Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13+
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Pages: 504
  • ISBN: 978-1427806901
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Left to Right
  • Series: WarCraft

Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition Vol. #01

Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Matthew Alexander     December 04, 2009
Release Date: October 16, 2007

Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition Vol. #01

Western fantasy author meets Korean comic artist, giving birth to a cool melding of the contents, unfortunately the story is mediocre.

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Kim Jae-hwan and Richard A. Knaak

What They Say
The mighty Sunwell, a fount of unbridled mystical power, was the essence of the high elves' lives. As much a part of their existence as eating or breathing, the Sunwell enabled the high elves to build their magnificent cities, mold the land to their purposes, and make for themselves whatever they desired...until a terrible act of betrayal decimated the high elves and seemingly destroyed the Sunwell forever. Now, a young blue dragon races against the forces of the undead Scourge to locate any remainder of the Sunwell before its awesome energies can be used for destruction!Set in the mystical world of Azeroth, Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy chronicles the adventures of Kalecgos, Anveena, Tyrygosa, and Jorad Mace as they take on vengeful bounty hunters, traverse the treacherous Lordaeron wastelands, and fight for their lives against the Ghostlands' restless dead!

The packaging effort put into this book is nothing short of awesome.  This hardcover book is bigger than any A5 manga on my shelf.  The title on both the front and back covers are raised for a nice finishing touch.  The front of the book has eight glossy color pages and the back of the book has another eight color pages including copies of the original covers for all three volumes.  There is also some preliminary sketch art as another bonus.  The print itself is clean throughout and the paper is exceptionally heavy.  However, there are times when I wonder if this format size failed to transfer the original size of the individual volumes.  There are a few occasions when the top of the page cuts off the head of a character in the panel and I don’t know if that is the same as the original B6 sized single editions or a byproduct of the larger format.  That concern aside, this book would otherwise be a solid A+ for the packaging.

Kim’s art is very detailed and his character designs work perfectly with this western fantasy story.  I really enjoyed his interpretation of orcs, dwarves, dragons, and minotaurs.  The human and elf characters are well proportioned and backgrounds are fairly detailed with many exceptional pages depicting mountain scenes or those inside castles.  My only real complaint would be Kim’s overuse of screen tones for shadow work.  This is just my personal dislike of screen tone in general and it probably wouldn’t bother most readers.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

This book starts with an interesting history lesson, not the execution but the idea of multiple pages of nothing but text.  This may be the first time I have seen a graphic novel start with eight pages of text before the art panels and the real story begins.  I understand where Knaak is coming from and his reasoning for writing the prelude section, but it isn’t needed.  I could have never seen it and been perfectly fine with the story and how things play out.  Actually, I think the prelude did nothing more for the story than annoy me and ultimately confuse me with numerous names that I really didn’t need to know about.  Not Knaak’s best writing.

Things fall in place and start moving along normally once the art and main story gets underway.  Kalec is a blue dragon sent out by his dragon liege to find a mysterious magic pulse in the world.  The world is in the midst of a war between the living and the dead, or the Scourge, so any powerful magic source could swing either side to victory. 

During his search, Kalec meets the human Anveena and finds himself in her debt after a battle with dragon hunters and the Scourge.  They barely escape a certain death, but both are trapped by magical collars that allow the dastardly dark elf Dar’Khan to control them when in close proximity.  An even bigger problem is that the collar negates Kalec’s ability to return to dragon form, trapping him in his elf form.  Luckily, Kalec’s lover appears and uses her dragon form to fly them to a village with a mysterious man, Borel, that may be able to help them.

Kalec feels a strong loyalty to Anveena for her help, and his lover, Tyri, should be jealous.  Throw in a rugged human warrior, Jorad, with an eye for Tyri and we should have an interesting love square bouncing around throughout the story.  Unfortunately, nothing ever comes of this and it is a major weakness in this story.  The conflict between the living and the Scourge is on the surface at all times and an inner struggle between the companions would have added a nice layer.

Eventually, the four companions team up with a dwarf, who has a cousin that can remove the collars trapping Kalec and Anveena.  With the RPG band of brothers, a dwarf, humans, and dragons on their way, the story feels like it has hit full stride.  Their travels to remove the collars find them dodging the Scourge, Dar’Khan, and elves that no longer trust outsiders.  It all plays along like a standard adventure quest with predictable out comes.  However, I do appreciate the idea of the Scourge being undead zombies working as a force to kill every living creature for their masters. 

Eventually all the sides converge where the current war began, in the land of the elves.  The dark elf Dar’Khan has returned to the place where he betrayed not only his race, but all living creatures.  Anveena may be more than she appears and the surviving elves want to tear Dar’Khan to pieces.  The final battle ensues with predictable outcomes.

In Summary:

I came into this book with no prior knowledge of the Warcraft world or any of its characters.  However, I am a fan of Knaak’s fantasy writing and Kim’s art.  I thought this would be an interesting introduction to the Warcraft world and it did prove to be that.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find the ‘world’ all that fascinating and at times I felt like Knaak might have been pinned in by an existing universe/characters and the overall shortness of the story made it impossible for much character development.  That also led to the inevitable position that I didn’t have any attachment to the characters.  Sadly, I did not really care who died or which side won.

This ‘Ultimate Edition’ includes all three volumes of the graphic novel series in this ‘Sunwell’ story.  By the end of the first third of the book I had a good idea what was going to happen and how.  Unfortunately, I was not proven incorrect.  After an all too heavy handed introduction describing eons of history, the story played out all too predictably.  Again, I’m not familiar with the Warcraft world, so I don’t know if this is a side universe or if this story and characters exist in the game.  If they exist in the game and I was familiar with them, then I might have enjoyed this much more than I did.

Western fantasy author meets Korean comic artist, giving birth to a cool melding of the contents, unfortunately the story is mediocre.


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