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‘Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon: Dragonvine’ - Advance Trade Paperback Review

How to Train Your Dragon has been one of my favorite animated film series of the last few decades. It struck me immediately on a lot of different levels. It didn’t hurt that Toothless, the star dragon of the series, looked exactly like my cat. In fact, that was the point: The creators and animators wanted the dragon to resemble and act like pets that we recognize. The themes of not letting your fear guide how you view the world and learning to work together were handled in such an effective way. Seeing Hiccup (the hero of the story) basically become one with Toothless by the end was emotionally satisfying in a way few other stories have affected me. The flying scenes brought tears to my eyes.

I have yet to watch the Netflix series, but with a new How to Train Your Dragon movie on the way, I’m once again thrilled to join Hiccup, Toothless, and company on another adventure. So, of course I would review a comic that takes place after the second film and that promises to help set up the third film. Dragonvine introduces a new race of dragon; this new species adds something unique to dragon mythology from everything I’ve seen. It also introduces a new clan of people who are tied to this new dragon species. The mystery is slowly uncovered as Hiccup, Astrid, and the others try to stay one step ahead of the dangers they find themselves in.

It’s a fun story that young adults or fans of the film will enjoy. At times, it’s a bit clunky; the emotional moments are somewhat inauthentic and forced in such a short format, and aside from introducing the new species of dragon, it misses some opportunities to dig deeper into the characters and their relationships. It would have been nice to take the opportunity to develop some of the supporting characters a little more. The big thing is that it’s hard to experience the sense of visceral joy that the films bring on the page. In many regards, it’s not that this comic is lacking anything - it’s well plotted, there’s humor, and there’s a really nice flashback between Astrid and Hiccup’s parents - but the biggest hurdle is that the experience of the films are so singular in how they are represented in the movie theatre. If the next film is to be the main course, this was a decent appetizer.

Creative Team: Dean DeBlois and Richard Hamilton (story), Doug Wheatley, Francisco de la Fuente (artist), Wes Dzioba (colors), Nate Piekos of Blambot and Michael Heisler (letters), Lucas Marangon (cover artist)
Publisher: Dark Horse
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