer Tobin, whose work I’ve enjoyed before, has his main characters kind of arbitrarily entering a dangerous haunted forest for no other reason than to just be getting along the road.
The meeting of the two main characters, Geralt, the Witcher of the title, and Jakob (who kind of weirdly calls himself a hunter, as if it’s a profession, even though when we meet him he’s fishing. Are these character classifications that one can choose in the game? Like for example the old D&D fighter and thief?) is about the most awkwardly obvious character intro I’ve see in comics. Writer Paul Tobin seems to be in a hurry to just get on with the story—or, actually, the action, since I’m not sure what the story is yet. Which sounds exactly like the old D&D role-playing sessions of my youth.
And I’m still not sure about this Witcher dude. Is he someone who kills witches? Why? When? On who’s authority? Or does he just travel around killing monsters in general? Is the more than one witcher? I suspect fans of the game, and of the books, and the TV show, know this, but for a newbie to this world like me, I’m lost. Yes, and is it part of the game/book/franchise that this Witcher guy changes personality from page to page, from stoic killer to ribald joke-teller?
I can’t help feeling this comic is for people who are already fans of the franchise. But it left me, as a non-game-player, kind of scratching my head.
So being the aforementioned CB writer who informed John that the Witcher was/is a game and book series, I’d like to clear up some stuff before I go into my take of the comic.
Firstly, Geralt of Rivia was made into a Witcher due to a special mutagen that gives enhanced stats and the ability to control elemental forces. Yes there is more than one Witcher, there were a lot before some mob came through and killed a bunch of ’em. Now there are maybe seven Witchers, with a few new recruits.
Witchers are kind of like Jedi, if Jedi were mercenaries mainly tasked with killing monsters that normal humans couldn’t tackle like the “Drowner” that was eyeing ol’ Jakob. There are no classes that can be chosen in the game but there are three base attributes that correspond with stat upgrades. Witchers are the authority on killing monsters because
1. They were created for it.
2. No one else wants to do it.
All Witchers are trained with two weapons, Witchers silver for killing monsters and Witchers steel for killing anyone else.
Geralt’s character is meant to be sarcastic most of the time, and in the video game the voice acting helps establish that very well. The comic may be at a loss to convey that because of the writing or the medium itself, I’m not sure of which but it doesn’t help Geralt’s characterization that I can agree on.
Now on to the story…
As John mentioned, this comic sort of drops the reader in the middle of a well-established story, which would work if it opened up like the game and Geralt had amnesia and the audience could follow along. Here the comic makes Jakob seem like the narrator and places some enigmatic weapon at his disposal. The story seems to take place before the video game since Geralt is in possession of his Witchers silver and his memories. A common theme of the video game seems to be Geralt catching wind of some monster in some small town and then finding out that there is more to the job than it initially seemed. This seems to be the case with the first arc of this story but I can only guess at it leading into beginning of the video game.
I enjoyed t
he first issue, though not as much as I thought I would from a storytelling standpoint — though since I’m not familiar with Paul Tobin I don’t want to write him off just yet. Hopefully as the story unfolds it will become clearer; however, I agree with John that it should’ve been written with new readers in mind instead of the original fans of the franchise.