The library is a great place for readers to discover comics, and it’s a great place for comics readers to check out things that they want to try without spending their hard-earned cash. I’m looking at comics that I find in the New York Public Library system.
I should admit one thing up front: literally every shred of previous information I’ve acquired about the computer game World of Warcraft has been gleaned from an episode of South Park. I say this because readers familiar with the game will likely take something completely different from this book than I did. For me, when you consider that Walter Simonson’s work on Thor and Orion is just about the pinnacle of superhero comics in my eyes, the potential attraction of the World of Warcraft comics should be obvious, but it’s not due to any attraction to the game.
Alas, despite a few teases of a greater mythology, World of Warcraft seems to be a marginal fantasy comic going through the motions. Penciller Ludo Lullabi does Simonson no favors, with action sequences that often difficult to follow and characters too often likely to scream or gnash their teeth in every circumstance.
Nevertheless, Simonson is not on top of his game here. Rather than building a mythology and universe, every time the chance comes to explore the structure of the WoW universe, Simonson opts to throw the characters into another battle. In fact, they get into so many fights that it becomes a point of reference even to the characters themselves in the final chapter! Disparate factions of the WoW universe are met in brief bursts, but before we can get a coherent sense of the connections between these cultures or how they lives their lives, it’s fight! fight! fight! and we’re off on another quest. Even the dialogue doesn’t have Simonson’s usual snap.
Now, again, fans of the game (where, I assume, the back story is filled out?) or fans of quest-based fantasy in general may take something completely different from this comic than I did, but I’m comparing this to previous Walt Simonson titles where the nuances of new universes were built up over a succession of encounters with Frost Giants or Darkseid’s lieutenants, and World of Warcraft is lacking in comparison.
Also, I imagine it’s not just me, but isn’t it strange that Lo’gosh is three times as thick on the covers as he is in Lullabi’s pages. Weird. So, anyway, big picture here, it has a huge brand, but I wouldn’t expect that many readers or gamers are likely to find the first collected comic book edition of World of Warcraft a satisfying title whether they find it in the library or elsewhere.