It was sometime after the announcement from CD Projekt RED that they were developing The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings game in 2009 that I learned that the game was based on stories written by a Polish economist, Andrzej Sapkowski. I went hunting for the novels since I was curious about this new character named Geralt of Rivia, a mutant hunter earning coin by killing monsters as he traveled the world. What made Geralt so appealing as a protagonist was his ethical stance in spite of his detached nature towards others.
The Witcher Volume 2: Fox Children is from Dark Horse, collecting issues one through five, and is the follow-up story arc to The Witcher Volume 1: House of Glass (2014). Writer Paul Tobin, artist Joe Querio, colors by Carlos Badilla, and Nate Piekos of Blambot for lettering all return for this second volume. Julian Totino Tedesco rounds out the creative team with cover art. In this story arc, Geralt and Addario, his dwarf traveling companion, run into a group of men looking to rescue a daughter from their village who is kidnapped by a she-fox changeling. Geralt, who is well versed with the bestiary of the land, advises giving the Vulpess a wide berth and giving up their mission; however, events unfold and lead to a deadly adventure.
In reading this volume, I brought with me my experiences of having read Sapkowski’s The Last Wish and from currently playing Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. With those stories already residing in my mind, I thoroughly enjoyed Tobin’s interpretation of Geralt, his interaction with others, and his world at large. I thought Tobin captured the original source materials of the novels and the video games and created a spirited adventure that, in return, dovetails and expands the growing canon of this fascinating IP. In particular, I liked that Tobin wrote instances that allowed for Geralt to show a bit more of his dry humor, which counter-balanced the heavier themes further into the tale. Bonus material included an interview with Tobin and Borys Pugacz-Muraszkiewicz, the lead writer at CD Projekt RED.
Querio’s art style is fast paced, as he has focused on the primary details in visualizing Tobin’s story,, hence the main focus of each panel is fully drawn, while secondary and background features are minimal. That said, some of his establishing shots were exquisitely composed and executed, reminiscent of paintings of sailing ships when maritime themes were in vogue. Badilla adds muted colors with a balance of shading throughout the pages, which complements and heightens Querio’s illustrations. The color choices, especially the blue and green hues, represent Geralt’s world well and at no time does Badilla’s choices jar or seem out of place with the overall mood and tone of the story. Piekos’ lettering excels at making all of the text easy to read. He spaces the text cleanly in the speech bubbles, and the words do not feel crowded or rushed. Totino Tedesco’s choice of composition of the characters on the cover engages the reader’s gaze, and he captures the essence of the story arc of the volume.
The Witcher Volume 2: Fox Children is a welcome follow up to the first volume and will be an enjoyable read for followers of this IP. That said, this is a standalone story, so new readers can pick up this second volume and not feel lost or feel they need to know anything about Geralt and his adventures prior to reading this story.