Review: Dungeons & Dragons A Darkened Wish #1

A Darkened Wish #1

  • Written by: B. Dave Walters
  • Art by: Tess Fowler
  • Colors by: Jay Fotos
  • Lettering by: Tom B. Long
  • Published by IDW

Dungeons & Dragons has a rich and deep comic book history. Combining the much beloved game with a concrete medium such as comic books can be a challenge. Comic books don’t reflect the collective storytelling at the table top, the randomness of a dice roll, or the creative process of building a character. However, it allows a group of artists to add their talent to depict the legendary locales, characters, and verisimilitude of Dungeons & Dragons. A Darkened Wish adds to this deep history of D&D comic books and opens the door for inclusive, hearty, and thrilling storytelling that jives with Wizards of the Coast’s vision for their IP.

A Darkened Wish follows the story of Helene, a young wizard from the Moonshae Isles, who has a severe case of wanderlust. She aims to join the White Sails Company with her childhood friends, Aiden and Xander. On the way to Mintarn to take part in the recruitment process, they meet several other potential adventurers and face their first real taste of the dangers ahead once they’re ashore.

If you’re a fan of characters, there are plenty to become fans of in A Darkened Wish. Along with Helene, Aiden, and Xander, you’ll meet Rayonde the Dragonborn and his pair of friends Kerrin and Karrin. There is also Solivigant, the daring Kenku rogue. Kenku are an interesting race, as they only speak in phrases and voices they’ve heard before, making their dialogue limited but poignant. My only concern with character development is how rushed it seems. However, it becomes a necessary evil when the series is only slated for five issues. Still, fans of the book will inevitably latch onto their favorite character quickly.

The non-binary twins are just the first example of the much appreciated effort by B. Dave Walters to include characters that are usually not represented in comic books. He has dedicated his professional life to inclusive storytelling, appearing on several RPG shows for the Geek & Sundry and Hyper RPG Twitch channels, and that dedication is definitely reflected in A Darkened Wish.

Walter’s writing is crisp and emotive, giving the reader plenty of verbal prompts to piece together the hurried character development. Readers will not get lost as to how each of the characters relate to each other. Giving the twins the verbal tick of finishing each other’s sentences gives the reader a hint as to just how close they are on every level. He also cleverly uses Solivigant’s dialogue as a tool of foreshadowing, avoiding a pitfall that normally occurs with a character that only mimics what they hear.

Tess Fowler’s art brings the Moonshae Isles to life in her slightly surreal and incredibly detailed way. Her attention to every nook and cranny of a scene may make a panel seem crowded, but there is plenty there for your eyes to take in and you should take it all in. Fowler is a lifelong D&D fan and a beloved Critter (the nickname for us fans of Critical Role) and she has declared this project a dream job numerous times. As a side note, I spent most of my time with the issue looking in the background hunting for Critical Role Easter eggs. By the way, you cannot tell me this is not a self-insert of a young Tess, Ms. Fowler.

While Fowler didn’t do the colors for her art, Jay Fotos brilliantly made every line of art pop with his choice of colors. The rich shades and hues makes the Moonshaes feel properly fantastical, eerie, and foreboding. Players of D&D surely have imagined Faerun with a very similar color palette during their home games.

Despite the hurried plot and development, A Darkened Wish #1 is a solid foundation for the miniseries. It gives each member of the party enough page time to establish relationships and presents a twist on a common first challenge to the party that many D&D players will appreciate. I am eager to see the next issue and I hope if this series is successful, IDW will greenlight a few more issues.

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