Published on May 28th, 2020 | by Jules-Pierre Malartre1
Review: Dungeons & Dragons – Infernal Tides #3
When you combine Dungeons & Dragons with the storytelling talent of Jim Zub and the outstanding art of Max Dunbar to tell the stories of a band of misfits whose main characters are an addled-minded ranger and his giant miniature space hamster companion, you know you’ll get something genuine.
You would think I’d get bored of reading the adventures of the gang from Baldur’s Gate after so many years, but this book is still as entertaining as its first issue published way back in 2014.
In fact, it’s only become more interesting over the years. Just like any new Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying adventure, its comic book companions always have something new to throw at you. For those who are not familiar with this book, it is not a continuous series. It consists of (so far) five mini-series, namely: Legends of Baldur’s Gate (released in 2014); Shadows of the Vampire (2016); Frost Giant’s Fury (2017); Evil at Baldur’s Gate (2018); and the latest ongoing series, Infernal Tides (2019). Most of the series, except for Evil at Baldur’s Gate, have been tied into adventure modules for the venerable Dungeons & Dragons desktop roleplaying game that is now seeing its fifth incarnation. Infernal Tides, for example, is tied into the Descent into Avernus adventure module released by Wizards of the Coast last September. In this latest adventure, role-players get to travel to the first layer of Hell, Avernus. It’s the latest in the series of role-playing adventures released in the wake of the launch of the fifth edition of the game; it allows seasoned as well as new role-players to explore an amazing new dimension of the game. In the comic book series, we get to see our beloved gang of adventurers from Baldur’s Gate undertake their own journey into Avernus. I’ve enjoyed every other Baldur’s Gate series before, but this one takes the art and the story to a new level. The humor is still outstanding; it helps the story stay fresh. The characters get further developed, and the art brings Avernus to life in great details. The Zub & Dunbar duo never fails to please.
This comic book could have been a mere promo series for the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons game, featuring generic characters re-enacting stories already told a hundred times in various sword & sorcery novels or comic books (so much tie-in merchandise turns out to be just that), but you have to love IDW and Wizards of the Coast for thinking beyond that and giving the fans a truly well-crafted book that stands on its own. When you combine the storytelling talent of Jim Zub and the outstanding art of Max Dunbar to tell the stories of a band of misfits whose main characters are an addled-minded ranger and his giant miniature space hamster companion, you know you’ll get something genuine. The rest of the main characters are not two-dimensional NPCs either: there’s Delina, the moon-elf wild mage; Nerys, the raven-haired, pale skinned cleric of Kelemvor, the God of Death; Krydle, the noble-born half-elf turned thief; and Shandie, the diminutive thief toting a bow that’s taller than she is.
This latest series shows how well the creative team has honed its skills at telling stories set in the Forgotten Realms (the world where these adventures take place, and one of the main settings of the D&D role-playing game). The series showed amazing creativity and quality from the very first issue of Legends of Baldur’s Gate, but Infernal Tides takes us to Avernus, and Dunbar’s descriptive and detailed art does not disappoint in fleshing out the look and feel of Avernus and its denizen. For those of us who have been playing D&D forever, this will not be our first foray into Avernus. We will have seen images in previous adventure modules and in the latest Descent into Avernus campaign book that paints the twisted landscapes and horror-wracked denizens of the First Layer of Hell, but Dunbar further enhances whatever vision we might have had of the hellish setting.
Zub’s dialogue is riveting, as always; reading the adventurers’ banter never gets old. Minsc and Boo, once again, shine in this issue, and Nerys keeps turning into an even greater badass issue after issue. I often thought of clerics as pretty lame, in any D&D comic book. But Nerys, especially after her own personal story arc in Evil in Baldur’s Gate issue 4, where she fights off lycanthropy, has proven to be a most interesting character, and probably the one with the most interesting personal development arc of all main characters in the series.
This comic book keeps delivering. Good story. Great art. Endings that keep you yearning for more. I hate it whenever one of the series ends, because you never know if there will be another one. I remember when IDW published Fell’s Five, the precursor series to Baldur’s Gate, and how disappointed I was when it failed to return after the first adventure. Is there something next for the Baldur’s Gate gang? There are no other D&D series presently running: A Darkened Wish and Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons II: Painscape both concluded earlier this year. There are only two issues of Infernal Tides left. We could be looking at a Fall and a Winter without any D&D comic books… There is a strong hint in Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons II: Painscape that we might be seeing more D&D adventures starring Rick & Morty, and that is great, but I for one would love to see more stories featuring the Baldur’s Gate gang—without having to wait for a tie-in to the next adventure module. A new D&D storyline is slated to be announced in June during D&D Live 2020, Wizards of the Coast’s annual D&D event. Maybe this upcoming storyline will provide an opportunity for another Baldur’s Gate comic book tie-in. If not, another series like Evil in Baldur’s Gate, which was not tied into an adventure module, would be great too. Given how vast the Forgotten Realms are and the creative awesomeness of the IDW and D&D teams, there is room for plenty more D&D stories. We’ll just have to wait and see.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS—INFERNAL TIDES ISSUE 3
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Max Dunbar
# of pages: 31
Available: on sale now