April 25, 2012
A dwarf, a mage, and a swordsman walk into a tavern…
Twice Blessed (written by Michael Haneline and drawn by Genevieve Gauss) is the tale of a small fantasy adventuring party, consisting of bumbling (if occasionally lucky and talented) swordsman Cade Masters (Yes, with a name like that, I’d expect failure too), a Dwarven fighter named Vadim (who it would seem takes a different stance on Dwarves by being noticeably Russian rather than Scottish), and a very tremendously irked mage by the name of Melchior (who may best be described as the comic’s straight man). Also ostensibly along for the ride is Delbin Black, intent on fiercely violating Cade’s capacity to continue living (and, to be fair, many people are), but she/he hasn’t been formally introduced as yet and appears only on the About page.
Twice Blessed (I’d shorten it to TB, but that has less…attractive…connotations) is set in an alternate universe of medieval Europe, wherein France is replaced by “Someil”, Russia with “Ustav”, England with “Caisleain”, and so on and so forth, along with the sprinklings of different races (a great multitude of which have already appeared) drawn straight from the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. Magic, naturally, abounds and it’s difficult for an old-hat dungeon master like me to read the pages without immediately and unerringly identifying all the magic items and spells being thrown around.
In terms of writing, the comic is pretty passable. Looking at things through the lens of over a decade of dealing with roleplaying groups it’s hard for me to not see things coming, but the humour is sound, the plot sound, and I’m certainly having trouble finding severe downfalls. The Russian Dwarf is an interesting tweak to the standard interpretation and his commentary on events through a thick accent, whilst not unusual, takes a nice twist that way. Thus far, the comic has managed two chapters in 58 pages (albeit with more than a few guest and filler pages, some from authors familiar to Remember’s feature archives), and the party has managed to land an adventure hook and get invited to a mansion. Admittedly not the kind of hook I’d write (I more prefer foul things afoot than people literally running up and yelling their problems), but a classical hook indeed.
Artistically is where I have somewhat mixed feelings here. It’s not bad artwork, the characters are all easily distinguished and consistent, and expressions (facial and otherwise) are all drawn with the kind of clarity I might attribute to an aging Disney film (Melchior in particular shares certain sneers with Roger Radcliffe of the 1961 animated 101 Dalmations movie). However, whilst these qualities all ear-mark it as high-level proficiency, everything just looks so very bland. The facial expressions make nearly every character look tremendously out of place in a world where most backgrounds are a brief series of matte colour polygons.
This problem shows more tellingly in the first chapter, the second has much more suiting backgrounds and character apparel is rendered with more detail, though this may be due to it having thus far largely transpired within the walls of a mansion. It’s this glaring inconsistency between the loving attention to facial expressions and virtually all else that sends my artistic clusters of grey matter fuming, but overall it’s really not a bad view.
It’s still early days despite the ~60 pages released and the artistic issues will hopefully be sorted in short order. Meanwhile, Twice Blessed is worth checking out for the odd chuckle and the healthy dose of foreshadowing that only a Dungeons & Dragons comic can deliver, updating Thursdays and Sundays with the odd bonus update.