The care that Dark Horse puts into these hardcover Library Editions is marvelous. Upon opening this sprawling, 440-page book, it will immediately scream at you, “I am important.” If you have not kept up with a series, but have always wanted to dive deeply into its murky bog, I recommend these collections. They are big, bold, beautiful, and full of bonus content that is ripe with meaningfulness. The Witcher Library Edition Vol. 1 is no exception.
The book contains the first three volumes of The Witcher, all written by the multiple Eisner Award-winning author Paul Tobin (House of Glass, Fox Children, and Curse of Crows). The first two volumes are drawn by Joe Querio, and the third volume is handled by Piotr Kowalski. The talent on this book rears its tasty head at every turn of stunning visual storytelling and intelligently constructed narratives, with quippy dialogue to boot.
Most of the time, video game content that exists anywhere outside of the actual game is hilariously misrepresented, almost as a rule. Sometimes, comic books can churn out some passable companion pieces (Sonic, Mega Man, Street Fighter, etc.), but, for the most part, we’re talking bad stuff. Stuff that makes you embarrassed to be associated with it. Stuff that will make you turn on your own beloved franchises. This is not that. The Witcher is good stuff. Maybe it’s because The Witcher is already based on a popular book, or maybe it’s because The Witcher translates easily to a tellable “regular” story. Either way, this book is a fantasy-filled romp that has a great sense of humor. It can exist alongside, or without, it’s award-winning video game counterpart. One does not hinder the other, but rather they embolden each other like Kelsey Grammer’s character in Cheers emboldens his character in Frasier.
The series follows Geralt, a savage expert in the art of fighting and killing all of the bad, evil, nasty, yucky, and grotesque monsters, so you don’t have to. He runs into friends and foes alike. His hair is white. His eyes are yellow. His sword is sharp. His status is ready - ready, that is, to fight for farmland justice. As a main character, he is chalk full of depth. What I like about Geralt is that he is a real character, not an audience surrogate, and not a silent/stoic protagonist. He has a much appreciated point of view, and the story benefits exponentially.
As mentioned before, the art changes from volume 2 to volume 3. It still looks very Witcher-esque after the change; however, things really brighten up under Kowalski’s regime. I personally prefer the Joe Querio portion of the book, as it looks handcrafted and less digitally manipulated. Again, they both look great, but Kowalski’s clean look seems to be inspired more from the look of the game, while Querio maintains his own interpretation, thus drawing a deeper line between game and book.
This is the first piece of work I have ever read by Paul Tobin. I really dig his style. Again, a sense of humor goes a long way, especially in self-serious fantasy books. I am remembering Tolkien’s dwarf character Gimli, for reference. He was well balanced, funny, and full of personality. This “personality” helped Lord of the Rings feel alive rather than stale, and the same can be said for The Witcher.
This is a big recommend. The Witcher is different enough from other books, and it’s also different enough from other fantasy genre stories. The Library Collection is full of extra goodies to keep you busy for a while. If you are interested, or ever were interested in fantasy-horror, then you will want to pick this up immediately. Geralt does not sit idly by.
Creative Team: Paul Tobin (writer), Joe Querio (art), Piotr Kowalski (art)
Publisher: Dark Horse
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