From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—When adapting a video game that can be little more than the grind of encountering monsters and fighting them, it is a natural choice to have the fight scene be central to the structure of the story. This volume focuses on the arena battles of a trio of unlikely allies: an amnesiac human initially nicknamed Croc Bait and a pair of elves whose historical tribal rivalry is overlooked—for the moment. It's all very flush with well-intentioned pathos and world-building, but undercut in two key areas. Firstly, in order to create some epic scale, Croc Bait is given fabulous combat skills beyond reckoning, which makes every fight scene superfluous and which treads dully on well-trod ground. But, more importantly, the artwork is uncommunicative. While spot-lit with vista designed to evoke the wide world of the game, it has overly energetic action and characters seemingly capable of expressing only grim resolve and fierce rage. The dialogue and narration both gamely try to provide detail and expression that the art cannot, but only further serve to highlight the divide and make each seem stiff and detached. Unlikely to appeal even to ardent gamers.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
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The most popular MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game) ever has spawned board games, strategy games, a collectible card game and, now, a comic book. Collected here are the first seven issues, the writing handled by industry veteran Simonson, whose legendary run with Thor prepared him for hard-bitten warriors and medieval battles. And, man, are there battles: in the sky, on land, under water, in arenas, in caves, even in giant spider webs. Ostensibly about an amnesiac killing machine, a sort of sword-and-sorcery Jason Bourne, who’s sold into gladiatorial slavery and then escapes with his companions to unravel his own past, the story also serves to reference the history, character classes, places, and events from the game. And to stage the aforementioned battles. Excepting some well-conceived locations, the art is yet another unextraordinary variation on the manga-toon style, which carries little weight, but renders fights relatively bloodless. However, the heroes are ultra-competent and the mythology intricate enough that it will appeal to even those few boys who are not familiar with the game. Grades 6-10. --Jesse Karp
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