Dungeons & Dragons: Evil at Baldur's Gate #1 Part One: Minsc the Mighty // Review
The Baldur's Gate series of games is arguably one of the most popular role playing games of all time, with many spin-offs, sequels, novels, and even comics to add to the franchise. Like many fantasy worlds, it can become more than a little overwhelming. But when a new comic comes along, does someone need to have extensive knowledge of a franchise before trying out a new book? Not necessarily.
Writer Jim Zub, with the artists Dean Kotz and Stefani Rennee do their best to make a fully fleshed-out world, and one that’s intended for fans of the franchise while still being enjoyable for those new to it. The book in no way suffers if the reader lacks knowledge and feels like picking up a long-running DC or Marvel comic because of it.
Opening with some flavor text, Zub describes the Lower City of Baldur’s Gate. He does a solid job of firing up the imagination, like a session of D&D under a clever dungeon master can do. The story also introduces the focal character, Minsc the Ranger, a bald and purple-painted man engaged in swordplay with a blue Oni. This isn’t an ordinary fight, as Minsc’s… attack hamster leaps into the Oni’s face and takes a solid bite.
Boo, the miniature giant Space Hamster. Truly, this is a comic filled with wonders.
The story winds back three hours, showing Minsc and his companions entering the city of Baldur's Gate for the first time in quite a while. The story establishes that his traveling companions are decidedly more normal, but go almost unnamed in this comic. Their personalities shine through, but the real focus is Minsc the Ranger.
Apparently, Minsc is one of the most popular characters to come out of the Baldur's Gate franchise, and it’s easy to see why. There’s a layer of delusion on the character’s dialogue that actually has a real charm to it, and his facial expressions in the art give a genuine feel that he means every word he says. In a world where fantasy works tend to be more serious, Minsc becomes a breath of fresh air, even if he’s been around for decades.
With all of his companions lying low and performing their own sidequests, Minsc ventures out to explore his old stomping grounds and seeks evil to vanquish. Coming across the foul-smelling Gibbering Gizzard pub, he heads inside to pick up a quest or two. What Minsc finds is the glorious Krigar the Courageous, who claims that justice comes quick with those who mess with him. While Minsc introduces himself to Krigar, a random dwarf falls into the bar, proclaiming brigands known as The Blades of Burgust have returned. Krigar charges out, spurning Minsc’s attempts to party up, by claiming he battles alone.
Not taking no for an answer (or possibly not realizing it’s a no), Minsc takes this spurning for a test of his courage and loyalty. Capering across the rooftops of Lower City like a medieval purple Batman, Minsc comes across the battle between the Blades and Krigar, only for chaos to ensue once the Oni from the opening reveals itself.
A wonderful battle erupts, and Minsc comes to find himself with a new archenemy!
As if it wasn’t obvious, this book is a delight. Lighthearted sword and sorcery is always welcome in a business filled with capes and serious heroes, and this book delivers hard. Zub does a great job giving Minsc life without making him an object of ridicule. The character of Krigar is also fascinating, and an eventual showdown between him and Minsc seems to be brewing. Kotz’s art is great here, with fantastic detail and solid expressions for everyone involved. Special mention has to go to the fight between Minsc and the Oni, which feels like a well-planned battle out of someone’s D&D session. The colors from Rennee also compliment the art well, providing literally colorful characters in a world that is dirty and dingy.
Even if the reader only knows Baldur’s Gate as a video game people played years ago, this book plays well to both new readers and old fans alike. It doesn’t take an encyclopedic knowledge of a monster manual to enjoy this book, and is certainly worth flipping through for the miniature giant space hamster alone.