Bizarre, emotional, and strangely poignant. Not really the words I expected to use when talking about a video game tie-in comic, but this is where I find myself with today’s outing. Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld is a curious anthology of tales set in the Minecraft universe. Somewhat akin to Minecraft: Volume 1, which I reviewed earlier this year, Stories from the Overworld has the same feeling as its predecessor but gives different artists and writers the chance to cut their teeth on the Minecraft world.
Minecraft is the current most popular game (if ratings on Twitch and YouTube are to be believed). Centered around the idea of constructing anything in a LEGO-like world, Minecraft has sold itself on its endless replayability. Despite this open setting, the world of Minecraft actually has a surprisingly deep lore with canonical villains, differing planes of reality, and even a loose narrative.
From a look at the Minecraft world from the perspective of the game’s villains, to a wordless tale of a castaway being taken in by a village, the stories contained in this anthology aren’t what I expected. Minecraft is kind of a silly game. I expected a kind of silly anthology, but, instead, I found stories written with incredible heart. “A Creeper’s Tale” and “A Strange Shore” pulled at my heartstrings, “Griefer” plays with some magical realism ideas that I’d love to see expanded into a full story, and even the more standard entries, “The Witch and the Pillager” and “Birthday Boy,” are still well executed.
Some of the tales do border on strange. The aforementioned magical realism in “Griefer” and “Birthday Boy”‘s science fiction setting come a bit out of left field, but it’s refreshing to see short stories take risks. I don’t have many complaints about the overall execution. Some of the comedic dialogue falls a bit short, and the real-world moments always feel less inspired, but they rarely are the focus of any of the stories.
In an earlier review I described an Avatar: The Last Airbender anthology as a victory lap for the series; not doing much of anything new but instead reveling in what Avatar did right. Stories from the Overworld does essentially the opposite, treading entirely new ground for Minecraft. Some of the stories will work for readers, and some might fall flat.
The artwork isn’t slouching either. Every story has a unique style that, while not necessarily the most detailed I’ve ever seen, fits the Minecraft vibe well. I especially like how the real world and the game world are divided into different styles in each comic. The guest illustrations between issues steal the show. There is, naturally, some discrepancy in quality between each story, but all the art is, at its worst, passable.
Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld is bizarre, emotional, and strangely poignant. But I’d also call it something truly original. The Minecraft graphic novels continue to impress in ways I couldn’t have foreseen. If you have even a passing interest in Minecraft, I’d happily recommend Minecraft: Stories from the Overworld and keep your eyes peeled for other Minecraft comics on the horizon.
Creative Team: Hope Larson (Writer), Kevin Panetta (Writer), Ian Flynn (Writer), Rafer Roberts (Writer), Stephen McCranie (Writer), Ryan North (Writer), Meredith Gran (Artist), Jenn St. Onge (Artist), Savanna Ganucheau (Artist), Ryan Maniulit (Artist), Stephen McCranie (Artist), and Cheryl Young (Artist)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Click here to purchase.