REVIEW: ‘Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides,’ TPB

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides is published by IDW Publishing, written by Jim Zub, art by Max Dunbar, colors by Sebastian Cheng and David Garcia Cruz, with letters by Neil Uyetake. Aubree and Alistair Lucent are a father and daughter who serve both the god Torm and the city of Elturel. When a mission from the High Overseer in charge of the city brings the two into possession of a mysterious puzzle box, they find themselves in the path of the servants of Hell. Luckily, it will also bring them across some unlikely allies.

We’ve all heard the statement about how art imitates life. Sometimes though, it’s the other way around. And life finds itself attempting to imitate art. It is this concept that is baked into the bones of the classic tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons(D&D). But what happens when we take this cycle a step further? When art, imitates life, imitating art? That’s when you get Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tide.

 The biggest struggle I often find with stories that place themselves in the various D&D settings is their failure to capture the unique voice that the game has. This is often due to the writers creating characters that are what people who don’t play D&D think people play in the game, not what they actually play. I have never seen a more authentic take on the true D&D experience than I have in the pages of this story. For the greatest example of this, you need to look no further than at the brave hero Minsc, Ranger of Rasheman, and his faithful miniature giant space hamster Boo.

According to the character sheet for Minsc included in the back of this collection, he is a chaotic good character. Those two words there describe everything you need to know about him. His only concern is the protection and well-being of others. Well, and to blindly smash evil whenever he finds it. If you have played a D&D campaign, you have most likely had a Minsc in your party. Granting names like Sir Ugly Metal to his foes, he gallantly fends of attacks with his hamster-blessed sword. And while writer Zub’s delivery of Minsc’s personality is a wonderful example of the fun characters many D&D players love to create, the writer’s ability to keep the tale from being dragged down from the seriousness that it holds to is easily just as impressive.

Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides tells a story of six adventurers as they are drawn into a deadly conspiracy that will put them face to face with the armies of Hell itself.  The whirlwind adventure never stalls once during this story. Zub manages to keep the party moving from one interesting encounter after another. What is even more impressive is that the reader never feels overwhelmed by the information that comes along. Each of the book’s five chapters has its focal point. The steady cadence of the plot keeps things evolving, but never inundating. Zub also manages to balance plot exposition with action so that no one chapter is bogged down by carrying all the exposition. And both elements are constantly enhanced by the wonderful characters that fill this story.

While I’ve already talked at length about Minsc, each party member here is memorable in their way. My personal favorite is Nerys, Cleric of Kelemvor. One of the more serious members of the party, Nerys shines brightest as the situation deteriorates near the end of the book. She displays some fantastic battle sense, and her camaraderie with Minsc is at times priceless.

All of the character-filled adventure in Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides is further elevated by its amazing art. Everything this book’s story gives to the reader is augmented by its beautifully presented art. Artist Dunbar captures all the adventure, heroism, and humor penned by the story. Equally strong is Dunbar’s excellent creature designs. The numerous infernal minions the group comes face to face with are each striking, and evil in their design, while still feeling in place with the not-particularly-dark tones of the overall story. Dunbar never once blurs the line between fantasy adventure and horror.

The adventurous spirit of Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides is also maintained through the vibrant colorwork. Colorists Cheng and Cruz use a magnificent assortment of bright colors keeping the story from feeling too dark or desperate, no matter how foul the adversaries before the party become.

The last component of this book is its lettering. Letterist Uyetake provides the final piece of this book’s puzzle. By both delivering its narrative in a manner that flows smoothly, as well as giving the various monstrous creatures some extra visual spice to their dialogue. It’s the final touch that brings the story to a perfect completion.

When I look back at Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides I cannot find a single complaint to levy against it. It is a witty, fun, character-driven adventure that creates true tension as it raises the stakes of the story. Great monster designs and all-around fantastic art allow the reader to truly immerse themselves in the tale of swords and sorcery told within its pages.

Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides is available February 17th wherever comics are sold.

Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides
5

TL;DR

When I look back at Dungeons and Dragons: Infernal Tides I cannot find a single complaint to levy against it. It is a witty, fun, character-driven adventure that creates true tension as it raises the stakes of the story. Great monster designs and all-around fantastic art allow the reader to truly immerse themselves in the tale of swords and sorcery told within its pages.