IDW has released a brand new trade paperback that collects three individual comic book stories into Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Omnibus. “Forgotten Realms” was written by Ed Greenwood and illustrated by Lee Ferguson, while “Cutter” and “Drizzt” were written by R.A. Salvatore and Geno Salvatore and featured the art of David Baldeon and Agustin Padilla, respectively. Each story includes their original covers in this edition.
In “Forgotten Realms,” the story follows two anti-heroes that get caught up with the royal daughter who staged her own kidnapping to get away from an arranged marriage and a dysfunctional family. “Cutter” is the tale of a young woman who learns the burden of her father’s sword that comes at a heavy price, while “Drizzt” tells the story of a dead dwarf brought back to life, struggling to fight the vampiric nature that now rules his undead life.
All three stories decently expand the “Forgotten Realms” universe. Greenwood sets up his tale with a familiar plot device of a woman trying to get away from her family; however, his story provides insight into the social hierarchy and the strife that exist between them. Through the main characters – Dolt, Torn, and Lady Roaringhorn – they learn to depend on each other and a trusting friendship develops. The intricate plot results in several back-and-forth jumps between stories and, unfortunately, causes breaks in the unfolding action. In the Salvatore tales, they take place further north, and in the third story, Drizzt is one of the main characters. In these two tales, the narrative is straightforward and linear, focusing on a very small group of characters. As a result, the stories told are more powerful and linger longer in the mind.
A strong female character features in “Forgotten Realms” and “Cutter.” In the former, Lady Roaringhorn may have started out as a spoiled rich girl, but she can fight and is not afraid to speak her mind. In her adventure, she finds friendship and what it means to be “equal” rather than privileged. Her mother is also a strong female who takes the lead in trying to find her daughter when her husband flounders. And in “Cutter,” Doum-wielle is a trained swordswoman and is able to hold her own against her brother. Her father honors her with his sentient sword, and she is transformed by the sword’s demands and desires. While a strong female, she is complex because she could be analyzed as being led astray by the sword and her father. Her mother is a secondary character, but she is a warrior and tracker which conveys a break with the damsel in distress or femme fatale type of female characters. In “Drizzt,” Dahlia rides with Drizzt and is a mage/warrior, but her involvement, like Drizzt’s, is secondary to the dwarf’s story.
The illustrations in all three tales are unique from each other. Of the three, Baldeon’s vision in “Cutter” is, by far, the most beautiful. The fluidity and sense of motion are powerful. The opening scene of the siblings preparing to fight each other is well laid out to capitalize upon the fight sequence; he conveys such grace and form that it is just gorgeous. The lettering and colors in all three work well and complement the panels and page layouts. Again, the creative team for “Cutter” excelled and was, by far, the best story overall.
Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Omnibus is a wonderful opportunity to read these three tales if they were missed when they were first published in single comic book issues. Each creative team provides their own interpretation on this very popular licensed property that originated with R.A. Salvatore’s novels. And, it’s a treat that two of the tales are from the progenitor himself, along with his son, Geno Salvatore. All three provide insight into and expand on the “Forgotten Realms” world and would likely be enjoyed by longstanding fans. These are standalone stories, but new readers might want to read about Drizzt Do’Urden first, starting with The Crystal Shard, either in trade paperback or novel in order to become familiar with the world since there are references that will make more sense with that knowledge.