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ADVANCE REVIEW: Dragon Age: Magekillers #1

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by Greg Rucka, Carmen Carnero, Terry Pallot & Michael Atiyeh

All creators have a task on their hand when having to introduce readers to a brand new world. When that world has been created outside of comics, those working on the title have a very different challenge. Here, the creators have to balance an audience of newcomers as well as fans of the Dragon Age property, while telling a new story within that universe. If Magekillers #1 is any indication of the capability of this creative team, then readers are in for a treat.

It is hard to separate the story on display in this first issue and the character of Tessa. The book’s leading female is also the narrator for Magekillers #1 and a majority of the tale here is told through her commentary. There is a point at which it seems possible that the book might not have anything actually spoken between characters in the story, instead having all of the information conveyed through Tessa’s exposition. While that can be a sour mark for most books, it is quite the opposite here. Rucka is no stranger to the craft, and his writing prowess is on display here, presenting the audience with a brand new character that is instantly likable and engaging. As readers navigate this new world, filled with magic, mages, and mystery, Tessa is there to add her own very charming filter to it.

Magekillers #1 brings readers into its world right in the midst of a job for Tessa and her partner, Marius. The two are mercenaries, contracted to rid the world of dangerous mages. It is an excellent way to let the world speak for itself, throwing the audience right into the universe. It also allows the encounter to be framed as routine, giving some sense of what normalcy looks like for the story’s leads. Rucka’s approach to the script avoids any notion of heaviness here, keeping the story from feeling weighed down. Instead, Tessa’s voice provides a sense of near-comedy to the story, and the entire issue feels fun as a result. It is not until beyond the halfway point that readers witness any character speaking. And though very little needs to be said to really understand Marius, the sequence here is an excellent depiction of the other lead.

From the very start, Magekillers #1 matches its art impressively to its writing. The pencils from Carmen Carnero are wonderful throughout. The entire issue feels like a grand adventure with such a rich visual element. From the design of the story’s leads to the kinetic action pieces, there is a real attention and care on display from this art team. Carnero, with Terry Pallot, are able to communicate so much information in the physicality of these characters and how they interact with this universe. Likewise, Michael Atiyeh’s colors are rather beautiful, shifting from cold and sinister during their battle to much warmer as the story refocuses on a bustling town. With the expectation of various fantastical lands and beings, the art team have certainly proven their capabilities here.

Crafting a story that aims to reach both the familiar and unfamiliar as is the case with Dragon Age: Magekillers can lead to some disjointed storytelling. Here, the creative team has shown no signs of wavering, and the first issue introduces readers to very engaging lead characters and a story that has real urgency. There should be no hesitation, then, to giving this new series a chance.

Dragon Age: MageKillers #1 will be released on December 16th, 2015

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