Mania Grade: C
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- Art Rating: C+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Text/Translation Rating: C+
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 12.99
- Pages: 192
- ISBN: 978-1427814975
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
- Series: WarCraft
World of WarCraft: Mage
World of WarCraft: Mage Manga Review
By Kate O'Neil
June 18, 2010
Release Date: June 01, 2010
World of WarCraft: Mage
A young mage comes into his own while defending the floating city of Dalaran. Ding, grats, next dungeon, please.
Writer/Artist: Richard A. Knaak and Ryo Kawakami
What They Say
Aodan comes from a lineage that includes some of Azeroth’s most heroic paladins and warriors, but the whip-smart young man is not built for physical combat. He’s thin, bookish, and desperately wants to be a mage. After his controlling father forbids him to practice magic, Aodan flees to study the arcane arts in the city of Dalaran.
Aodhan’s dream of becoming a powerful spellcaster is violently interrupted when a host of blue dragons lays siege to Dalaran. Although far from home, the young mage finds help from a relative who has been close by all along - Crevan, his magic-wielding uncle. The cunning older mage, after escaping from Dalaran’s prison, takes the impressionable Aodhan under his wing, and together they work to prevent the city’s destruction. But there is a darker secret behind Dalaran’s dire situation, and Aodhan might be the only one who can end the schemes that threaten the city, becoming the hero his family never thought he could be.
Being one of Tokyopop’s recent releases, the book looks pretty good. The cover features Aodhan wielding a fire spell with Rhonin standing behind him with some blue dragons and the city as a back drop. The cover has a matt finish with a glossy overlay on the characters and title. The inks show a good gradation between the different shades of gray.
Ryo Kawakami’s art is a good balance of Warcraft’s signature style and his own. He has all the costumes and settings down, but skimps on the background details in many panels. The action is clear and easy to follow, with only a few moments in the final battle scene that could have used some clarification. My only real complaint with the text is the stylized font used for the narration boxes, which is okay most of the time except for a few words which are hard to read.
Tokyopop has thrown in a handful of extras at the end of the book. There’s an editor’s note and profiles of the author and artist, an interview with the author of the WoW Shaman manga offering a sneak peak at the character art, and a preview of WoW Shadow Wing manga.
It’s been a while since I’ve played World of Warcraft, and I must admit I was not an expert on the game’s lore or backstory. Since the events depicted in this story occur during the “Wrath of the Lich King” time period, current players will probably be far more familiar with the setting of the story. That being said, the book does a good job of filling the reader in on the pertinent details, and Warcraft knowledge isn’t necessary to understand the story. Warcraft is mostly based on standard fantasy tropes to begin with and, at the end of the day, most of the politics break down to Horde vs. Alliance.
Regrettably, but not surprisingly, the story doesn’t veer from the usual clichés. I knew exactly what was going to happen as soon as I read the lengthy summary on the back of the book. Maybe the author had to play it safe with a story that wouldn’t do anything to alter the ongoing game storyline. Working within these guidelines, the author and artist do a decent job of telling their story. There are a few creative moments I wish they’d done more with – when Aodhan becomes trapped in a book and is briefly two dimensional, for instance. Overall, there’s too much running around. Aodhan spends most of the volume running from attacks or rushing from location to location. Sure, the city is in chaos, but the venue changes feel forced.
I also have to address character designs. Aodhan, himself, isn’t a bad design, but I find it amusing that he’s described as “skinny” and he’s actually quite muscular. This isn’t so much a fault with the author but with the Warcraft designs, and it’s an amusing in-joke, whether the artist intended it or not. Crevan, though, is distracting and again it’s due to WoW’s notorious armor designs. Crevan wears huge pauldrons on his outfit – distracting, impractical, absurdly huge pauldrons. It’s hard to take Crevan seriously as a character wearing those. I have no idea if that particular gear exists in game; it probably does. But most of the other mages they show are not wearing armor, excluding those in command whose outfits are balanced a bit better.
“World of Warcraft: Mage” isn’t a bad story, it’s just one that we’ve all heard before. It sticks to its source and is loyal to its license. These events could have easily been a class quest in the game. Younger WoW fanatics, and aspiring fanatics, will probably enjoy it, but for everyone else there’s better fantasy to be had elsewhere.