I recall the late 90s and early 2000s when fantasy video games were coming out every year that appeared to seemingly dwarf the previous releases of the year before. Diablo, Baldurs Gate and Ice Wind Dale were released to good reviews and more importantly they were being played by people who had no idea what D&D or pen and paper RPGs were. A new generation of RPG fan and player was ushered into the fold thanks to technology and globalization. RPG games were being played in lan parties and online with Battlenet and other services growing the genres popularity and access. At that time Dungeons & Dragons had changed ownership and its future was in the hands of Wizardz of the Coast (now a subsidary of Hasbro) and in this time we also saw more suplimentary products for their big Intellectual Property which was Dungeons & Dragons. With Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 coming out in 2000 it would seem that the publishers managed to get all their ducks in a row as RPGs both tabletop and their PC counterparts were in trend and the brand awareness was growing.
Lets step back into the early 10s after Dungeons & Dragons have been releasing comics sporadically while the novels were still selling strong with the drow ranger Drizzt becoming the unofficial mascot of D&D and the Forgotten Realms. With Wizards poised to release a new system (5th Edition) the last thing they could afford was a cold release. A cold release is when a company releases a product or service with little to minimal marketing and promotional efforts and after 4.5 was panned by critics and players alike and with Paizo building an empire on improving 3.5 WOTC wanted to make sure 5th Edition would not only make a splash but ride in on a tidal wave.
After Wizardz of the Coast wisely decided to announce playtesting in 2012 and openly let people participate in helping them craft the new system that at the time was still called D&D Next. By 2014 they released the basic rules for free on their website and by September players could purchase the first 3 core books and it was very well recieved. This ties in our review today as Legends of Baldurs Gate was released the same year as their system. I have to tip my hat to them as this move not only catered to fantasy comic fans, fans of their already popular settings but also any newcomers could also see the value in getting to know more about the lore of the setting through a comic. Let us not forget that the majority of younger gamers probably never played Baldurs Gate so this product could walk them through it and introduce them to what D&D was about without them having to buy an old game or do more research.
At the time I was still playing 3.5 and was reluctant to switch systems despite GMing sessions at Cons and at my friends game shop I was not onboard the 5E train but was still reading the novels and any comics I could get my hands on. When I was browsing Amazon I came across the comic and having played the PC game I was interested in reading a book that was revisiting the setting, serving as somewhat of a sequel to the game.
I placed my order and the quality seemed industry standard when it arrived, like most products published through IDW. The paperback collected 5 issues of the story and the cover art did resemble the style I was used to with their previous comics that they were printing during the 4th Edition run.
The story takes place ____ after the events that saved the people of Baldurs Gate. One of the legends Minsk, comes to life and as I like to avoid spoilers I will attempt to not give away too much in my critique of the book. The plot for the most part is nothing crazy or new but the cast of characters are interesting as you have a party come together through circumstance and have a united goal.
Jim Zubkavich and Max Dunbar deliver in this 5th Edition tie remaining as true as they could and bringing some darkness to all over storytelling. Jim himself coming off writing and working for big names just Capcom, Marvel, DC, Cartoon Network and Bandai-Namco so Wizardz chose a seasoned vet to oversee and be point on the project. Not to say Max Dunbar does not have a hefty resume including illustrating for big franchise IPs such as GI Joe, Gears of War and Judge Dredd so the talent and skills were never in question.
The characters play out like your typical party in a campaign but the twists in the plot and the pacing is done right so that someone new to the genre would not be overwhelmed. Baldurs Gate comes to life with Max Dunbar’s and Sarah Stone’s drawing styles while the dialogue and writing bring it all together in this enjoyable comic. This is a must read for anybody who loves fantasy comics and D&D especially if you are a newcomer and want to get to know the Forgotten Realms. These sort of comics are great to introduce people to the different roles in a party, to language that was spoken and even familiarizing themselves with key concepts and lore in Dungeons & Dragons.
I can warmly recommend this comic if you can find it at an affordable price. Looking now the paperback is selling for around 44$ on Amazon so try check Ebay and other book stores for a hardcopy. A decent gift for a teenager and adult and adds to any comic collection with lots of good images to draw inspiration from.
Please tell us what you think of Legends of Baldurs Gate Vol 1, do you agree with us or did you feel it was a crime against rainforrests. Let us know in the comment section or message us on social media. Til next time, quest strong and may your days be filled with adventure and joy.