Back in February, Dark Horse comics ran a digital exclusive comic dedicated to the Dragon Age series of video games. The title, Dragon Age: The Silent Grove, ran shivers up my spine when I first heard about it. What I didn’t hear first was the fact that the comic was, in fact, digital exclusive. That’s fine for anyone willing to read digital comics. I for one do not. I’ve always been a collector, I love to have the real thing in my grasp. So needless to say, a comic about my absolute favorite video game franchise of all time that I couldn’t get my hands on, made me mad. Luckily Dark Horse decided that all 6 digital issues of The Silent Grove would be collected in a hardcover trade. That hardcover shipped to comic shops on July 25th. And the end of the Silent Grove is where Dragon Age: Those Who Speak brings us.
I have to start out by saying one thing. The impact of the Dragon Age comics is much better on those who have played the video games. David Gaider, lead writer of the entire DA universe, has written an expansive world in Dragon Age. Whether it’s Dragon Age: Origins, Awakening, Dragon Age 2, or the 3 DA novels, which were fantastic, by the way, Gaider hits the nail on the head every time. Something the previous Dragon Age comic, not written by Gaider, failed to do. So, I tell you all of this because if you haven’t played the game you may find yourself a bit lost. But if you are interested in the Dragon Age franchise this is as good of a place to start as any.
As I just raved about, Gaider writes amazing characters, and amazing fantasy. The story is rich, funny, sexy, and suspenseful. It only makes perfect sense to have Gaider write the Dragon Age comics, he wrote the characters, he wrote the world, he knows it better than anyone. And I can say he and Alexander Freed have done a flawless job writing the story of king Alistair joined up with the pirate Isabela and the and the witty dwarf who named his crossbow, Varric.
As we were left off in the Silent grove, Those who speak is following the trio’s journey in the land of Tevinter to find and kill the man who murdered Alistair’s father. An epic, bloody battle between the three and a host of cult mages ensues. The chase is on when the our heroes find themselves aboard their ship in a battle with the horned giant race, the Qunari. The action scenes and the interactions of the characters are spot on. It never skips a beat where many comics like this fall short.
The art by Chad Hardin is very clean and professional. You always know who is who and what is what. The action sequences and the blood and magic spell’s portrayal is top notch. Facial expressions are good, and where facial recognition is key, the art soars. But, it really isn’t anything to write home about. Yes, it is exceptional. It is very clean and well done, but it isn’t anything overtly spectacular. Just sayin’.
All in all, to a Dragon Age fan, Dragon Age: Those Who Speak is a must read. I haven’t read a whole lot of dark fantasy comics that work. None that really make sense and flow naturally. This comic does it all. If you’re not a fan already, I suggest hoping on board with The Silent Grove first, available everywhere.
Follow Tommy Lutz on Twitter @thecomicblog.