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Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry : Review

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 A war is raging between the vampire forces of the Red Court and the White Council — a war that the wizards are losing.

So desperate are the Council that they’ve dragooned the experienced and the outcast to reinforce their thinning ranks of Wardens.

One of these draftees is one Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only wizard-for-hire and a guy who’s long been looked upon with suspicion by the supernatural authorities.

Now, he’s one of them, and his first big mission as a Warden is a doozy: take a small team of greenhorns to a frigid town in the middle of nowhere to rescue a handful of mortals who’ve been targeted by the Red Court.

The question is, why exactly are these particular mortals so crucial to the outcome of the war?

The answer will come only if Harry can keep them, and his team, alive for one very long night.

This graphic novel collects the critically acclaimed, five-issue series in one volume, and features a bonus section with Jim Butcher’s original story outline, sketchbook artwork from  Carlos Gomez, cover gallery with roughs from Stjepan Sejic, and more!  

There is no denying my love of the Dresden Files, anyone I know can and will say that I am a fanboy at times. I can’t really pinpoint exactly what it is about the series or author I enjoy so much. I just know that when I pick up any book in the series I’m unable to put it down again until I finish it, not matter how many times I’ve read it before. So add my love of the series to my long time fascination with comic books and it might be possible to get a glimpse of the excitement I felt when I first received this graphic novel.

War Cry by Jim Butcher takes place several months after the events of Dead Beat and covers the events only briefly mentioned in Proven Guilt. In this Dresden Files graphic novel we find Harry Dresden leading a group of rookie Wardens consisting of “Wild Bill”  Meyers, Yoshimo, and Carlos Ramirez on an emergency mission from the White Council. The mission, in typical Dresden fashion, is pretty much a catastrophe from the get-go. When you take a group of power hungry vampires, a Lovecraftian monster, and a group of powerful but inexperienced wizards and mix them all together interesting things are bound to happen.

This story managed to capture my attention as much as any of the books ever has and did a great job of answering some questions that reading Proven Guilty had left me with. If anyone has ever wondered just who the Venatori Umbrorum were, or why the Wardens in the district under Harry’s command respect him so much, they will know by the end of War Cry. We also get a good look at how and why Wardens like Ramirez and Meyers have to mature so fast and take on responsibilities long before they would normally be trusted with them. It is not a good time to be a wizard or a warden of the White Council.

I found the art from the graphic novel to be simply fantastic, the illustrators did such a good job in capturing that almost gritty feeling of the Dresden Files. While I enjoy comics and graphic novels, I don’t usually like them when they are based off of books I enjoy. I usually have a well defined picture in my head of what the characters all look like, and I usually judge someone else’s depictions of them harshly, but they were almost identical to how I pictured them here. Not to mention the biggest thing this graphic novel has going for it: Harry isn’t wearing a hat on the cover! I can’t describe the sense of joy I felt at something so simple as seeing Harry on a cover without that stupid hat.

While I think everyone would benefit from reading the books in the series before they tackle any of the comics or graphic novels, I don’t think it’s strictly necessary for War Cry. You get enough of a background story to figure out just what is going on, why it’s happening, and the laws that govern the magical world in general.  I know for a fact I will be picking up the physical copy of this book to add to my collection the day it releases.

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry will be release by Dynamite Entertainment on November 11th.

I received a free copy of this publication for an honest review.

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Review: Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting is a fairy tale graphic novel that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil, but about being a hero in your own home. The opening chapter tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun. 

Welcome, readers, to TAD’s first-ever review of a graphic novel: Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley. As you can probably tell, it’s a fantasy with a diverse cast of characters that takes place in an interesting setting.

The world it takes place in is…odd. It’s definitely Earth, because mentions are made of France and Italy, even though the main cast includes anthropomorphic horses and birds, demons, and giants. That’s fine, lots of fantasy stories with odd creatures take place on Earth. It takes place around the Renaissance era, but mentions ‘The Wizard of Oz’ series, which wasn’t published until 1900. That’s a little bit different; most fantasy series that take place on earth keep the timeline consistent. These odd things, though, are minimal and have little impact on the setting. Besides the odd things, the setting is nice and the creatures and races in it are interesting, which adds to the fun of the book.

The book isn’t driven by a central plotline, but more by the characters, and their pasts and interactions. For this reason, the cast is diverse and engaging, and there’s depths to explore with each character, especially Jain, the book’s main character, whose past comes out in small flashbacks through the book and its sequel.

The first book ends by explaining the background of Sister Peace, the bearded nun mentioned in the description. This is rather long and involved, taking several chapters to relate, and gets odd when Peace pauses in relating her own past to relate the past of another character who only shows up in Sister Peace’s background. For those who want to see the main cast again, this part of the story goes by a bit slowly; it doesn’t help that more time is devoted to this than to any other character’s background (Jain is an exception, but as her past only comes up as a single chapter every so often, it’s more manageable).

The art is nice and easily relates the character’s expressions and actions. The characters are drawn distinctly from each other so that they’re easy to tell apart. The dialogue and interplay between characters is fun and natural. The lack of continuing storyline makes Castle Waiting a convenient light read, and its varied cast makes it a fun one. Pick this up if you’re a fan of graphic novels for sure.

Overall rating: 4.5/5


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