Review – Dragon Age: The Silent Grove #1

Publisher: Dark Horse Digital
Release Date: February 22, 2012
Writers: Alexander Freed (script), David Gaider (story)
Artist: Chad Hardin
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Anthony Palumbo
Genres: Video Games, Fantasy
Price: $0.99

Straight from David Gaider, the lead writer of BioWare’s Dragon Age games, Dragon Age: The Silent Grove is an original six-part story that is available exclusively through Dark Horse Digital (with the trade being available hardcopy at the end of the story’s single issue run). King Alistair Therein is investigating a rumor big and personal enough to investigate it himself. Mercenaries Isabela and Varric join him on his dangerous quest to Antiva “to learn the truth about his kingdom and his own reign”.

In the description for this comic on the Dark Horse site, it states that this series will be “an essential addition to the Dragon Age canon”, so I don’t think it’s going too far out on a limb to assume this was created with the already established Dragon Age fan base in mind. The Dragon Age fandom is large and always seems to be on the look out for more official content that’s a continuation of the stories from Thedas. I liked the games well enough, and I especially enjoyed these three characters in game. That being said, I may not be the target audience for this title since I wouldn’t consider myself in the fandom. I found this comic to be pretty boring as far as first issues go. Which amazed me considering Isabela and Varric are arguably the two most entertaining and lively characters from Dragon Age 2.

The story jumps right into Alistair, Isabela and Varric already in Antiva looking into this mysterious rumor about… something that Alistair thinks is important enough to leave his kingdom under cover in the company of rogues to investigate himself. There’s a little action. There’s some great banter between Isabela and Varric (I particularly enjoyed the disarming traps sequence between the two). There’s a lot of talking (a lot of talking) and inner monologuing. I still don’t know what this is about.

First issues always seem to be the deal maker/breaker for me when it comes to comics. If it doesn’t grab my fascination in issue number 1, the likelihood of my coming back are slim to none, and that isn’t exactly fair to the title. I know this. They’ve got a limited amount of pages (14 in this case) to get the audience on a hook that they won’t mind being on for a month when the next issue comes out. It’s even harder when you’re working on a miniseries where you only have a set number of issues to tell a complete story. Pacing is crucial in these instances, maybe even more so than with on-going series. This issue just left me with questions that I don’t really care about finding out the answers to because I wasn’t given a reason to care beyond the assumed connection I should have for these characters from having played the games. Beyond that type of connection, there really wasn’t a reason to care about this trio or anything revealed about them that a reader could connect to. Again, I really liked these three characters in game but here I don’t know why the three of them would be working together at all here (beyond the assumption that Alistair was king at the end of my Dragon Age: Origins play through and able to carry over into Dragon Age 2, or that he was with my Warden when she/he met Isabela in DAO). I guess the “canon” of a game with multiple endings and storylines is whichever one the head writer on the games picks?

That isn’t to say this is a “bad” comic. It’s setting up a story that I’m fairly sure bigger fans of the source material than I will be excited by. I’m just not sure how many new eyes or “fringe” fans it will bring into the Dragon Age world in either medium (comics or games).