Comic: Dark Souls: The Breath of Andolus #01

It really isn’t a surprise to find out that famous gaming franchise like Dark Souls has its own comic adaptation – nowadays most of the big ones do – but my usual curiosity for such a thing was mixed with a healthy dose of scepticism when approaching this first issue written by George Mann, with illustrations by Alan Quah and published by Titan Comics.

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And why scepticism you ask? Well, although we have to recognize that the Dark Souls universe has a very rich historical and mythological background to work from, there’s no doubt that what brought the game into the spotlight was its merciless and extremely challenging gameplay – both the countless in-game hours and virtual ink rivers that have been spent on this are more than enough proof –  an experience that, in my humble opinion, can’t be faithfully transmitted through paper and still images. Nonetheless, as I’ve said many times, expanded material and alternative story lines to feed our hunger for details are something always welcomed, no reason at all to cast it aside as soon as you lay eyes on it.

First things first, although taking place in the Dark Souls universe the story of “The Breath of Andolus” isn’t linked to any of the games and has its own original characters and setting. It begins during the Age of Fire, with a flashback describing how the undying curse has spread across Ishra and how Baron Karamas, a human lord, first fought against the hordes of undead, containing their advance upon civilization, and later sought and killed the Wyrm King Andolus when he too became afflicted with the curse… dooming the rest of mankind along the way since it was Andolus breath that kept the Sacred Flame lit (not the smartest thing to do if you ask me XP he should have thought it through a second time). After the introduction and the whole world dooming thing we proceed to join Fira, a fierce and strong knight with a very tragic past (and a very adequate name for a hero in a dark world XP), and the scryer Aldrich who set out on a quest to search for the tooth of Andolus, a powerful relic that can be used to return the world to its proper state and save its people… and that’s all I’m telling you about it XPP I know it can be a real tease this way but there’s no need to spoil the fun any further in case any you pick the comic in the future.

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Well, the story itself is told in a very rapid pace with continuous actions taking place (either exploration or battle) using the dialogue between the main characters as a way  to expose any relevant info or backstory but, unfortunately, we see it all developing in a very linear and somewhat predictable way (yes, I do know they only have so many pages to work with and can’t fit everything in there but it just seems too bare in “side paths”, character and world building for my taste). As for the artwork, in technical terms there’s very little to point at since its drawn in a strong and clear style, ripe with excellent details and featuring a lively colour palette but that same solid combination, that would’ve been a plus elsewhere, works against this very comic since it fails to match the overall feel of the original material.

Usually I’m not this harsh on what I read and having pre-built ideas and expectations surely doesn’t help but the thing here is that we can feel the latent potential for a great story with strong and memorable characters that just doesn’t happen, instead ending up as an average tale that anyone we’ll read once and never pick up again. Truly a shame…

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